NU Online News Service, Sept. 8, 2003, 1:24 p.m. EDT – Moderately affluent U.S. consumers who are confident about their financial planning abilities are more likely to use professional financial advisors than other consumers are, according to survey results released by the U.S. arm of ING Groep N.V., Amsterdam.

Researchers from KRC Research, Washington, surveyed 500 consumers for ING in August. The consumers were between the ages of 35 and 55 and had annual household incomes between $50,000 and $125,000.

The researchers found that 75% of the participants who gave their planning skills a grade of A or B had consulted professional advisors, compared with only 56% of the participants who gave their planning skills low marks.

Researchers also found that 73% of the participants who felt their planning was under control had consulted advisors. Only 62% of the participants who reported feeling overwhelmed had talked to professionals.

The share of respondents who trusted professional advisors to provide reliable advice and information about retirement planning fell to 74%, from 82% in 2002.

But the respondents still had more confidence in the retirement planning advice of professional financial advisors than in advice from other sources. Fifty-sixty percent said they would consult friends and relatives for reliable retirement planning advice, and 52% said they would consult accountants. Only 36% said they would talk to their employers’ human resources departments.