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Family and Friends Trump Advisors: Sun Life

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Working Americans seek financial advice from family members and friends more than they do from financial advisors, the media and online sources, a new study shows.

The top channels people turn to for financial advice are family, cited by 43% of Americans, and friends, 39%, according to the biannual Sun Life Financial Unretirement Index study by the U.S. division of Sun Life Financial Inc., Wellesley, Mass.

Financial advisors ranked third, with 36% of Americans naming them as a resource. Older Americans were more likely to look to financial advisors than were younger ones, according to the survey. Only 45% of workers in their 60s–those closest to retirement– sought financial advice from financial professionals.

Only one-third of Americans cited online or television news as a place to get this information, while 28% used newspapers, Sun Life said.

The last places people turn to for financial advice are advertisements (11%), blogs and online forums (10%) and TV personalities (10%). The answers for these categories were consistent across all age groups.

“We understand why people would turn to family and friends for advice on important financial decisions,” said Sun Life Financial U.S. President Wes Thompson in a statement. “But financial advisors should be alarmed at these findings.”

The Unretirement Index also found dramatic differences between younger workers and those closer to traditional retirement age. Among workers between the ages of 18 and 29, 64% looked to family members for advice, while less than 20% sought the help of a financial advisor. Conversely, 45% of workers in their 60s were more likely to seek guidance from a financial adviser than from a family member (33%).

Sun Life Financial defines “unretirement” as working at least 20 hours per week after the age when one is eligible to receive Social Security benefits. The company created its index to learn more about the reasons why Americans are choosing to “unretire,” or continue to work full- or part-time after the age of traditional retirement.

The current edition of the study, conducted from Aug. 14 through Sept. 14, polled 1,451 people between the ages of 18 and 66 working either full- or part-time.


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