As the CFP Board prepares to celebrate its 25th anniversary on July 17, a new survey released Tuesday, July 13, conducted for the CFP Board by Penn, Schoen Berland, reveals that while two-thirds of Americans (66%) believe that the U.S. economy will hold steady or improve over the next six months, five in six (83%) expect their own personal finances to do the same. But while cautious optimism is returning, the survey says, nearly two-thirds of Americans (65%) say they are more concerned about finances than they were when the crisis began nearly two years ago.

Robert Glovsky, CFP Board Chairman for 2010 and president of Boston-based Mintz Levin Financial Advisors, LLC, and emeritus director of Boston University’s Program for Financial Planners, said on a July 13 conference call announcing the survey’s results that, “Roughly two years after the start of the current financial crisis, Americans are much more concerned about their personal finances, [and they] seem to be settling in for a slow recovery, but they still have hope that things will get better.”

The survey of 1,002 Americans was conducted to mark the 25th anniversary of CFP Board, which grants the CFP certification.

Other highlights from the CFP Board survey show that:

  • – A bit more than a third of Americans (37%) expect to see their personal finances improve in the next six months, versus less than half (46%) who expect to hold onto what they currently have, and 16% who expect to lose money.
  • – 80% of Americans say that Congress and regulators have not done enough “to deal with the financial market problems and their impact on American investors,” though those polled did not specifically point to the current financial reform conference bill currently pending in the Senate.
  • – A bright spot in the findings: 44% of Americans expect the U.S. economy to improve in the next six months, while only 28% expect things to get worse. A smaller group (22%) anticipates no change in the economy.
  • – When asked to describe how they feel about their personal finances, the No. 1 response from Americans was “cautious” (33%), followed by “calm” (26%), “concerned” (25%) and “hopeful” (25%). (Multiple responses were permitted to this question.)
  • – Just 38 % of whites expect the economy to improve, compared to 51% of Hispanics and 74% of African Americans.

The survey also revealed the following about Americans’ attitudes toward financial planners:

  • – More than two out of five Americans (43%) think financial planners are now “more important in the last two years since the start of the financial crisis,” compared to about a third (36%) who see no change, and 14% who now see planners as being “less important.”
  • – Overall use of financial planners by Americans has remained almost unchanged during the first two years of the U.S. financial crisis –starting at 29% compared to 28% today.
  • – Of those who have started using a financial planner since the start of the financial crisis, nearly a third (31% ) say they have done so because “I felt like I needed more financial guidance during these difficult times for investors.” A bigger percentage of those in this group (44%) said they have started using a financial planner during the last two years for reasons “unrelated to the financial crisis.”