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Retirement Planning > Saving for Retirement

Perceived expense a barrier to working with an advisor

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Nearly two-thirds of Americans do not use a financial professional, according to the latest findings of a retirement plan participant survey.

Conducted by American United Life Insurance Company, a OneAmerica company, the online survey polled 7,545 people to better understand behaviors and the resources that might be most effective in helping plan participants prepare for retirement. Survey participants answered questions about their savings behaviors and motivations, education and resource preferences and working with financial professionals.

The research reveals that individuals under 50 years of age are the least likely to work with a financial professional (27 percent), followed by those who have a household income of less than $75,000 (26 percent). Men and women engage with a financial professional at about the same rate at 35 and 34 percent, respectively.

“Financial professionals may have greater success connecting with these participants through small forums, one-on-one meetings and in ways where they can answer questions and demonstrate their expertise,” says Marsha Whitehead, vice president of marketing for retirement services for the companies of OneAmerica. “Resources like webinars, podcasts and videos can introduce consumers to financial concepts and help them feel more comfortable seeking out a financial professional for more personalized and ongoing assistance.”

Of the survey respondents, 23 percent aren’t sure why they do not work with a financial professional. Others say they prefer to make their own decisions (24 percent). And they believe financial professionals are too expensive (23 percent).

“These findings underscore the importance of earning and building participant’s trust,” says Whitehead. “To put clients at ease, financial professionals should clearly explain fee structures, the impact of not working with a financial professional and other basic concepts right up front.

“They need to dispel any misconceptions and keep consumers interested in learning and doing more,” Whitehead adds. The 35 percent of respondents who do work with financial professionals share some traits. For example:

68 percent are more likely to have calculated their retirement income need;

53 percent are confident or very confident about maintaining their lifestyle through retirement; and

68 percent plan to continue to work with a financial professional through retirement.

“Knowing why individuals choose not to work with a financial professional and understanding the characteristics of those who do, will help us determine how to best reach out to consumers and address their concerns,” says Whitehead. “Being ready to explain the tangible benefits of working with a financial professional is critical in helping them reach retirement readiness.”

This summary infographic provides survey methodology and additional insights.