It’s probably just my nerdiness (is this a word?) showing, but I’m fascinated with the way people analyze and interpret data—particularly data in surveys and studies about the advisory industry.
So my interest was piqued when I read the results of a survey conducted this past June and July as part of the Wells Fargo/Gallup Investor and Retirement Optimism Index. The headline of the August 15 press release read: “U.S. Investors Opt for Human Over Online Financial Advice,” which I found curious, after looking at the data.
If you want, think of this as test to see if your take is the same as mine.
Here’s what the Gallup organization found, when they polled “a nationally representative sample of U.S. investors with $10,000 or more in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, or in a self-directed IRA or 401(k),” about their sources for financial advice. To its credit, in addition to the aggregated answers, Gallup provided the actual questions asked. As I’m sure you’re aware, how a question is asked can go a long way to determine how it’s answered.
Here’s Wells Fargo/Gallup’s first question:
“Now, thinking about financial advice on investing or planning for retirement, do you use any of the following, or not?”
The answers: 44% use “a dedicated personal financial advisor,” 35% use “a financial advisory firm (where you can call into a call center and speak to a financial adviser),” and 20% use “an online financial planning or investing website.”
Wells Fargo/Gallup’s conclusion?
“Even as access to the Internet has become ubiquitous in the U.S. and data analytics is highly touted for use in finance, U.S. investors are more likely to have a dedicated financial adviser than to use a financial website for obtaining advice on investing or planning for their retirement, 44% vs. 20%.”
Then, when they narrow down the respondents to people with $100,000 or more in invested assets, those using “a dedicated personal financial adviser” jumped to 53%; those using a financial advisory firm, with advisor call-in, 33%; and those using a financial website, 23%.”
Here’s how Wells Fargo/Gallup interpreted these responses of wealthier folks:
“…retirees and investors with $100,000 or more in invested assets are significantly more likely than their counterparts to use a dedicated financial adviser.”