Modern American families are experiencing financial pressures, yet relatively few seek professional assistance that could help relieve the stress, according to a new study.
This presents financial professionals who delve into the unique dynamics of nontraditional families an opportunity to engage with a growing population that is underserved but often open to assistance.
The new Allianz LoveFamilyMoney study identified modern family types as same-sex couples, single-parent households, those with adult children returning home, multigenerational families, blended families and families with older parents and young children.
Survey participants were between 35 and 65 years old, with household incomes of at least $50,000.
The study found that 57% of modern families in the study had never sought professional financial advice, even though 73% of those respondents reported experiencing a financial hardship of some kind as an adult.
Many more modern families than traditional ones had unexpectedly lost a main source of income, declared bankruptcy, or gone on short-term or needed long-term disability. As well, modern families in the survey acknowledged they were not saving enough.
Only 25% of modern families surveyed were currently working with a financial professional. Many others relied on family members, significant others, friends or colleagues to help them plan their financial futures.
Yet 30% of those who were not using a financial professional said they would be interested in getting help to set up a savings plan.
“American family structures have evolved significantly in the past 40 years and the traditional family model — heterosexual couple living together with their children — represents less than 20% of households today versus more than 40% in 1970,” John Carroll, head of U.S. retail for Allianz Global Investors, said in a statement.
“Financial professionals need to embrace this change and understand how the structure of modern families and the issues they face affect their relationship with money and prospects of meeting their financial goals.”
Those issues can be onerous. Only 30% of modern families in the survey said they felt financially secure compared with 41% of traditional families. Worse, 26% said they did not feel secure versus 21% of traditional families who expressed this concern.
The study found that modern families do see the value in professional guidance and are amenable to working with a professional.
Seventy-seven percent of respondents agreed that working with a financial professional would help them plan for their family’s financial future, and 84% said a financial professional could help them achieve their financial goals.
Among those who had never worked with a financial professional, 32% of modern families said they would consider doing so versus only 26% of traditional families who said this.
According to the report, modern families are most likely to see the value of professional help with planning and managing a retirement account, but on average their retirement savings are smaller than those of traditional families: $196,800 versus $251,100.
“It’s undeniable that the changing American family structure will create new opportunities and challenges for financial professionals,” Carroll said.
“Those financial professionals who take the time to understand and address the differing needs of the modern family will be more successful at forging meaningful relationships.”
Check out Single Parents Choose College Savings Over Retirement on ThinkAdvisor.