How Financial Advice Helps People Get Ahead

Eighty-six percent of Americans who get advice take positive steps toward improving their financial well-being, according to a new survey by TIAA-CREF. More than half change their spending habits, increase the amount they save each month and even establish an emergency fund. What’s more, two-thirds of those who get advice say they feel optimistic about their finances, the survey found.

The not-for-profit financial services organization polled a random sample of 1,000 adults nationwide to gauge their attitudes, preferences and behaviors about receiving financial advice. It found that the number of Americans interested in receiving financial advice

The study found that those who are interested in receiving financial advice increased to 35 percent, from the 2013 survey’s 24 percent. The organization called the fact that 65% still aren’t interested “a precarious situation,” considering that a majority of Americans are not prepared for retirement.

People who say they’re “not interested” in getting advice may not understand the nature of financial advice, TIAA-CREF said. The survey found that only 57 percent of those who said they’re not interested in advice understood that such advice included specific investment recommendations.

Among obstacles to getting good advice, survey respondents cited difficulty in knowing whom to trust (64%), the expense of paying for such advice (44%), receiving information that doesn’t meet their needs (39%) and not having the time to look for an objective adviser (35%).

Half of those who responded to the survey said they truly want a trusted source to turn to for financial advice. Eighty-six percent of those who actually had received advice cited retirement as their biggest concern. Seventy-four percent cited general budgeting and saving, and forty-three percent said education-related topics were on the top of their list.

At Mentor Capital, we’ve talked with literally thousands of people about their personal finances. Their attitudes about getting help fall within a wide range, from denial to an eagerness to reach their financial goals and objectives. Many whom we’ve talked to indeed say they’re “not interested” in getting advice. Their reasons range from being fee-averse to fear that an adviser will tell them to spend less and save more. Both these types are hiding their heads in the sand; the former because professional advice always comes at a cost, whether it is as an upfront fee or hidden commissions; the latter because only they can control their spending, and exercising such control will always improve asset utilization and capital accumulation. What’s so bad about that?

Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association – College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA–CREF) is a Fortune 100 financial services organization that is the leading retirement provider for people who work in the academic, research, medical and cultural fields. It serves 3.9 million active and retired employees participating at more than 15,000 institutions and as of Aug. 1 had $2,667 billion in combined assets under management.