Face-to-face beats online for money advice to wealthy

Affluent trust investment professionals, but still research their advice online COLUMBUS, Ohio-- When it comes to financial planning, face-to-face advice is highly credible and still beats online options -- even though affluent professionals often go online to research their investment professionals' advice. That's according to a survey conducted for Nationwide Financial (NYSE: NFS), one of the country's

Affluent trust investment professionals, but still research their advice online

COLUMBUS, Ohio-- When it comes to financial planning, face-to-face advice is highly credible and still beats online options -- even though affluent professionals often go online to research their investment professionals' advice. That's according to a survey conducted

for Nationwide Financial (NYSE: NFS), one of the country's leading providers of retirement and income products.

The study found that while half of affluent professionals use the Internet for some type of financial planning activities, only 7 percent report they prefer to use the Internet for financial planning advice and 17 percent report

currently using it for that purpose. More than 80 percent prefer face-to-face options for financial advice.

"In today's world, the Internet is an important supplement to face-to-face advice, but not a replacement," said Michael Butler, senior vice president of NFS Distributors, Inc. "Investment professionals continue to be trusted resources for affluent individuals looking for comprehensive financial plans, estate planning guidance and help planning for income management in retirement."

The Nationwide Financial High-Income survey, conducted by Mathew Greenwald & Associates, an independent polling firm, surveyed 500 professionals younger than age 60 with annual incomes above $150,000 per year. Respondents were medical doctors, attorneys, corporate executives, business owners or high-tech executives.

All study participants either currently engage in financial planning or plan to start in the near future. The study provided insight into what motivates professionals to begin planning and what they take into consideration when choosing financial advisors.

The survey found that 62 percent of affluent individuals check their advisor's advice with their own research, even though 84 percent believe their advisor thoroughly researches all the options available.

Only 39 percent report seeking a second opinion on their advisor's advice; 87 percent report they are confident their advisor presents an objective analysis that fits their personal situation versus what will earn the advisor the most money. Those who reported using the Internet for financial planning are most likely to use it for:

-- Researching specific investments (74 percent)
-- Tracking investment portfolios (55 percent)
-- Doing general research on financial planning (53 percent)
-- Performing stock market or other investment trades (45 percent)


In addition, 20 percent reported using the Internet to communicate with their advisor. Only 6 percent reported going online to purchase an insurance product.

"Affluent individuals are often highly motivated, well educated and concerned about their financial future," Butler said. "So, it's no surprise that they use the Internet to research their investment professionals' advice.

What's especially important for investment professionals to focus on is that the affluent value their advice and believe their best interests are being represented."

The Nationwide Financial High Income Survey results are supported by an August 2000 study by Media Metrix, Inc., which reports that the affluent** spend less time online than any other income group, but their time is spent searching for information. Respondents in lower income levels spent much more time on auction and career sites. According to Neilson/NetRatings, as of September 2000, there were nearly 148 million Web users in the United States.

A 2000 study by Spectrum Group estimates that there are 29.1 million people in the United States living in affluent households.

* defined here as households with a minimum of $100,000 in income and/or $500,000 in net worth

** defined here as household income above $100,000

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