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Financial Advisors Say Living Beyond Means, Not Saving Enough and Fear Are Biggest Roadblocks to Financial Security

Rebuilding Advice to Americans: Pay Off Debt, Increase Retirement Savings, Spend Less

May 27, 2010 (Des Moines, IA) - A revealing new survey of financial advisors across the U.S. found that the top three roadblocks to Americans' financial security are living beyond ones means (70 percent), not saving enough (66 percent) and just plain fear (62 percent).

Advisors also cited not saving for retirement early enough during working years (56 percent) and reluctance to take financial action (55 percent) as additional impediments to Americans' success.

Commissioned by the Principal Financial Group® and conducted by Harris Interactive, the survey includes feedback from 650 financial advisors nationwide including independent broker/dealers, wirehouse and regional brokerage firms, insurance agencies, independent wealth management firms, banks and independent asset management firms.

So what are advisors telling their clients to help them rebuild their financial well-being? Pay down debt (72 percent), increase retirement savings (65 percent), increase emergency fund savings (57 percent), spend less money (57 percent) and talk with their financial advisor more often (56 percent).

Americans seem to be heeding at least some of the advice. According to the survey, since the recession began half the financial advisors said their client base has increased in size and many advisors have adapted their businesses to the new economic climate.

“Financial advisors are critical in the financial recovery process of their clients. Advisors work with clients at various stages of rebuilding. For some it's guiding clients to walk before they run -- in other words, advising clients to learn to live within their means,” said Timothy Minard, senior vice president, retirement distribution at The Principal®. “And when it comes to achieving long-term financial stability, they tell clients to save early and often during their working careers.”

New Normal: Advisors offer financial education, risk management and protection

Forty-three percent of financial advisors either agree completely or somewhat that now more than ever, Americans are ready to take action to build their financial well being. Nearly three quarters of financial advisors (71 percent) report that their clients' desire for financial counseling and advice has either increased significantly or increased somewhat compared to this same time last year. With this in mind, advisors are modifying their businesses to meet new client demands.

Some of the most popular changes financial advisors are making include providing financial education to clients (61 percent), focusing on diversification of investments (56 percent) and paying close attention to financial risk management (49 percent). In fact, 62 percent of financial advisors said they are recommending more financial protection products, such as life insurance and disability insurance to clients..

“By providing clients with more financial knowledge – from the basics through more sophisticated strategies – advisors play a key role in helping empower Americans, arm them with tools, plan and adopt healthy fiscal behaviors,” Minard said.

Not enough time in the day

The survey found that about half (48 percent) of financial advisors said their work-related stress level is much lower compared to a year ago at this time. More than a third (36 percent) said their stress level was about the same while only 16 percent said their stress level is much higher compared to a year ago.

But time continues to be the biggest challenge for financial advisors. One-third said not having enough time in their day to get their work done is what frequently keeps them up at night. If they could add one more hour to their day, nearly one-third (32 percent) of financial advisors would choose to exercise, while another 26 percent would spend more time with family.

Other key findings include:

Advisors helping clients manage financial stress

  • Eighty-one percent of advisors are touching base with clients on a regular basis to help them deal with increased financial worry brought on by the downturn in the economy.
  • Seventy-one percent are providing reassurance to ward off stress.
  • Sixty-five percent are helping clients create a financial plan to help them deal with recent financial stress brought on by the downturn in the economy.

Scoping out the competition

  • When asked who or what their biggest competition is, over a third (35 percent) of financial advisors responded clients' fears, which results in lack of financial action. Just over a quarter (27 percent) said other financial advisors.

For access to free financial rebuilding tools and education, go to www.AmericaRebuilds.com.

Methodology

The survey of financial advisors was conducted online by Harris Interactive within the United States between April 2 and April 12, 2010, among a nationwide sample of 650 producing financial advisors. Respondents for this survey were financial advisors who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. Because the sample includes those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. A full methodology is available.

About the Principal Financial Group

The Principal Financial Group® (The Principal®)[1] is a leader in offering businesses, individuals and institutional clients a wide range of financial products and services, including retirement and investment services, life and health insurance, and banking through its diverse family of financial services companies. A member of the Fortune 500, the Principal Financial Group has $293.4 billion in assets under management[2] and serves some 18.7 million customers worldwide from offices in Asia, Australia, Europe, Latin America and the United States. Principal Financial Group, Inc. is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol PFG. For more information, visit www.principal.com.

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

[1]
The Principal Financial Group and The Principal are registered service marks of Principal Financial Services, Inc., a member of the Principal Financial Group.
[2]
As of March 31, 2010.
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