Friends and family provide all sorts of support in life, and defined contribution plan participants use close acquaintances and relatives to find a financial advisor.
In the new Spectrem study Advisor Usage Among DC Plan Participants, 36 percent of 401(k) participants found their financial advisor through a referral from a friend or family member. No other specific method for finding an advisor garnered more than 9 percent of the responses, although “other’’ was selected by 26 percent of participants.
Nine percent of participants found their advisor through a website that provides detailed information on advisors, and 7 percent found their advisor at a seminar or special event. Other ways advisors were found was through a general advertisement (6 percent), investigating a certain product and finding an advisor that specialized in that product (6 percent) or the advisor made first contact (6 percent).
Overall, only 33 percent of 401(k) plan participants use a financial advisor for any investment decisions.
There were some significant differences in how certain segments of plan participants found their advisor. For instance, 44 percent of female participants used a referral from friends and family to just 27 percent of males. The male population was more likely to find their advisor through a website (13 percent male to 5 percent female).
Among plan participants with a balance of over $100,000, 43 percent found their advisor through a friend or family referral. But 43 percent of those with a balance below $10,000 had some other unspecified way to find their advisor. Twenty percent of participants with a balance between $10,000 and $49,000 found their advisor on a website that provides information on advisors.
Ninety-four percent of plan participants considered honesty and trustworthiness to be a key characteristic of the advisor they chose. Eighty-nine percent selected the investment track record of the advisor as a significant component, and 89 percent said transparency and a willingness to keep the participant informed of what they are doing were factors in choosing an advisor.