Advisers Compete With Internet for Investment Advice to Participants

A survey found the two tied as the most commonly used resource for helping with investment allocation among 401(k) participants.

Among six tools or resources that investors use to help them allocate their 401(k) investments, Internet research and personal financial advisers tie for the most commonly used—with 58% of investors naming each.

These are followed by online investment calculators, at 46%, and advice from family and friends, at 40%, according to the Wells Fargo/Gallup Investor and Retirement Optimism Index survey. One in five investors (21%) use target-date funds, which automate allocation based on the date investors plan to start taking withdrawals.

Although 78% of investors who are currently enrolled in a 401(k) say they have access to a financial call center through their plan, only 15% say they rely on it for allocation advice.

Majorities of investors younger than age 50 and those closer to retirement age say they rely on a personal financial adviser. However, it is the top resource used by those age 50 and older, while it ranks second to Internet research among those ages 18 to 49.

The vast majority of employed U.S. investors who participate in a 401(k) savings plan view it positively, the survey found. Nine in 10 investors say they are satisfied with their own 401(k) plan as a tool for saving for their retirement, including 44% who are “very” satisfied and 47% who are “somewhat” satisfied. Just 9% are somewhat or very dissatisfied.

Satisfaction is just as high among those with less than $100,000 invested (90%) as it is among higher-asset investors (93%).

The survey was conducted January 29 through February 7, 2016, among 1,012 U.S. investors. Seven in 10 employed investors say their current employer offers a 401(k), and of these, 88% say they participate.