D.C.-Based African Americans Optimistic, but Need Financial Guidance

African Americans in Washington, DC, are twice as optimistic as the general U.S. population that their financial situation will improve over the next year, but most say they don’t have a financial game plan and many don’t know where to start, according to a new survey.

The survey, commissioned by The Smiley Group and Nationwide Insurance, found that 59% of African Americans in Washington, D.C., expect their household situation to be better a year from now, compared to only 30% of the general U.S. population sharing similar optimism. However, nearly half of African Americans in D.C. say they are not proactive about their financial future, according to a release of the survey results.

Four in five African Americans in D.C. do not have a professional financial adviser, because they don’t think they need one or think they can’t afford one. Further, two in three do not have a written financial plan, and one in five say they don’t know where to start when it comes to personal financial planning.

Despite that, the survey found they are more likely than African Americans nationwide to have a written financial plan and shop around for financial products and services. D.C.-based African Americans also show a greater interest than the general U.S. population in obtaining financial and retirement planning information from seminars, a financial adviser, an insurance agent, family and friends, or television.

More than half of African Americans in D,C, say they are confident in their ability to make savings and investment decisions, but nearly 2 out of 5 also indicate they are struggling with credit card debt, according to the release.

Only 12% of DC-based African Americans said that saving for education is their most important financial goal, but nearly one in three African Americans in DC with children under 21 said they are extremely worried about being able to afford a college education for their children and only about one in 20 have a college savings plan.

The online survey was conducted in January by the Blackstone Group. The 1,600 respondents age 18 and older were split into four sample groups: 600 general population, 600 African American, 200 general population in Washington, DC, and 200 African American in Washington, DC.