Financial Professionals Most Trusted Source, Survey Says

People in a recent poll turn first to Web sites and news sources and then to financial professionals for financial information.

When seeking out news, almost half of those polled go to news and financial Web sites (48%), followed by newspapers (45%), financial professionals (35%), and magazines (15%). However, the sources most used are not those most trusted. When it comes to trust, financial professionals are voted the highest by 61%, beating out Web sites (51%) and news Web sites (41%).

“The fact that people are using the tools at their disposal to educate themselves is very encouraging,’ said Barbara Goodstein, executive vice president and chief innovation officer for AXA Equitable. “But more interesting is that our study also illustrates that people still view the relationship cultivated with a financial professional as invaluable and better positions them to make sound decisions.’

The study also found that those placing a priority on protection from outliving retirement savings increased dramatically, from 59% six months ago to 71% in October, according to AXA. Securing protection against market conditions also increased considerably with 68% ranking it as a priority, compared with a little more than half (53%) back in April.

Another notable result: Almost eight in 10 of those polled (78%) ranked income guarantees as a top financial priority, up 16 percentage points from a similar AXA Equitable poll conducted in April.

“It’s no surprise that attitudes and behaviors have changed, especially given the period of economic instability we’re experiencing,’ said Barbara Goodstein, executive vice president and chief innovation officer for AXA Equitable, in a press release. “What is striking, however, is the heightened priority being placed so quickly on securing a stream of lifetime income.’

More than half of those polled (54%) said that they have not made financial changes, nor do they intend to do so. For the quarter of people who have thought about doing something, the actions most considered included meeting with an adviser (62%), reallocating investments, (47%) or making withdrawals (24%).

Of the 21% that have actually taken action amid the volatility, 67% said that they reallocated investments, 56% bought products like annuities, life insurance and stocks, and 24% made withdrawals from 401(k) or 403(b) accounts or liquidated personal investments.

AXA Equitable conducted an online survey in October among 400 randomly chosen U.S. consumers who were between the ages of 35 to 70, with household incomes of $75,000 or higher. The research was conducted by a third-party independent research firm, OTX Research.