Individuals Fear Investing, Financial Planning

Sixty-two percent of respondents to a recent survey said they are afraid of investing in the stock market.

Despite this revelation, more than one in two Millenials and nearly half of Generation X (58% and 48%, respectively) said they turn to websites before financial advisers for help with financial planning, according to the “Fear of Financial Planning” survey from Nationwide Financial. The survey also found 83% of respondents are afraid of another financial crisis, 72% are concerned their personal health care costs will become unmanageable and 71% worry they will not be able to pay for their children’s education.

Nearly four in five Millenials and Generation Xers (77% and 78%, respectively) said they are afraid of not being able to have the lifestyle they want in retirement. Approximately two-thirds of these groups (66% and 65%, respectively) fear they may never be able to retire.

“Even with the recent uptick in the markets, we still hear from our financial adviser clients that investors are very skittish. We wanted to dig deeper to understand their fears related to their financial security, and to help advisers address them,” said Michael Spangler, president of Nationwide Funds, Nationwide Financial’s mutual fund business.

Rather than working with an investment professional, Generation Xers and Millenials are more likely to use websites as their primary financial planning resource. Forty-three percent of Generation Xers and 51% of Millenials use an adviser for their financial planning needs, which is fewer than those using websites (48% and 58%, respectively). However, 78% of retirees and 61% of high-net-worth investors (those with $250,000 or more in investable assets) use a financial adviser as their top resource for financial planning needs.

Spangler explained that while it is important for employees to take an active role in retirement planning, they also need to look at their entire financial picture, factoring in such elements as financing their children’s education and eldercare.

“They need to be focused on the right things,” Spangler said. “In many cases, the right things are very complex and an investor needs to have access to the right tools, products, and most important, the expertise to make sense out of what they are finding online. Too often we see investors set up a 401(k) or savings account and assume they have a financial plan. The reality of planning is much more complex than that.”

He added that it is important for employees to understand it is never too late to start planning and working with a financial professional who can help them reach their long-term goals.

The survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Nationwide Financial from March 26 to April 3, 2013. Those polled included 783 Americans ages 18 and older with a minimum of $100,000 in investable assets.

More information about the survey can be found here.