TIAA-CREF Survey Finds Nearly Half of Americans Struggle To Find Trusted Financial Advice

Trust, Perceived Cost and Time Constraints Are Among the Major Deterrents Preventing Americans from Seeking Important Information for their Financial Future
Those Who Receive Advice Take Positive Action with Financial Plans
New York, October 1, 2013 TIAA-CREF, a leading financial services provider, released findings today from its second annual Financial Advice Survey, revealing that almost half of Americans say it is hard to know which sources of financial advice can be trusted.
​The survey was conducted by an independent research firm and polled a random sample of 1,000 adults nationwide on their attitudes, preferences and behaviors about receiving financial advice.
Key findings from the survey show Americans’ lack of trust and comfort in discussing financial advice. The survey also pointed to perceived cost and lack of time as additional factors preventing individuals from seeking advice.
  • Forty-eight percent of Americans say it is hard to know which sources of financial advice can be trusted.
  • Thirty-seven percent of Americans say they don’t like talking to anyone about their finances.
  • Forty-six percent of Americans say that more than ever, they need a trusted place to go for financial advice.
  • Two-fifths of Americans think good financial advice costs more than they can afford.
  • One-third of Americans say they lack the time to get proper financial advice.
  • More than half (58 percent) of Americans say they would prefer to get financial advice from a single point of contact or location.
“When it comes to financial advice, trust and personal touch are key if we expect individuals to take action,” said Eric Jones, senior managing director, advisory solutions at TIAA-CREF. “Delivering relevant and trustworthy financial counsel is at the core of what we do here for clients at TIAA-CREF. As the survey and our own experience affirm, those who seek financial advice act on it, and those who act on it create better financial futures for themselves and their families.”
To deliver high-quality and personalized advice, TIAA-CREF offers hundreds of thousands of in-person and online advice consultations each year. According to research conducted by TIAA-CREF in 2012, more than two-thirds (68 percent) of those who received in-person advice and more than half (54 percent) of those who used TIAA-CREF’s Retirement Advisor tool took action, choosing to either save more, revisit their portfolio allocation or rebalance their portfolio.1
“As a mission-driven organization, TIAA-CREF is dedicated to helping our clients take meaningful steps to secure a strong financial future,” Jones added. “In fact, those who receive advice from TIAA-CREF are five times more confident about their retirement than the average American worker.2 And more than 95 percent of clients participating in our advice sessions trust TIAA-CREF to provide sound financial advice.”3
Survey results for 2013 also revealed notable differences in the perception of financial advice and management among different segments of the population:
  • Gen X: This segment leads all age groups in seeking advice on retirement. Eighty percent of those between the ages of 35 and 44 who seek financial advice are looking for more guidance about how to prepare for retirement. Gen X also is the largest segment of the American population to rely on financial service provider websites or online tools for financial advice.
  • Gen Y: Among all age groups, Gen Y is the most likely to say that it’s a little or not at all informed about retirement planning, with 43 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 34 claiming that they lack adequate retirement planning information. Additionally, Gen Y is the most likely segment of the American population to focus on managing student loans and to rely on friends and family for financial advice.
  • Women: This year’s survey found that women are less confident that they’re saving enough for retirement than men. Just 56 percent of women say they are confident that they’re saving enough, in comparison to 65 percent of men. Women continue to rely more on friends and family for financial advice, while men are more likely to rely on financial service provider websites and online tools.
  • Age 55-64: More than any other segment of the American population, this age group says it is the most informed about retirement planning (87 percent). At 85 percent, this age group also is the most likely segment of the American population to act on the financial advice they receive some or most of the time. In fact, more than half of this age group (53 percent) who received financial advice says they have increased their retirement savings contributions.
Interestingly, when compared with 2012 Survey Results , this year’s survey found notable changes in the kinds of advice Americans seek from financial advisors:
  • Retirement: In 2013, 63 percent of Americans who received financial advice sought information on saving for retirement, as opposed to 52 percent in 2012, an increase of 11 percentage points.
  • Additionally in 2013, 54 percent of Americans who received advice say they were looking for how to make their retirement savings last, a 9 percentage-point increase over 2012.
Not surprisingly, the survey also found that financial advice and tools designed specifically for different groups appeal to Americans. Four in 10 respondents seeking advice use financial service provider websites or online tools to find information. This represents a more than a 15 percentage-point increase from 2012. About half also said webinars (47 percent), live seminars (46 percent) and the ability to interact with someone online (45 percent) would be helpful ways to receive financial advice.
In response to individuals’ diverse needs and preferences for receiving information, TIAA-CREF continues to expand its portfolio of advice and financial education resources to give clients more options for receiving help, including:
TIAA-CREF has been offering personalized retirement plan advice since 2005 at no additional cost to clients. The company offers in-person financial services at more than 90 offices across the country, growing to more than 100 by year end, in addition to phone representatives who are licensed and trained to provide advice. Through these services, TIAA-CREF helps clients establish financial goals, provides recommendations on how much to save and how to diversify investments, and offers specific investment recommendations.
For more information on the survey, read the 2013 TIAA-CREF Financial Advice Survey Executive Summary . For more information on TIAA-CREF’s advice and guidance offerings, visit our Advice and Guidance Center.

Survey Methodology

The survey was conducted by KRC Research by phone among a national random sample of 1,000 adults, age 18 years and older, between August 28, 2013, and September 2, 2013. The margin of error for the entire sample is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.


TIAA-CREF ( is a national financial services organization with $523 billion in assets under management (as of 06.30.13). It is the leading provider of retirement services in the academic, research, medical and cultural fields. TIAA-CREF’s sole mission, vision and purpose are to provide lifetime financial security to employees.
Diversification is a technique to help reduce risk. There is no guarantee that diversification will protect against a loss of income.
TIAA-CREF Individual & Institutional Services, LLC and Teachers Personal Investors Services, Inc., members FINRA, distribute securities products.
Advisory services provided by Advice and Planning Services, a division of TIAA-CREF Individual & Institutional Services, LLC, a Registered Investment Adviser

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Chad Peterson
  1. TIAA-CREF Advice & Planning, 2012.
  2. Based on survey of 8,498 individuals who received TIAA-CREF advice via phone or in person from January through August 2012 compared to 2012 Retirement Confidence Survey Results reported by EBRI in March 2012.
  3. Based on survey of 8,498 individuals who received TIAA-CREF advice via phone or in person from January through August 2012 compared to 2012 Retirement Confidence Survey Results reported by EBRI in March 2012.
  4. Based on internal TIAA-CREF Women to Women Workshop results tracking to June 2013. Measures contributions of participant registrants YTD June 2012 over YTD June 2013.
  5. Based on internal TIAA-CREF Financial Essentials Workshop survey results tracking to September 2013.