Northwestern Mutual study shows Americans seek improved financial planning, advising  

Americans say their financial planning needs improvement and that having a financial advisor boosts confidence, yet only 37% work with one according to Northwestern Mutual’s 2023 Planning and Progress Study.

The data finds that 66% of Americans believe their financial planning needs improvement, a 4% uptick from the previous year. This was especially true among younger adults, at 79% for both Gen Z and millennials, up 5% from last year for each generation.

One factor driving this could be the current economic landscape. Eighteen percent of respondents say that recent economic uncertainty has led them to either begin working with a financial advisor or plan to work with one at a later date.

The research shows that people who work with an advisor have significantly higher levels of confidence across a range of areas, including being prepared for unplanned expenses (up 31%), being able to retire when the time comes (up 29%), and achieving long-term financial security (up 28%).

Americans say that financial advisors are the most trusted source of financial advice, outpacing spouses, family members, business news, friends, and social media.

The data finds two leading reasons people turn to advisors for financial guidance: for their professional expertise and to help them maintain a long-term view that keeps them on track to achieve goals (both at 48%).

Additionally, when selecting an advisor to work with, respondents said they prioritize someone who understands their life stage priorities (54%) and who has a long track record of experience (51%). When looking across generations, however, priorities begin to differ. Gen Z and millennials, for example, place a higher premium on working with an advisor who is tech-forward and demographically similar to them.