MDRT Survey Shows More Focus on Understanding Finances

YouGov conducted a recent study of more than 3,000 United States adults, with an eye to gauging their economic outlook since the COVID‐19 pandemic has forced so many people into a position of re-examining their financial situations and better understanding the decisions they’ve made and better strengthening their financial positions from this point forward.

A summary of the report highlighted in a November 2021 press release showed that 64% of respondents with a financial advisor report having intermediate or advanced financial knowledge compared with the 24% of individuals who have never had one. That is crucial to know, because as a new year approaches, your prospects may find that partnering with a competent financial advisor can help them gain the knowledge they both need and are looking for as they develop and implement their investment goals.

The survey results also illustrate that consumers in the United States display wide variation in their levels of financial and investing expertise. The kind of education that a financial advisor can provide seems to be a major differentiator when it comes to filling in the gaps of financial literacy. Consider that in this survey 49% of respondents who have never had a financial advisor report having no working knowledge of investing or personal finance. Only 7% of those who report working with a financial advisor, on the other hand, report having no working knowledge of personal finance. This suggests that, as consumers continue to focus on financial decision-making in this new uneasy world we’re all living in (as I write this, the omicron variant is getting plenty of attention), the role of advisor as trusted partner and educator is only going to become more important.

There are other educational gaps, in addition to the one that exists between those working with advisors and those without. For example, according to the study:

  • 43% of women report having no working financial knowledge, while 29% of men report the same.
  • 41% of baby boomers report having no working knowledge, compared with 33% of Generation X adults and 32% of millennials.

The astute advisor will note that women and baby boomers are two demographic groups that seem to offer significant opportunities. Many top producers have already identified those opportunities, of course, but it’s good to have a reputable survey reinforce the anecdotal evidence.

“As we head into the new year, Americans are hoping to recoup the economic effects brought on by the COVID‐19 pandemic and start fresh,” MDRT President Randy Scritchfield, LUTCF, said. “Financial advisors are ready to help both new and returning clients of all levels of financial knowledge to ensure they are financially prepared for the future.”

The survey shows that even with improvement in the pandemic numbers, plenty of people are still concerned about the economic impact. The survey found that 68% and 61% of Americans, respectively, are worried about the impacts of inflation and supply chain and delivery issues on their personal finances in the next few years.

As you might expect, the level of concern varies among generations:

  • 76% of baby boomers and 72% of Generation X adults say that they are worried about the impacts of inflation, compared with 59% of millennials and 54% of Generation Z adults.
  • 68% of baby boomers and 66% of Generation X adults say they’re concerned about the impacts of supply chain and delivery issues on their personal finances, compared with 57% of millennials and 42% of Generation Z adults.

“Ensuring consumers are both conscious of and prepared for economic instability is a top priority for financial advisors,” said Mr. Scritchfield. “By working with an advisor, consumers can find peace of mind knowing they have an expert looking out for their financial wellbeing.”

Traditional and mainstream investments, like stocks and bonds, continue to be the most popular investment vehicles for this survey’s respondents. But consumers seem to indicate that they want to branch out, expressing interest in both conventional and alternative investments. 66% of those with financial advisors reported owning stocks and bonds, while only 22% of persons who have never had an advisor report owning them.

The survey looked at alternative investments as well, and the results show that 12% of respondents own cryptocurrencies, with another 20% of them expressing interest in owning them. Eighteen percent of those with financial advisors report owning cryptocurrencies, which is a decidedly higher percentage than those without advisors (11%).

For me, the biggest takeaway is that those surveyed have their financial well-being top of mind right now, and there are plenty of people currently flying by the seat of their pants and not with the help of a competent financial advisor. In short, prospects are expressing concern, interest, and many have no advisor to help educate and guide them. If that’s not a recipe for opportunity, I’m not sure what is.


Charles K. Hirsch, CLU, is the president of Hirsch Communications Consulting, LLC, a communications consulting operation in Florissant, MO. For many years, Chuck was the editor and publisher of Life Insurance Selling magazine and has published several of the leading life insurance industry magazines. He continues to contribute articles on a regular basis to industry publications, in addition to providing a wide range of writing, editing, content development, and marketing services through his firm. He is a regular contributor to NAILBA Now e-Newsletter as well as to Perspectives magazine.