Even after a global collapse that involved some of biggest names in the financial world, a national Capstrat-Public Policy Polling survey finds that Americans still seek out traditional financial professionals for help with money management. Judging by tepid support for online forums, new access to information through the Internet won’t be likely to change that trend anytime soon.


Certified public accountants emerged in the survey as the advisors considered most reliable, with 62 percent of respondents rating CPAs a four or five on a five-point scale of reliability. Next in reliability were banks (52 percent), followed closely by financial advisors (51 percent).

Only four percent of respondents ranked online forums as their “most influential” source of financial advice. Far larger numbers looked to financial advisors (23 percent), banks (17 percent) and CPAs (15 percent).


Compared to other age cohorts, millennials (18-29 years old) are much more likely to turn to online sources of financial advice. Forty-three percent of millennials report using online forums and 48 percent consider Google their most influential financial advisor. Of respondents older than 65, only 10 percent look to online forums for financial advice and only six percent consider Google to be most influential.


Women are more likely to use banks: 59 percent of women respondents said banks were reliable sources of financial information (compared to 43 percent of men) and 57 percent claimed to have used a bank recently (compared to 37 percent of men). Women also consider banks “most influential” (22 percent versus only 12 percent of males). Men called financial advisors “most influential” at much higher rate than women (28 percent to 19 percent).


“Given the near collapse of the global economy and the explosion in financial information online, it’s surprising to find consumers still relying on traditional sources of financial advice,” says Capstrat CEO Ken Eudy. “But the attitudes of Millennials suggest that this may be changing as the younger generation plays a greater role in the economy. Companies looking to be positioned for this new environment would be wise to work closely with younger customers to see what online offerings they consider valuable.”


Other findings:

·         About a third (32 percent) of respondents ranked financial news media (CNN, Money and CNBC) as “not at all” or “somewhat unreliable”.

·         Over half (52 percent) have recently turned to family and friends for financial advice.

·         One-third (34 percent) of Millennials report family and friends to be a reliable source for financial advice.