<p>DENVER – Given the economy's slump, it's not surprising that people in their 20s and 30s have shifted their financial goals towards reducing debt and away from long-term goals such as saving for retirement, as one recent survey found. Likewise, when the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, the certifying organization that has bestowed professional credentials on 38,700 advisers conducted its latest survey on life-planning goals, they discovered most still rely on themselves to do their own planning versus consulting an adviser. "Tough economic times force us to re-evaluate how we're doing financially," said Elaine Bedel, chair of CFP's governing body and president of Bedel Financial Consulting. "Now, more than ever, the public needs to be able to distinguish true financial planning and understand the benefits a properly developed financial plan has to offer." Despite the need, 45% of those surveyed still do their own planning compared to 37% who consult a financial planner. In line with those who choose to rely on themselves for financial planning, most polled (38%) fret about their personal finances but do not take action. CFP Board's 2002 consumer survey polled households in the $60,000 to $85,000 and above range with individuals ages 20 to 69. The data collected updates similar research conducted in 1999 and identified three distinct groups: "worriers," "independents," and "help wanteds." "The worriers are more likely to place their assets in real estate equity and retirement savings plans and shy away from high-risk investments," Bedel said of this group, which are mostly under 40. The "independents" at 33%, are comfortable handling their own personal finances, use the Internet for financial purposes and like worriers, have a large share of their assets in real estate equity. "They are more likely to be male and are spread across all age groups," Bedel said. The independents are also the least likely to seek professional help under any circumstances including losing assets as a result of their own investing decisions, the survey found. Of those in the "help wanted" group, the majority polled are middle-aged and older and have a higher net worth and admit their financial affairs require expertise that they do not have. They are also more likely to hold moderate risk investments and favor stock and bond mutual funds. Twenty-nine percent polled seek out help when they need it, the CFP Board survey revealed. When choosing a financial advisor, 37% look for professional credentials, 32% look for a long-term relationship backed by expertise and performance and 31% rely on a recommendation from a friend or relative. Almost half (47%) when given choices, preferred a fee-only method of paying a financial adviser with 63% of that group wanting to know the exact dollar amounts of fees. Of those who prefer commissions, 67% prefer to know exact percentages. Bedel said the survey shows that "Americans are deciding to play an active role in their financial futures by reaching out to qualified financial professionals." Indeed, overall, 70% of those polled agree that financial advisors are a "good source of information" about financial products but almost half (49%) feel that it's hard to know who's really qualified. -</p> <p>[email protected]</p>

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