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MADISON, Wis. – With the myriad of options available for getting the best financial advice, identifying four types of seekers can help credit unions tailor those choices. A recently released Filene Research Institute study, Professional Financial Advice for Consumers: Implications for Credit Unions, questioned 3,780 households and identified four market segments: downscale and local; upscale and connected; the independents; and advice seekers. Among the downscale and local group, 98% regard banks, S&L’s and credit unions as the best source of information on savings and investments. This group is the least affluent and least educated, does not like to spend time on investment decisions, and is not willing to pay for advice, the study found. These households are “ideal for traditional depository products (including IRA’s), which are provided in a friendly, local setting” Ninety-six percent of the advice seekers group say they like to discuss their financial options before making a decision about them, and 88% say it is important that a financial services representative keeps them informed where they stand financially. The advice seeker group “offers a particularly appealing market segment for credit unions” because “few existing institutions appear to be serving this group adequately,” said Bob Hoel, Filene Executive Director. Maintaining trust while giving advice on investing in securities markets can be difficult because of the risk inherent in these markets, Hoel said. However, to the extent credit unions can identify and establish partnerships with investment professionals, “(advice seekers) offers substantial opportunities.” He also pointed out that credit unions may also wish to investigate the potential market for trust services within this group. Only 2% of the upscale and connected, which is the most educated and affluent of the four groups, view financial institutions as the best source of advice. The study found that this group appears to offer limited opportunities for credit unions. The study also found 88% are unwilling to pay for financial advice and 82% feel qualified to make their own investment decisions, making them prime candidates for offerings at discount brokerage firms.

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