|by Robert Powell, Special for USA TODAY|
Are you anxious about going to a financial adviser? Join the crowd.
Many Americans — as well as citizens from other countries — are embarrassed to seek the help of a financial adviser.
"It's virtually universal that people hesitate about sharing intimate information with others," says
Others agree. "In my experience, people feel a lot of shame around money," says
At least two factors are at play when it comes to what experts call "financial adviser anxiety." One is called disclosure anxiety — feelings of discomfort at the prospect of sharing personal information with a professional adviser, according to a just-published study on the subject. And the other is evaluation anxiety — expectations of being negatively judged by the financial professional.
How widespread is this problem? Well, consider the results of a just-released study co-authored by an American professor. Nearly half (46%) of the Australians participating in the study expressed "mild" anxiety about talking to a financial adviser anxiety and one in four expressed "moderate" to "severe" anxiety, according to the study from the National Seniors Productive Ageing Centre, a research group based
That "financial adviser anxiety" arises from people worrying about sharing information about their finances or being negatively judged by a financial adviser because of their financial situation, according to the report, "The Role of Financial Literacy and Financial Adviser Anxiety in Older Australians' Advice Seeking."
The embarrassment people have about revealing personal details to financial advisers is similar to the reluctance many people experience while disclosing their health problems to medical professionals, according to the co-authors of the report,
But are Americans in the U.S. just as afraid of going to a financial adviser as Australians? Yes, says Hershey. "I believe that the incidence rates would be similar given the strong emphasis on individual investor responsibility here in the U.S.," he says.
In fact, Hershey says a pilot study conducted on American working adults revealed that anxiety scores were highly correlated with respondents' willingness (or lack thereof) to visit a financial planner. Read the report "The Role of Financial Literacy and Financial Adviser Anxiety in Older Australians' Advice Seeking."
So what might you do if you're afraid of revealing your money woes and goals to a financial adviser?
First, remember you are not alone; in fact, it's normal that you don't want to share information of a personal or embarrassing nature.
Also, ask yourself: What is peace of mind is worth to you? "Talking to a qualified financial adviser about saving for retirement is like talking to your doctor about your health and longevity," Hershey says. "Each one is there to examine your assets and liabilities, and work with you on a plan that you can — literally — live with, and help you sleep better at night."
Look at your at your financial adviser as your "financial proctologist," says Klontz, who is also an associate personal financial planning professor at
Others agree. "No one is perfect, people do make mistakes, your planner is not there to judge you but to help you, and that — as with your doctor — it's important to face and move past your self-consciousness about this, or you risk giving your planner incomplete information that makes it impossible to provide a proper recommendation," says
You can also overcome your reluctance to meeting with a financial planner by asking friends and colleagues about their advisers, says
Also, take advantage of free, no-obligation, get-acquainted appointments that many financial advisers offer. "Be sure to go to any such prepared with a set of questions that will not only help you evaluate the planner's technical competence, but their interpersonal skills as well," says Anderson.
To be fair, older Americans are justified in having financial adviser anxiety. "By definition, advisers see themselves as experts in their domain, which of course they are but they tend to talk over clients and not even have an awareness that there is a lot of embarrassment that their clients have about their money issues," says
"You want to able to work with a financial professional that helps you feel comfortable," said Anderson. "Pick someone who interacts with you in a genuine and non-judgmental manner and is interested in helping you to become better equipped to make good financial decisions."
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