• Document: Financial Literacy Center W O R K I N G P A P E R
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Financial Literacy Center W O R K I N G P A P E R Financial Advisors’ Role in Influencing Social Security Claiming MATHEW GREENWALD, ANDREW G. BIGGS AND LISA SCHNEIDER WR-894-SSA November 2011 Prepared for the Social Security Administration This product is part of a deliverable to the Social Security Administration Financial Literacy Research Consortium, Grant No. 5 FLR09010202. Working papers have been approved for circulation by RAND Labor and Population but have not been formally edited or peer reviewed. Financial Advisors’ Role in Influencing Social Security Claiming Mathew Greenwald, Andrew G. Biggs, and Lisa Schneider September 1, 2011 Mathew Greenwald & Associates 4201 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 620 Washington, DC 20008 Tel: 202.686.0300 Fax: 202.686.2512 www.greenwaldresearch.com American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research 1150 Seventeenth Street, NW Washington, DC 20036 Tel: 202.862.5800 Fax: 202.862.7177 www.aei.org The research reported herein was performed pursuant to a grant from the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) funded as part of the Financial Literacy Center. The opinions and conclusions expressed herein are solely those of the authors and do not represent the opinions or policy of SSA, any agency of the Federal Government, Mathew Greenwald & Associates, the American Enterprise Institute, or any other institution with which the authors may be affiliated. Opinions and errors are solely those of the authors and not of the institutions providing funding for this study or with which the authors are affiliated. ©2011 Greenwald, Biggs, and Schneider. All rights reserved. Financial Advisors’ Role in Influencing Social Security Claiming Mathew Greenwald, Andrew G. Biggs, and Lisa Schneider Abstract For millions of Americans, financial advisors are a trusted source of financial and retirement preparation information. This includes providing advice and information on Social Security benefits, a critical component of most Americans’ retirement finances. To gain greater insight into what financial advisors say to their clients about Social Security, an online survey of over 400 professional financial advisors was conducted in the Spring of 2011. The results reveal that a majority of advisors believe that they are responsible for educating their clients on the role Social Security will play in their retirement income. Moreover, advisors have the ability to influence their clients’ decisions about when to claim their Social Security retirement benefits. Three-quarters advise the majority of their clients on when to claim. In addition, the study finds that the Social Security Administration (SSA) is the leading and preferred source of information and education for financial advisors and their clients. Over half of advisors say it is a major source of Social Security-related information, more than any other source. However, advisors are critical of the job SSA does in educating advisors and the public, and are interested in additional resources from the Agency. Financial advisors also indicate that the financial services companies they work with could improve their communication and education efforts as it relates to Social Security. The research findings uncover a need for improved methods of educating and disseminating information to financial advisors and the public on Social Security. Financial Advisors’ Role in Influencing Social Security Claiming 1 Authors Mathew Greenwald Mathew Greenwald & Associates, Inc. 4201 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 620 Washington, DC 20008 mathewgreenwald@greenwaldresearch.com Andrew G. Biggs American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research 1150 Seventeenth Street, NW Washington, DC 20036 andrew.biggs@aei.org Lisa G. Schneider Mathew Greenwald & Associates, Inc. 4201 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 620 Washington, DC 20008 lisaschneider@greenwaldresearch.com Financial Advisors’ Role in Influencing Social Security Claiming 2 Table of Contents Executive Summary................................................................................................ 4 Int

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