Small Business Owners Prefer Independent Assistance

January 31, 2001 (PLANSPONSOR.COM) - Small business owners are generally considered an independent lot, and it appears they also prefer independence in their financial services providers.

Owners of businesses with fewer than 100 employees want to work with unaffiliated, independent planners to select financial products such as mutual funds for the owner’s or the employees’ retirement plan, according to a new online survey of 1,400 business-owner respondents

Personal Preference

The survey, by Brightwork Partners and Greenfield Online, found a particularly strong preference for unaffiliated financial planners as an advisor in selecting mutual funds for their personal portfolio.

Specifically, the study found that

  • 40% preferred an unaffiliated financial planner
  • 19% opted for a stockbroker
  • 18% went with an affiliated financial planner
  • 5% sought a banker
  • 1% chose an insurance agent.

When it comes to advice on choosing publicly-traded individual securities for the owner’s personal portfolio, 36% chose unaffiliated financial planners, but 34% selected traditional stockbrokers.

Among the financial intermediaries who had high ratings from the small business decision-makers were unaffiliated financial planners followed by benefit consultants and accountants, who were both generally considered to be objective and independent.

No Small Opportunity

Reaching this critical audience represents a huge opportunity. Brightwork Partners estimates there are over 5.7 million small businesses with paid employees supporting an average of 1.4 owners, part owners or partners per business. Roughly 22% of these businesses have group retirement plans.

The average small business owner has household income of approximately $135,000 and assets of over $1million, 20% of which are in liquid or near-liquid investable assets.

-Chuck Epstein