Workers Skittish about Use of Technology for Finances

March 13, 2012 ( - Workers are slow to embrace new technologies to help them manage their finances. 

According to the 22nd annual Retirement Confidence Survey (RCS) by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), approximately half of workers report using a desktop or laptop with a direct Internet connection (53%) or with a wireless connection (46%) to help manage their finances. Much smaller percentages say they use smartphones (20%), a smartphone app (12%) or a tablet computer (11%) for this task.  

Even among those who use these technologies, only a minority feel very comfortable performing various tasks related to financial management online. Roughly four-in-10 report feeling very comfortable shifting money from one account or investment to another online (41%) and using calculators online to assist with financial decisions (37%), but only 19% are very comfortable purchasing financial products online and just 10% say they are very comfortable obtaining advice from financial professionals online.  

The survey also found only 21% of workers and 24% of retirees report they have obtained investment advice from a professional financial adviser who was paid through fees or commissions in the past year. Those with higher levels of financial assets are more likely than those with lower levels of assets to seek this advice, but it is unclear whether this is because higher-asset individuals feel a greater need for investment advice, because professional advice increases the likelihood of building asset levels, or because those with more assets are better able to afford it. 

The survey was conducted in January 2012 through 20-minute telephone interviews with 1,262 individuals (1,003 workers and 259 retirees) age 25 and older in the U.S. 

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