Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) January 20, 2017
When it comes to trustworthy expert financial help, the American middle class is grossly underserved. Faced with stagnant wages and rising cost pressures from housing, healthcare and education, there is no segment of the population in greater need of independent personalized guidance. The financial planning and advisory industry, initially built to serve the mass market, is today focused on providing investment advice, tax advice, and risk management services exclusively to high net worth customers in order to satisfy AUM-based or fee-based profit models. Beyond the issue of availability, the Carpe Financial Wellness Report shows that these specific services are low-priority or largely irrelevant for many middle class households, and the overall pricing structure presents a significant obstacle to value delivery.
Report Summary – The Middle Class Has Nowhere to Turn
Carpe.com, an online personal finance concierge service, announced the results of their semi-annual Financial Wellness Report conducted during the second half of 2016. The study most notably highlights tremendous doubt and anxiety among many middle class households when it comes to their financial future. The study also surfaced consistent frustration around application rejection for value-add or credit-related products – a frequent outcome for middle-income consumers that has increased over time as financial services skew towards the high net worth segment.
Participant responses show there is a strong desire to actively engage in financial wellness, but there are two main obstacles in this journey. First, the current personal finance landscape is complicated by aggressive sales practices, ad-based review services and biased marketing content. Second, the consumer is highly sensitive to conflicts and irrelevant product offerings among financial experts, comparison-shopping platforms, and mass-market websites. This general sense of hopelessness around third-party financial guidance only exacerbates the lack of forward financial planning observed by many experts.
The Carpe Financial Wellness report concludes that middle class financial wellness largely remains an individual effort, lacking a scalable, sophisticated and unbiased support system.
Report Results #1 – Key Personal Finance Issues Unsolved
Report participants listed these personal finance goals as key priorities for the next 12 months:
· 69% - saving money for future personal or family needs (retirement, tuition or home purchase)
· 59% - paying off unsecured debt including credit cards, student loans or personal loans
· 44% - lowering bill payments and other recurring expenses
· 34% - simplifying and prioritizing financial plans
· 29% - enhancing access to personal credit or qualifying for a loan
Less than 20% of report respondents listed investment earnings or asset allocation as a high priority.
Report Results #2 – Consumers Assume a Conflict Exists
The Carpe Financial Wellness Report found that a key source of confusion and frustration among consumers was the constant marketing and advertising of unsolicited products. For example, participants complained that websites claiming to be additive to financial health frequently served credit card offers without considering personal goals for debt reduction. This type of practice was brought up by numerous respondents as an example of why it’s not possible to trust most third-party platforms. The de facto source of help unsurprisingly remains friends and family, which generally lack domain expertise.
Report Results #3 – Low Value Perception of Existing Support System
Middle-class consumers are actively searching for financial help, including 72% who routinely look online to discover and compare personal finance solutions. In fact, 92% of participants reported spending some amount of time every week searching for a personalized loan or insurance product, applying for credit, or reviewing savings accounts. 23% spend over an hour each week on these goals.
However, many did not understand how an advisor may help them. The majority of respondents expressed a view that the financial planning and advisory universe was primarily for higher-income families and would not be able to provide comprehensive plans around non-investment topics.
Finally, value perception is linked to personal experience. When asked to rate their recent interactions with the financial system on a 1-10 scale, 75% of report participants offered a rating of 6 or below.
Financial Wellness Report Process
From July 2016 to December 2016, Carpe engaged with 1,000 middle class consumers, as defined as American individuals or families with between $35,000 and $100,000 of annual income. Report participants were chosen to create a nationally representative group of active adults based on age, gender, household status and education. 750 consumers contacted by Carpe were looking for personal loan or student loan refinance solutions via Carpe Match, with the remaining 250 consumers engaging directly with our team through paid surveys ($10 gift certificate from Amazon.com), personal interviews and Carpe’s Ask An Expert customer portal. Online surveys were conducted using SurveyGizmo while Carpe Match data was collected through www.Carpe.com.
Carpe is an online personal finance concierge service for the American middle class. Founded in 2016 with headquarters in Los Angeles, Carpe currently provides unbiased technology-driven guidance to a market of 50 million prime and near-prime consumers looking to improve their financial wellness. Our innovative Carpe Match software connects users to personalized solutions for credit improvement, unsecured personal loans, credit card refinance, private student loan refinance, home improvement loans, debt consolidation, or credit repair. In the coming months, we plan to introduce additional high-quality partnerships around savings, budgeting, medical finance and home ownership. Our company’s rapidly evolving technology and our commitment to remaining 100% independent allow us to be a leader among a chaotic landscape of sales-driven and conflict-heavy financial services websites or platforms. Our goal is to deliver certainty, simplicity and transparency to the road to financial wellness. Visit us today at www.Carpe.com.