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Who Seeks A Financial Planner? A Review of

Article August 2016




3 authors:
Fatemeh Kimiyaghalam

Shaheen Mansori

SEGi University College

INTI International University





Meysam Safari
SEGi University College

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Available from: Fatemeh Kimiyaghalam

Retrieved on: 22 October 2016

e-ISSN: 2395-0463
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July 2016

Who Seeks A Financial Planner? A Review of Literature

Fatemeh Kimiyaghalam ; Meysam Safari ; Shaheen Mansori

Ph.D. Student, Institute of Post Graduate Studies, SEGi University, Malaysia

Jalan Teknologi, Kota Damansara, 47810 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia

Associate Professor, Graduate School of Business, SEGi University, Malaysia

Jalan Teknologi, Kota Damansara, 47810 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia

Associate Professor, INTI International University,

Jalan BBN 12/1, Bandar Baru Nilai, 71800 Nilai, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia
E-mail: shaheen.mansori@gmail.com
In todays highly complex and volatile
financial market the importance of
financial advice in decision making is
difficult to rebut. People may seek for this
type of help through close networks (like
family or friends) or professional advisors.
This paper reviews and summarizes the
studies about financial help-seeking
behavior. The findings suggest that factors
like demographic profile, socio-economic
features, and psychosocial characteristics
are most likely to influence financial helpseeking behavior. To analyze the process
of this behavior, we apply the theory of
planned behavior and develop the
conceptual framework. The direction of
future studies is presented with a
particular highlighting on the outcome of
existing research.
financial advice, financial planner, theory
of planned behavior, help-seeking
framework, retirement planning, personal
finance, retirement
JEL Classification: D1, G20, L84
1. Introduction

The Certified Financial Planner (CFP)

Board in the United States gives a broad
definition of financial planning: the
process of determining how to best achieve
ones life objectives through managing
financial resources. Warschauer (2002) in
his paper suggests a more comprehensive
definition of financial planning. It points
out that a successful financial planner, in
addition to technical skills must
communicate well with clients to help
them to accomplish their financial goals;
Financial Planning is the process
that takes into account the clients
personality, financial status and the
environments and leads to the
adoption of strategies and use of
financial tools that are expected to
aid in achieving the clients financial
Before the advent of financial
planning, the concentration of financial
advice was on investment guidance. The
solicitors, insurance agent, and real estate

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agents usually act as a dealer for their

products. Indeed, they first introduce their
financial products and then try to match
their products with the needs of customers.
In contrast, financial planners offer
financial advice based on the needs of the
clients and then looking for a product that
will suit their requirements (Brimble and
Murphy, 2012). Certified Financial
Planner Board of Standards (2009) defines
financial planning process in six steps;
1. Establishing and defining the clientplanner relationship (service offered,
remuneration details).
2. Gathering client data (income, debt,
assets, liabilities, risk tolerance) and
identifying client goals (short, medium and
long term).
3. Analyzing data and identifying financial
4. Developing and preparing a plan
5. Implementing a plan.
6. Monitoring and reviewing the plan (in
line with economic and lifestyle changes).
Nowadays the scope of the financial
planner is wider than that of traditional
comprehensive financial advice in the
areas of investment, retirement, insurance,
tax and real estate planning. Financial
planners depend on the type of their
licensed; they have permission to directly
buy and sell investment products.
Consequently, the role is much wider than
in the past, causing growing demands for
help seeking from a professional financial
knowledge and other skills.
Help-seeking behavior is an action to
seek and receive assistance from a
secondary source (Grable and Joo, 2001).
It has been the object of considerable

especially for mental health problems
(Collins et. al.2009; Mariu et al. 2012;
Fishbein &Ajzen, 2010; Zartaloudi &
Madianos, 2010; Spendelow & Jose,
2010). Other areas that have a significant
and growing body of research regarding
help-seeking behavior include such
alcoholism, gambling addiction, weight
disorders, drug addiction, AIDS, cancer,
diabetes, emotional distress, and other
forms of chronic disability (Bhugra &
Hicks, 2014; Hingson, Mangione, Meyers
& Scotch, 1982 ; Splevins et al. 2010;
Prouty, , Protinsky & Canady, 2002;
Johnson, McChesney & Bean , 1988;
Burnhams et al. 2015; Iskandarsyah et al,
2014; Doshi et al. 2010; Carter & Forsyth,
2010). However, progress in these areas
has been handicapped by a lack of
conceptual clarity about the definition of
help-seeking and the absence of a
facilitates the comparison of study results
in the field of health and psychological
problems (Rickwood & Thomas, 2012).
Some of these researchs are about
Adolescent help-seeking behavior since
this phase of life plays a crucial role in
developing the skills and attributes
necessary for an individual to become a
productive adult. Nevertheless, studies of
help-seeking behavior within the area of
personal finance are limited (Lim et al.
2014). Recently, the complexity of
financial markets has increased the
attention given to studies of financial helpseeking
development of financial institutions and
instruments has grown the responsibility
individuals bear in making financial
decisions; thus, it is essential for them to

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be knowledgeable consumers of financial

products. This move towards what Strauss
(2008) mentions as an ideology of
individualism provokes great interest in
obtaining financial advice (Moss, 2015).
However, some studies show that most
people are not interested in seeking advice
from professional advisors like financial
planners (Chang, 2005). Instead, they
prefer to rely on informal networks of
family or friends or to solve their problems
by themselves (Grable, Cantrell &
Maddux, 2004). As a result, recognizing
the profile of individuals who are looking
for help from professionals in comparison
with those who are asking help from other
networks like family and friends become
an issue of practical importance.
Identifying the factors that determine
personal finance help-seeking behavior is a
keen interest to financial counselors as
they endeavor to develop new business and
attract more customers.
This article, after a brief introduction
to financial planning, explains the
supporting theory for help-seeking

behavior in Section 2; and then, in Section

3 defines the financial help-seeking
behavior and its measurement.In Section 4,
through the literature review, this study
will identify the influential factors on this
behavior which will end up with
conceptual framework proposed in Section
2. Theory of Planned Behavior
Since humans behavior is a complicated
process, it is hard to be explained by a
single factor (Aguirre, 2012). Most
researchers use Theory of Planned
Behavior for predicting the behavior of
individuals (Armitage and Conner, 2001;
Ajzen, 2011). The theory explained how
behaviors are shaped based on individuals
attitudes, subjective norms, and intentions.
The Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB)
was developed by Azjen in 1985 and has
been identified as one of the well-studies
theories for social behaviors (Perkins et al.,
2007).The multidimensional approach of
the theory of planned behavior has allowed
researchers to assess different influential
factors on individuals` behaviors.

Figure 1. Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB)

Ajzen (1991) defines behavioral
behavior, which is influenced by the
intention as indications of how hard
judgment of significant others, like
people are willing to try, of how much of
parents, spouse, friends, etc. Perceived
an effort they are planning to exert, to
behavioral control refers to the extent to
perform a behavior. Attitude toward a
which people assess the difficulty and
behavior points to individuals perception
easiness of performance of the behavior.
of the behavior. Subjective norm is an
According to the theory, more
individual's perception of the particular
positive attitudes, subjective norms, and

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higher perceived behavioral control rise

the possibility of having a greater level of
intention to engage in the particular
behavior. Theory of planned behavior
shows that to make a decision about
whether to use counseling services or not,
individuals consider three main factors:
their attitudes toward counseling services,
their significant others agreement or
disagreement about their help-seeking
behavior, and their time, available sources,
etc. Depending on which factor is the
individuals priority, that factor is more
likely to affect their decision. There are
many studies in the field of psychology
and mental health which apply the theory
of planned behavior to investigate the
reason of help-seeking behavior (Mo and
Mak, 2009; Schomerus et al., 2009;
Hartong, 2011; Miller, 2004; Rickwood
and Thomas, 2012). However, the lack of
study in the domain of financial help
seeking behavior by referencing the theory
of planned behavior needs more attention.
3. Help - Seeking Behavior
Financial help-seeking behavior is defined
as the process of asking help from other
people to cope with the problems in the
area of personal finance. Help-seeking
behavior first was suggested by Katona
(1951, 1980) who theorized the potential
benefits of recognizing individual and
group similarities and differences within
economic situations via both traditional
economic and psychographic assessment
tools. Most people are sometimes facing
with problems or difficult events that need
more resources to help than they alone can
provide. The peoples attempt to look for
help in such situations has been studied
through several perceptions. Lee (1997)
points out that help-seeking behavior is
linked with definite problems; actually

without having problems or difficulties,

there is no effort to seek for help to
provide relief or remedy. Also, helpseeking behaviors are interpersonal and
interact with more than one person.
Indeed, while an individual is asking for
help, he/she is looking for another
individual to receive assistance.
Mechanic (1982) defines helpseeking behavior as an adaptive form of
coping. Rickwood et al. (2005) point that it
is about communicating with others to get
help regarding advice, information,
treatment, and general support for solving
their facing problems or stressful
experience. Suchman (1966) indicates that
patients first assess their symptoms.
Second, a reason for symptoms is
recognized. Third, providing the treatment
is decided; and fourth, a particular and
appropriate type of treatment are taken.
While treatment is chosen, actually the
decision is made as well. His health care
help-seeking decision-making process is
applied as the foundation for a personal
finance help-seeking framework (Grable
and Joo, 2001). The process of the adapted
framework is quite straightforward. The
process contains the following five steps:
Step 1 - the exhibition of personal
financial behavior(s)
Step 2 - the evaluation of the financial
Step 3 - the identification of financial
behavior (al) causes
Step 4 - a decision to seek help
Step 5 - a choice between help provider
Many influential factors in financial
help-seeking behavior have been found
indirectly from other studies about
financial well-being, money attitude,
financial literacy and financial satisfaction

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(Draughn, LeBoeuf, Wozniak, Lawrence

& Welch, 1994; Bailey & Gustafson,
1991; Chen & Volpe, 1998; Dowling, Tim
& Hoiles, 2009). Some researchers believe
that help-seeking behavior is a process of
successive decisions and this decisionmaking will be affected by some inner and
outer factors (Rhi et al., 1995). Indeed,
researchers point out that while individuals
reach to tipping point and unable to cope
with the problems by themselves then they
will seek help from financial counselors
(Singh & shelly, 2005b). However,
different individuals take different
counselors and advisors that can be family
Accordingly, recognizing the profile of
individuals for each type of counselor calls
great attention. Reviewing existing studies
show that still there is no universal
definition for help-seeking behavior but
the nature of all are the same that looking
for help to deal with problems.
3.1. Measurement of Financial HelpSeeking Behavior
Rickwood (2012) shows that the measure
of help-seeking in mental health issue
requires five elements;
1. Process specific part of the behavioral
process (attitude, intention, behavior)
2. Source source of assistance (formal,
informal, self-help)
3. Problem type of mental health
4. Assistance type of assistance, from
generic to specific
5. Timeframe temporal constraints.
By considering some adjustments in
adopting these elements for measuring
financial help-seeking behavior, literature
reviews show that most researchers focus
on source element. For example, Grable

and Joo (2001) estimate the help-seeking

via a professional or non-professional
source of help. The dependent variable
(help-seeking behavior) in their study is
based on a sequence of questions. The
series begins by asking respondents if
"over the past 12 months have you sought
information or advice about a personal
finance question, problem, or issue?.
Then the respondents who answered
positively were asked about source,
frequency, and usefulness of help sought.
They used financial planners, financial
counselors, insurance agents, and stock
brokers as a source of professional help
providers and friends, relatives, and work
colleagues for the non-professional
advisors. However, defining this limited
source of aid consider as a limitation for
this study since the respondents who used
another source of help were excluded from
the survey. Letkiewicz et al. (2015)
examine the financial help-seeking with
the same questions but different time
duration. For which, if any, of the
following services, did you obtain help
from professional financial advisor(s)
(includes a financial planner, life
insurance advisor, investment advisor,
debt counselor, etc.) to assist you in the
past five years? Please select as many as
apply. The details of which particular
services a respondent used were not
studied in their research and their focus is
just conducting a survey on the use of
financial advisors, with particular attention
to those identified as financial planners
and Certified Financial Planners among
the general English-speaking population of
Canada. The sample is not nationally
representative, and this is certainly a
limitation of the dataset. Gillen and Kim
(2014) also by applying one question

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about receiving financial help via defined

sources measure help-seeking behavior
among older ages in the USA. However,
some researchers like Kramer (2014)
measure financial help-seeking source but
without mentioning the list of professional
advisors from non-professional sources.
He uses data from Dutch DNB Household
Survey (DHS) and a random sample of
retail investors from a large Dutch bank.
Although his sample size is large enough
to generalize the results, it seems that by
asking one simple question about the
source of advice many aspects of financial
help-seeking behavior like the reason of
seeking help were ignored. Chang (2005)
tries to reduce the limitation of previous
studies by asking an open-ended question.
He concentrated on saving and investment
decision and examined the effect of the
socioeconomic status of the respondent is
on their help-seeking behavior. The central
issue to measure financial help-seeking
behavior is How do you (and your
spouse/partner) make decisions about
saving and investments? Do you call
around, read newspapers, the material you
get in the mail or use information from
television, radio, an online service or
advertisements? Do you get advice from a
friend, relative, lawyer, accountant,
banker, broker or financial planner?
Alternatively, do you do something else?"
Answers are coded, in the order given, to a
maximum of 10 responses. He uses data
from the 1998 Survey of Consumer
Finances and households in the US. The
sample for the survey was selected from a
multistage area probability design that is
intended to represent the population on
broad demographic characteristics. The
results reveal that individuals with the least
wealth most regularly use social networks

as an information source for their saving

and investment; however the wealthier
households intend to ask help from paid
financial professionals and to certain forms
of media.
Dowling, Tim & Hoiles (2009)
examine the help-seeking behavior from
an attitude perspective. They study
influential factors of financial problems
and dissatisfaction and the level of
experiencing financial problems and
dissatisfaction which can effect on
individuals attitudes towards financial
counseling. They conduct their survey with
a sample of 400 young male Australian
workers. They employ subscale of the
Financial Counselling Attitude Scale
(Lown & Cook, 1990) to measure attitude
towards self-sufficiency in dealing with
financial problems. The questions are A
mature person should always be able to
solve his financial problems, I admire a
person who is willing to solve his or her
financial problems without going for
professional advice and A person should
work out his or her money problems
seeking help would be the last resort
.They use 4-point Likert scale. This study
just limits to young male Australian
workers so generalizing the results to
different gender groups should be with
caution. They find that there was no
significant relationship between financial
problems and dissatisfaction and financial
counseling attitudes.
Reviewing literature display that
majority of researchers focus on the source
of financial help-seeking behavior and just
a few of them consider the process of this
behavior. It is clear that for comprehensive
measurement of financial help-seeking
behavior theory of planned behavior can
be an appropriate reference for identifying

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the influential factors like attitude,

subjective norm, perceived behavioral
control, and intention. Beyond the process
of financial help-seeking behavior, the
source of assistance and type of financial
problem which causes individuals to look
for help should be considered. For
generalizing the results, it needs a national
4. Influential Factors on Financial HelpSeeking Behavior
Based on reviewing previous studies on
financial help-seeking behavior and the
characteristics of the individuals who are
seeking assistance in financial problems,
this study identifies influential factors
which are mainly demographic factors,
financial stress, financial knowledge,
personality traits and financial risk
4.1. Demographic Factors
Income: According to the developed
conceptual framework of personal finance
help-seeking behaviors by Joo and Grable
(1999) income is positively associated
with financial planner usage. Individual
especially low-income families while they
face financial issues they like to hide it
from family and friends and would rather
approach professional help. The reason for
this type of help-seeking behavior is kind
of "save face" (Ow, Tan & Goh, 2004).
Similarly, Kok & Rickard (1993) show
that 69.7% of their sample with lowincome willing to choose formal over free
help (30.3%). These results are different
from more recent studies that found the
lower income groups were less likely to
seek help (King, 1997; Joo and Grable,
2001; Miller and Montalto, 2001).
However, it should be noted that Kok &
Rickard (1993) because of exploratory

nature of their study used small sample

size so the findings may not be readily
generalized to all the low-income families.
Education: Elmerick, Montalto, and Fox
(2002) use the 1998 Survey of Consumer
Finance (SCF) in the US and find that
other factors like education are positively
associated with asking help from financial
planners. Chang (2005) also analyze the
SCF 1998 survey. He states that 41% of
the most common source of advice for
saving and investment is friends or
relatives in comparison with 36% of
respondents who consult with some paid
financial professional. His analysis reveals
that using the help of paid financial
professionals has a positive relationship
with education and liquid asset level but
the reverse relationship with income.
Age: Kim (2005) looks at other factors
influencing financial help-seeking amongst
elder people in the USA. She uses health
and retirement survey data (HRS) for
2000. She applies variables measuring
health status, cognitive ability, and social
interaction due to building a proxy for
elderly vulnerability. Her results show that
elder population because of decreasing
cognitive abilities are more likely to use a
financial planner. Before this study,
Munnell (2004) finds the same result for
an elder female in compare with a more
aged male. However, the effect of age is
not significant in Joo and Grable (1999)s
Gender: The literature reviews show that
many researchers are interested in studying
the effect of gender on financial helpseeking behavior (Joo and Grable, 1999).
Gillen and Kim, (2014) find that women
are more likely to receive financial help
from family members. Prior researchs
believe that elder mothers are more

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interested than aged fathers to get financial

help from their adult children (Henretta et
al. 2011).
Marital status: Also help-seeking for
investment and saving matters are more
among single female head households
rather than for married couples Chang
(2005). Cummings and James (2014)
analyze the influential factors on decision
making either get or drop financial
advisors. In their study individuals while
their marital status change to a widow(er)
they are getting financial advisors to help
their financial matters, so the probability
of dropping financial advisors are low
amongst these groups.
Ethical group: There are few studies
about the effect of race on help-seeking
behavior. Chang (2005) finds that financial
help-seeking behavior is higher for Black
households than for White families
combined).However, Joo and Grable
characteristics do not a significant
relationship with financial help-seeking
All studies reveal that demographic
factors such as gender, education, income,
marital status, age, and ethnicity can be
important factors for individuals in seeking
help in financial problems. Moreover, they
would play a significant role in the
proposing framework for the study of
financial help-seeking behavior.
4.2. Financial Stress
Financial stress is the stress that is caused
by financial matters like being in debt or
forced to pay an enormous amount of
money for the unexpected incident. Helpseeking behavior is also influenced by
financial stress. Stressors may refer to

sources of stress, like financially

disastrous events (e.g., car accident,
unexpected death of breadwinner) and
chronic problems (e.g., chronic disease).
Financial stressful events involve with
personal, family, and financial situation
stressors. Grable and Joo (1999) ask
respondents about the number of financial
stressful events they may experience
during the past year. They provide the list
of 24 financial stressor items and asked
respondents to mark on them if they
experienced during the previous year. The
results show that individuals who report
high levels of financial stressors (like a
death in the family, loss of job) are more
likely to seek for some types of help via
professional advisors or other sources.
Aniol and Snyder (1997) find a similar
result for couples in stressful financial
events. Some researchers examine the
effect of financial stressors on the level of
consultancy for retirement planning. Using
the 2002-2003 the Mature Market Survey
(MMS), Kim and Kim (2010) indicate that
financially distressed consumers, who are
too much indebted and are in professional
debt consolidation programs, are more
probably seek help from professionals for
their retirement planning. Letkiewicz,
Robinson, Domian, and Uborceva (2015)
use three questions to measure financial
stress. I worry a lot about my financial
situation, I feel I barely get by every
month and My finances are out of
control. They considered stress has two
inter-related components. The stress
variable tries to measure the persons
subjective feeling of stress. The family is
more likely to feel stressed about financial
issues when the situation goes badly, or
the result is uncertain. Individuals with
high personal financial stress are less

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likely to seek financial help, but if they are

high in self-efficacy, they become more
likely to seek financial help. Findings of
these studies show that financial stressors
can have an effect on financial behavior of
individuals and these people are more
likely to seek for financial help via
specialist or other networks.
Financial stress, hence, can be
measured by asking questions about the
type of financial pressures and its
relationship with help-seeking behavior
can show the significance of its effect.
4.3. Financial Knowledge and Literacy
Financial literacy is having knowledge and
understanding of financial matters. It
involves the knowledge of appropriate
decision making relating to certain
personal finance areas like investment,
retirement, real estate, insurance, saving
and tax planning. It also contains basic and
advanced knowledge of financial concepts
like compound interest, time value of
money, inflation, the function of the stock
market, nature of bond and stock and risk
Woodyard (2012) find that financial
knowledge is positively related to using
any financial advice. They notice the
lowest level of financial knowledge is
among individuals who seek debt
counseling while the highest level is found
amongst people who seek advice on saving
or investing and tax planning. People who
are more financial knowledgeable and who
have positive financial attitude their
financial behavior are better than others
(Grable & Joo, 1999). Hansard (2001) and
O'Brien (2001) indicate that the level of
financial knowledge of individuals has an
effect on their decision for asking help
from a professional advisor. Britt et al.
(2011) use logistic regression analysis

show that person who has less financial

knowledge is more likely to be helpseekers. They asked respondents How
knowledgeable do you think you are about
personal finances compared to others?
and test the relationship between the level
of financial knowledge and willingness to
seek for financial counseling. Lim et al.
(2014) use financial education as a proxy
for measuring financial knowledge of
students. They find that probability of
seeking help is high among the students
who have received personal finance
For measuring the level of
individuals financial literacy, there are
some standardized questions are applying
in many surveys like Health and
Retirement Study (HRS) in the US which
is a longitudinal panel study that surveys a
representative sample of approximately
20,000 people in America over the age of
50 every two years. The financial literacy
part in this study consists of two parts,
core, and advance. Many other studies in
developed, and developing countries
appointed these questions as a primary
reference for assessing the level of
financial literacy. For determining the
relationship of financial literacy and helpseeking behavior researchers may apply
those standardized questions which are the
general questions.
4.4. Financial Self-Efficacy
Financial self-efficacy is the belief of
person about ability and capacity to cope
with financial issues. One of the central
concepts in social psychology is selfefficacy. Indeed, it is about a feeling of
being able to deal with a situation
effectively (Bandura, 1997). High levels of
self-efficacy might effect on individuals
behavioral change. Thus some researchers

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suggest that it is associated with personal

well-being (Bandura, 1982; Gecas, 1989).
Schwarzer and Jerusalem (1995) designs
10-item General Self-Efficacy Scale
(GSES), and it has been validated in 30
countries. However, this is a worldwide
measurement scale which does not assess
economics researchers have developed
measures that relate to personal financial
Standards Council (FPSC) surveys pose
some questions that relate in some way to
self-efficacy. Five questions are used to
construct the self-efficacy measure: I feel
that I am prepared to manage through
tough economic times , Over the last 5
years, I have improved my ability to save,
I don't know what to do to improve my
financial situation (reverse coded), I feel
prepared in the event of an unexpected
financial emergency and I am on the
right track in terms of financial affairs.
Although Dietz et al. (2003), Danes and
Haberman (2007), Lapp (2010) and Lown
(2011) all are use different scales their
questions in somehow well related on the
FPSC survey. Lim et al. (2014) conducted
the study about financial self-efficacy and
financial help-seeking behavior of college
students. They use a single question for
measure ones financial-efficacy. The
statement is I can manage my money
well and students responded with 4 points
Likert scale. Logistic regression results
reveal that students with high financial
self-efficacy are willing to seek help from
professionals. Moreover, self-efficacy
plays as a moderator in the relationship
between financial stress and help-seeking
behavior, but the effect size is weak. Also,
Bandura (1997, 1982) and Gecas (1989)
suggest that the self-efficacy can also have

a mediating role on the relationship

between stress and help-seeking behavior.
If self-efficacy mediates the relationship
between stress and help-seeking, then the
influence of pressure on help-seeking
should be decreased and possibly become
insignificant when financial self-efficacy is
included in the model. Remund (2010)
investigates that the proper performance of
financial decision-making roots in
financial self-efficacy. The outcomes of
having high financial self-efficacy have
little debt, few financial problems, low
financial stress, high savings, and greater
financial happiness, Lapp (2010).
Although all findings show that high
level of financial self-efficacy has a
relationship with help-seeking behavior, it
is direct or indirect, (moderator/ mediator)
effect on financial help-seeking needs
further study. For measuring financial selfefficacy, the questions were developed by
FPSC would be the appropriate reference
since all are about particular behavior
(financial behavior).
4.5. Confidence
Confidence is being sure about your
abilities. Finke, Howe, and Huston (2011)
show that the skills of basic financial
literacy decrease near to 2 percent each
year after age 60. The downtrend is
consistent amongst all decision-making
domains, including insurance, investments,
credit, and basic literacy, and even the
decline arises among the most educated
and financially sophisticated respondents.
However, the results of their study
revealed that the relationship between
confidence in financial decision-making
and age is negative. They found that
confidence rises considerably by age, and
more educated respondents are less likely
to be overconfident in their financial

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decision-making abilities in old age. On

the other hand, overconfidence in financial
abilities might be the reason why fewer
respondents in 60 and older believe that
they need to look for expert financial
advisors (ICI, 2007). Americans who are
more prepared for their future financial
state that they hire financial planners in
comparison with those who did not get
advice from a planner. Greater confidence
in the economic recovery is the reason for
hiring a financial plan (Certified Financial
Planner Board of Standards, 2010, 2011).
Robb, Babiarz, and Woodyard (2012)
apply four subjective statements related to
an individual's subjective financial
knowledge comprise the measure of
financial confidence. Individual responses
are measured on a seven-point Likert
scale, with higher average response rates
indicating greater subjective financial
knowledge or confidence. The statements
are I am good at dealing with day-to-day
financial matters such as checking
accounts, credit and debit cards, and
tracking expenses"," I am pretty good at
math, "I regularly keep up with economic
and financial news" and "On a scale from
1 to 7, where 1 means very low, and 7
means very high, how would you assess
your overall financial knowledge?".
Respondents seeking debt counseling are
the least confident about their financial
abilities, whereas respondents looking for
other types of financial professionals'
advice are more confident. Some
researchers show that overconfidence
observes more among men rather than
women and because of this reason men are
not interested in receiving help when
making an investment decision (Barber
and Odean, 1999). Overconfidence is
related to different concepts. In some

cases, it relates to overestimation of the

precision of ones knowledge. Moreover,
sometimes it is the phenomenon that most
people rate themselves as better than the
average individual. Kramer (2014)
measures overconfidence in the event of
knowledge. His result shows that a higher
degree of overconfidence relates to lower
seeking for help. He confirmed the
overconfidence only matters for male
individuals with overconfidence do not
like to seek help in their financial decision
making. Moreover, if the overconfidence
is without enough financial knowledge, it
will cause a loss in the financial decision.
For finding the relationship between
confidence and financial help-seeking
behavior it is better to measure the level of
confidence in different areas like
4.6. Personality Traits
Personal traits are characteristics of
individuals that make people who they are.
Indeed, personality traits are lasting
personal features that can be found in a
specific form of human behavior in
different situations (Bratton et al. 2007).
Costa and McCrae (1992) developed the
scale to measure personality. The Big 5
personality inventory comprises (1)
conscientiousness, (3) extraversion, (4)
agreeableness, and (5) neuroticism.
Openness to experience explains the
willingness to be open to new visual,
cultural, or intellectual experiences
Conscientiousness is the attitude to be
organized, responsible, and hardworking.
Extraversion is an orientation of ones

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interests and energies toward the outer

world of people and things rather than the
inner world of subjective experience.
Agreeableness is the willingness to act in a
cooperative and unselfish manner.
Neuroticism shows a constant level of
emotional instability and proneness to
psychological distress (Heckman, 2011).
In the financial help-seeking domain,
extroverted older adults have higher levels
of unsecured debt (Brown et al., 2005;
Brown and Taylor, 2011). However,
consulting with family, friends or
colleagues may change their financial
plans (Reis and Gold, 1993) as they have a
good network of friends and relatives.
Individuals with openness personality are
less sensitive to self-disclosure thus these
kinds of people are more like to seek for
help (Heckman, 2011; Duckworth and
Weir, 2011). Gillen & Kim (2014)
similarly find the positive relationship
between openness to experience and
individuals with conscientiousness are less
likely to look for help and more intend to
avoid help-seeking because of high
psychological cost from potentially
damaging self-esteem resulting from helpseeking (Duckworth and Weir 2010,
2011). Recently, Gillen & Kim (2014) use
the 2006 and 2008 waves of HRS data to
investigate the effects of personality traits
on financial help-seeking behavior among
older adults. The Big 5 measures of
personality traits included neuroticism,
conscientiousness, and openness to
experience. A four-point Likert scale is
used. The scores for the adjective markers
within each sub-dimension were averaged.
Neuroticism consists of four adjective
markers moody, worrying, nervous, and

calm (reversed). Extraversion made of five

adjective markers: outgoing, friendly,
lively, active, and talkative. Agreeableness
contained with five adjective markers:
helpful, warm, caring, softhearted, and
sympathetic. Conscientiousness included
five adjective markers: organized,
(reversed), and thorough. Openness to
experience included seven adjective
markers: creative, imaginative, intelligent,
curious, broad-minded, sophisticated, and
adventurous. They found the similar
results between conscientiousness and
help-seeking behavior amongst the elder
individuals. Agreeable older adults are
more willing to accept financial help as
being agreeable can associate with
decreasing psychological cost particularly
due to damaging freedom and autonomy
from help-seeking (Reis and Gold, 1993).
Also, those with high levels of neuroticism
are more interested to help-seeking
(Duckworth and Weir 2010; Robinson et
al. 2010). Furthermore, older adults with
relatively higher levels of neuroticism
show less resistance to receiving financial
help by the result of Gillen & Kim
(2014)s study.
Although different studies examined
the effect of personality traits on financial
help-seeking behavior demographic factors
like gender and race would play a
significant role as a moderator in this
relationship between personality traits and
help-seeking behavior. For measuring the
personality traits, researchers may use
NEO-FFI (Costa and McCrae, 2003). The
NEO-FFI is a 60-item inventory, which is
a shortened version of the Big Five and
they can choose items among them to
measure each of five scales.
4.7. Financial Risk Tolerance

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Financial risk tolerance is a level of risk

that person can bear it in financial matters.
Looking for help via professional is equal
to taking a psychological risk (Fischer &
Farina, 1995; Reidy & Von Korff, 1991;
Phillips & Murrell, 1994). Financial risk
tolerance was measured by using the five
items in Grable, & Joo (2001)s study. The
questions were Investing is too
complicated to understand , I am more
comfortable putting my money in a bank
account than in the stock market, When I
think of the word risk the term loss
comes to mind immediately, Making
money in stocks and bonds is based on
luck and concerning investing, safety is
Respondents were asked to choose the
most proper answer by using 4 point Likert
scale. The results indicated risk taker
individuals are more willing to look for the
advice and counsel of a professional
financial advisor. Households with lowrisk tolerance should give more attention
to receive assistance from financial
planning advisor since hiring financial
advisor would reduce the risk of wrong
decision making (Hanna & Lindamood,
2010). Hanna (2011) through multivariate
relationship between using a financial
planner and risk tolerance of individuals.
The respondents with low-risk tolerance
are less likely to use a financial planner,
and it would be reversed among those with
above average risk tolerance. Hanna
(2011) also studies the effect of race on the
relationship between risk tolerance and
using a financial advisor. The results show
that Black households are more likely but
Hispanic and Other/Asian families are less

likely than comparable White households

to use a financial planner.
Many types of research find that
there is a difference between female and
male in financial risk tolerance (Guiso,
Jappelli, and Terlizzese, 1996; Sung and
Hanna, 1996; Powell and Ansic, 1997;
Hartog et.al, 2002; Yao and Hanna, 2005).
Thus for assessing the significant
relationship between financial risk
tolerance and financial help-seeking
behavior, the role of gender should be
5. Concluding Remarks and Suggestions
for Future Researches
Help-seeking behavior has received more
attention in psychological, sociological,
and physiological studies rather than in the
domain of finance. Financial markets are
highly complex, and the role of financial
advice becomes more vital to assist
individuals to navigate the complexity and
their lack of capability about effective
financial decision making. Increasing the
responsibility of individuals to take care of
their financial matters has provoked
characteristics of people who seek help
then who do not. Reviewing the literature
determines that the choice of help seeking
is most likely influenced by multiple
numbers of factors, including a person's
psychosocial characteristics. Theory of
planned behavior would be applied to
assess the process of financial helpseeking behavior. Based on the review of
studies above, this paper proposes
following conceptual framework for
financial help-seeking behavior (Figure 2):

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Figure 2. Conceptual framework of study

demographic factors in most cases play a
moderating role rather than being the
independent variable. Financial stress,
financial knowledge, financial selfefficacy, confidence, personality traits and
financial risk tolerance directly affect the
help-seeking behavior.

is obvious that for comprehensive

measurement of financial help-seeking
behavior other elements should be
considered like attitude and intention for
this behavior. Lastly, collecting data over
time is necessary to tease out the causal
relationship involved in the process of
financial help-seeking behavior.

According to the literature review,

some areas need further research. First, is
the sample used in studies. Many types of
research are limited to particular age
group, and just a few of them used
representative population samples. This
issue limits the generalizability of
findings. Secondly, the majority of the
studies are broad-based financial helpseeking behavior and overlook the specific
type of financial subjects which needs to
seek help. Future researchers may
prioritize the financial matters and find the
significant problems that require more care
and help. Thirdly, the majority of the
studies focus on the source of financial
help-seeking behavior and just a few of
them consider the process of this action. It

Identifying the influential factors on

personal finance help-seeking behavior
may be most favorable for financial
counselors since they endeavor to develop
new business and attract more customers.
Also, this study can be helpful for
policymakers by providing information
about the profile of people who are
seeking help for their financial.
Aguirre, F. (2012). Understanding
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University of Texas at Austin.

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