Whether employed or now out of work because of the Covid-19 pandemic, a majority of Americans believe their financial planning is in need of improvement, according to Northwestern Mutual’s Planning & Progress Study. They're also apt to consult with themselves on such matters rather than with a financial advisor. 

The survey of 2,650 Americans ages 18 or older was conducted online in February by The Harris Poll for Northwestern Mutual, a financial services mutual organization in Milwaukee. It aims to explore Americans’ attitudes and behaviors toward money, financial decision-making, and broader issues impacting people’s long-term financial security. 

While 71% of respondents said they believe their financial planning needs improvement, opinions ranged as to how much improvement was needed or whom to trust to do the job. 

Among the findings: 

• 65% of Americans do not work with a financial advisor.

• 28% of respondents said the person they most trusted for financial advice was themselves, versus 24% who said they trusted a financial advisor and 13% who trusted a family member.

• 15% said they don’t get financial advice from anyone.

Nearly half of survey respondents (45%) said they viewed cash and money market funds as their best defense against economic uncertainty and market volatility, with stocks (18%), bonds (18%) and life insurance (18%) in a three-way tie for second place. But 31% of people said they were unsure which investment vehicle was their best financial defense during a time of economic uncertainty and volatility. 

Despite the prospect of uncertain employment and rising debt, 29% of those surveyed said they were excited and inspired by financial planning, and loved to do it. Another 37%, however, said that financial planning was not their favorite thing but knew they needed to deal with it.