The influences of financial help-seeking and other information sources on consumer’s financial management behavior
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Consumers apply multiple information sources when they make complicated financial decisions. The combination of sources that consumers select, relying on themselves or seeking help from others, can lead to either financial wellness or financial frustration. This study tends to explore the mechanism of the information search and help seeking process when consumers make sophisticated financial decisions. Using the 2012 National Financial Capability Study dataset, this dissertation aims to develop a consumer financial decision model of financial help-seeking behavior, including the possible influential factors and positive and negative outcomes of seeking help from financial professionals. This study uses structural equation modeling as the main statistical analysis method to examine the relationships among the variables included in the financial help-seeking behavior framework. Results indicate that seeking help from financial professionals was positively associated with desired financial management behaviors and negatively associated with risky financial management behaviors. The financial help-seeking behavior also worked as a significant mediator between the relationships of the internal information sources (such as education, objective financial knowledge, financial stressors, and financial attitudes factors) and financial management behaviors. The additional multi-group structural equation modeling results showed that the influence of the internal and external information sources on financial behaviors varied largely by demographic characteristics. This study sheds light on the significance and value of financial planners, counselors, and other professionals who can positively influence consumers’ financial behaviors. The significance of this study can help financial professionals improve their interactions with their clients when helping clients reach their financial goals. The findings from this study also challenge the policymakers to develop pathways that can enhance the national financial education programs and can create greater access to professional financial advice.
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