Three essays on the comparison of financial advice from different types of advisors while recovering from the Great Recession
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This three-part dissertation was designed to identify relationships, if any, between the financial decisions or situations of households and the dynamics of their decisions to obtain, retain, or reject financial advisory services. The dissertation covered: (1) households’ decisions related to the directly-held equity in brokerage accounts, (2) the decisions of working households related to equity held in retirement, and (3) comparison between comprehensive advice and modular advice, in terms of changes in assets and debts of households. The dissertation used the 2007-2009 panel of the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) that covered the period before and after the Great Recession of 2008. In the survey, the households identified different types of expert financial experts or advisers, such as financial planners, brokers, bankers, and accountants, from whom they received financial advice for either borrowing decisions or savings and investment decisions, or both. The first two parts of the study dealt with equity ownership under the premise that during the recovery phase the low-cost equity presented an opportunity to gain from its future growth. This opportunity was especially valuable for those who held defined-contribution retirement plans and had insufficient sources of growth of capital in the low interest-rate environment of the United States. The study found that interactions with financial planners were related to growth in equity positions held directly in the brokerage accounts and in the retirement accounts for the households that had low initial equity. The last part of the study dealt with the scope of financial advice, namely whether the advice was comprehensive or modular in nature, based on whether the household used a type of adviser for only one of two types of decisions - borrowing or savings and investments, or both types of decisions. The study found that the comprehensive advice from financial planners and brokers had a similar relationship in terms of advice for savings and investments based on changes in the total assets of the households.