$23 Trillion National Debt – Investors and Advisors are Concerned 

U.S. National Debt rocketed past $23 Trillion with hardly a mention. Some elected politicians, economists and others say, “the debt doesn’t matter” or “no one cares.”

Nationwide surveys about the U.S. National Debt reveal that both Individual Retail Investors and Registered Financial Advisors have strong concerns, they are not knowledgeable, and they express a desire to learn about the debt.

Survey Highlights:

  • Investors (75%) and advisors (94%) self-identify as being somewhat or very knowledgeable about the national debt, and 90% of investors believe their advisor is knowledgeable.
  • Survey findings do not support this knowledge with virtually none able to correctly answer three basic questions: 1) how much is the debt?, 2) what is the debt to GDP ratio? and, 3) who is the largest holder of the U.S National Debt? For example, when asked unaided, Who do you believe to be the largest holder of U.S. National Debt, 98% of investors and 91% of advisors answer incorrectly. When aided, they perform only slightly better.
  • Investors (82%) are concerned about the size and trajectory of the debt having a negative impact on them and/or their children. Advisors (72%) recognize their clients’ concerns. The investor survey did not find any appreciable differences between gender, age, marital status, amount of investable assets, or whether they work with an advisor.
  • Investors (82%) and advisors (95%) desire a better understanding of the debt and its possible risks.
  • Few advisors (28%) report that their firm provides research/training material, though the vast majority (81%) are interested in their firm providing it.
  • Only 23% of investors report discussing the debt with their advisor. While 57% of advisors report discussing the debt with clients. They do so with, on average, only 35% of their client base. Both investors and advisors acknowledge that the investor typically takes the lead in raising the topic.
  • Advisors (60%) express concern that greater investor understanding of the debt could have an adverse impact on consumer confidence and the stock and bond markets.
  • Advisors (64%) report their firm earn fees/revenue from selling trading or advising on U.S. Treasury securities – i.e., the national debt.
  • Investors (89%) and advisors (99%) believe government officials should be held accountable for the debt – virtually all use strong negative words to describe the debt.
  • Investors (53%) and advisors (68%) are aware Congress heard testimony from government organizations about the economic or national security threat of the debt.
  • Advisors (56%) are more likely to believe there will be a cure for cancer in their lifetime (56%) than believe they will receive 100% of social security when eligible and for the rest of their life (43%).

Contact michael.doorley@usdebtforum.com 914-816-3100 or 914-815-1133 for access to the full survey or for additional information.  Access Survey Presentation.


Survey Contributors:

U.S. Debt Forum – survey sponsor, educates the public about the national debt and its potential risks; affiliates with individuals and organizations who want to make positive change to reduce the national debt and its threat to our economic and national security.

Q8 Research – a leader in financial services industry marketing research, Q8 has a broad suite of qualitative and quantitative capabilities that enables it  to craft custom research solutions for its  clients’ critical business decisions.

Boston Research Technologies – Analytics Group – a leading provider of data management, data reporting and online survey research services for many Fortune 500 companies, primarily in the financial services sector.

Dynata – (investor panel)World’s largest first-party data and insight platform.