The Department of Labor’s new fiduciary proposal potentially stands tocomplicate a retirement planning industry already marked byconsumer confusion, according to survey of advisors and theirclients by the Deloitte Center for Financial Services, a researcharm of the global consultancy.

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As is, 64 percent of the financial advisers surveyedsaid poor communications from product providerspresent a barrier to adequate retirement preparation.

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Inefficiencies in communication also explain core trust issuesbetween the financial services industry and consumers.

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Only 52 percent of surveyed advisers said their clients trustthe products they’re offered will help them meet their retirementgoals.

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While the report is clear that systemic trust issues still existeven after equity markets’ historic bull run, when it comes totrust between clients and their individual advisers, confidence ishigh.

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A full 80 percent of advisers said their clients have a highlevel of trust for them, and 78 percent of investors agreed: inspite of poor product communications, and even a core distrust ofthe financial services industry, investors trust theiradvisers.

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Consumers report a sizable improvement in how they perceivetheir retirement prospects, but a majority is still doubtful oftheir ability to retire comfortably.

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In 2012, only 28 percent said they felt very secure over theirretirement prospects.

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Now, that number is 45 percent. The improvement is likely aresult of improved returns on equity markets, say the report’sauthors.

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While welcomed, Deloitte’s report speculates that improvedsentiment could be fleeting, particularly if stock markets fall offtheir all-time highs, where they’ve lingered for much of the pasthalf-year.

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"Despite a booming stock market and the financial crisis nowmore of a distant memory, what we hear from most consumers is theyare simply not being effectively engaged by financial institutionsand their representatives, including a significant segment of thosewith substantial assets to invest," said Dan Rosshirt, a principalwith Deloitte Consulting.

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“Financial services firms should take the initiative in a biggerand bolder way, reestablishing their credibility as a provider ofsolutions rather than primarily product sellers,” he added.

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Almost one-third of high earners with a net worth of at last $1million and nearing retirement age said they don’t use an adviser,primarily because they think they can do a better job of investingtheir own money.

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Of those who said they felt “very secure” about their retirementprospects, 17 percent said they didn’t have an adviser, or aspecific retirement plan.

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But all in all, those with a formal plan were twice as likely tofeel secure about their retirement prospects, compared to thosewithout one.

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Nick Thornton

Nick Thornton is a financial writer covering retirement and health care issues for BenefitsPRO and ALM Media. He greatly enjoys learning from the vast minds in the legal, academic, advisory and money management communities when covering the retirement space. He's also written on international marketing trends, financial institution risk management, defense and energy issues, the restaurant industry in New York City, surfing, cigars, rum, travel, and fishing. When not writing, he's pushing into some land or water.