The quality of the adviceprovided varies depending on whether it comes from a full-servicesource or stepped down from mid level all the way to self-service.(Photo: Fotolia)

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The substance and quality of advice people get on financialactions vary, depending on whether they're getting that advice on aretail level or at the workplace.

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So says a new report from Hearts & Wallets, which points outthat there's some broad variation between the two sources, withworkplace financial advice mostly focused on 401(k)s while retailadvice tends to “consider more goals andaccount types,” in addition to urging clients to save at higherlevels than workplace-provided advice.

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In addition, the workplace is more likely to offer customerslog-in access to “best practice” digital third-party resources,such as tax and Social Security optimizers and MRD calculators.

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The report “State of Advice & Guidance 2018: Actionable andIntegrated Advice” uses data from Hearts & Wallets' InsideAdvice Benchmarking to find that while a number of advice andguidance experiences talk about more than just retirement planning,and even goal integration across households, they might also covertopics aimed at younger consumers and seek out data that helps tobetter target advice to nontraditional households.

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There are also actionable recommendations, which might provide aretirement age as an answer rather than seeking it as input from acustomer or break down college expenses with comparisons of collegecosts for public vs. private colleges, or living at home comparedwith a dorm or campus residence.

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The quality of the advice provided varies depending on whetherit comes from a full-service source or stepped down from mid levelall the way to self-service. Workplace-provided advice is slightlybetter than retail, the report finds, and full service is slightlybetter than mid level. Recommendations for college savings, forinstance, can be all over the map, varying by tens of thousands ofdollars.

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And so can overall annual savings recommendations, withworkplace savings recommendations lagging retail, since they are somuch more focused on 401(k)s rather than other savings goals.

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READ MORE:

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9 ways to help 401(k) participants savemore

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5 retirement preparedness numbers foremployers

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6 companies with the very best retirementplans

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Marlene Satter

Marlene Y. Satter has worked in and written about the financial industry for decades.