First Command News & Media


First Command Reports: Savings habit strongest in families with a financial advisor

The First Command Financial Behaviors Index® reveals that three out of four middle-class service members who work with a financial advisor contributed to a savings or retirement account during the first quarter

Print-friendly PDF

FORT WORTH, Texas – Career military families who work with a financial advisor are out saving their do‐it‐yourself counterparts, reinforcing the value of working with a professional.

The First Command Financial Behaviors Index® reveals that 75 percent of middle-class military families (commissioned officers and senior NCOs in pay grades E-5 and above with household incomes of at least $50,000) who work with a financial advisor contributed to savings and retirement accounts during the first quarter. That’s 32 points higher than those who do not use an advisor.

“These results emphasize the significant contributions financial advisors make in coaching service members to improve their money behaviors,” said Scott Spiker, CEO of First Command Financial Services, Inc. “Financial advisors are helping their career military clients take the kinds of positive actions that help consumers feel more confident in their financial future.”

Service members who work with a financial advisor are more likely to contribute to:

  • Short-term savings (79 percent versus 53 percent for those without an advisor). Monthly median contributions for the two groups are $500.
  • Long-term savings (70 percent versus 24 percent). Monthly median contributions for the two groups are $357 and $250, respectively.
  • Retirement (77 percent versus 51 percent). Monthly median contributions for the two groups are $500.

Looking ahead, military families who use financial advisors are more likely than others to say they will increase savings in the months ahead (36 percent versus 28 percent). Their strong savings efforts are helping them feel more confident than their do-it-yourself colleagues. They are more likely to believe their financial situation will improve in the next year (62 percent versus 36 percent) and in their ability to retire comfortably (62 percent versus 30 percent).

The savings behaviors and intentions of career military families remained steady in the first quarter. These results were reflected in the overall Index score of 136, which was statistically unchanged from the end of 2015. (The Index is set to a benchmark of 100, which was assigned when the Index was launched in 2008.)

“Maintaining strong money habits will be critical for our career service members and their families now and in the times ahead,” Spiker said. “For several years they have experienced the impact of cuts to military personnel costs as part of sequestration and defense downsizing. They are dealing with another year of reduced pay raises and housing allowances and proposals to overhaul TRICARE. And they are striving to understand the impact of a new military retirement system, which will cut the traditional pension by 20 percent. Despite these multiple sources of anxiety, military families with a financial advisor by their side continue to maintain confidence in their financial future.”

About First Command Financial Behaviors Index®

Compiled by Sentient Decision Science, Inc., the First Command Financial Behaviors Index® assesses trends among the American public's financial behaviors, attitudes and intentions through a monthly survey of approximately 530 U.S. consumers aged 25 to 70 with annual household incomes of at least $50,000. Results are reported quarterly. The margin of error is +/- 4.3 percent with a 95 percent level of confidence. Financial Behaviors Index

About Sentient Decision Science, Inc.

Sentient Decision Science was commissioned by First Command to compile the Financial Behaviors Index®. SDS is a behavioral science and consumer psychology consulting firm with special vertical expertise within the financial services industry. SDS specializes in advanced research methods and statistical analysis of behavioral and attitudinal data.

About First Command

First Command Financial Services and its subsidiaries, including First Command Bank and First Command Financial Planning, assist American families in their efforts to build wealth, reduce debt and pursue their lifetime financial goals and dreams—focusing on consumer behavior as the first and most powerful determinant of results. Through knowledgeable advice and coaching of the financial behaviors conducive to success, First Command Financial Advisors have built trustworthy, lasting relationships with hundreds of thousands of client families since 1958.


Hiring Our Heroes Project Sanctuary AUSA First Command Educational Foundation Marine Corps Marathon FPA Alliance