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Financial Advice: An Improvement for Worse?

41 Pages Posted: 18 Nov 2010 Last revised: 17 Jun 2013

Yigitcan Karabulut

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM); CEPR

Date Written: June 17, 2013


In this paper, I analyze the role of financial advisors in individual investment decisions and ask whether financial advice is a reliable substitute for individuals' financial literacy. I report two main findings. First, I show that individuals who tend to be financially less sophisticated are more likely to consult professional advisors, which supports the notion that financial advice serves as a substitute for financial literacy. Second, when I analyze the impact of financial advice on portfolio choice, I find that, if anything, use of financial advice does not improve the quality of individuals' investment decisions. For example, I document that advised investors earn lower raw and risk-adjusted returns than self-directed investors, even before deducting advisory fees and transaction costs. Overall, the evidence presented in this study casts doubts on the ability of financial advice to serve as an effective substitute for financial literacy.

Keywords: Financial advice, individual investors, household finance

JEL Classification: D12, D14, D8, D18

Suggested Citation

Karabulut, Yigitcan, Financial Advice: An Improvement for Worse? (June 17, 2013). Available at SSRN: or

Yigitcan Karabulut (Contact Author)

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) ( email )


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