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the estate planning industry

Compiled by Christopher Weems, Associate Editor

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Half of Americans Have Not Sought Advice for Financial Planning in Past Year; Survey by American Express and Yankelovich Partners Also Shows That Despite Plethora of Information on the Internet, Most Don't Even Seek Advice Online

Despite the fact that more Americans

are investing in the stock market than ever before, half have not asked for

any direction or advice in planning for their financial futures in the past

year, according to a survey conducted by Yankelovich Partners for

American Express (NYSE: AXP).

And although the Internet provides an abundance of free financial

information and planning tools from a variety of portals, news sites and

financial services companies, few are taking advantage of that resource. Of

those who have sought advice, 62 percent say they do not use the Internet for

financial planning information. Of those who do use the Internet for

financial information, one in four have used portals (Yahoo or MSN), one-fifth

have used general online news sources (CNN.com or MSNBC), and less than one in

10 have used financial news sources, financial services Web sites, online chat

rooms or bulletin boards.

"With the tremendous tools available -- literally at people's fingertips

-- Americans shouldn't be leaving so much of their future to chance," said

Barry Murphy, executive vice president, U.S. retail, at American Express

Financial Advisors.

The Internet provides a wealth of organizational and planning tools,

according to Murphy, such as American Express' Account Profile, a free service

that allows users to organize and track the value of their financial accounts

and assets -- from virtually any financial institution -- at one secure online

site using a single password.

Among the survey findings, age and income made some dramatic differences

in how people are using the Internet for information. Of those who've sought

advice, only 20 percent of those aged 50 and over said they use the Internet

for financial planning information, as opposed to 48 and 41 percent for those

aged 18 to 34, and 35 to 49, respectively.