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December 16, 2009

Sun Life Financial’s Unretirement Index Finds Friends and Family Trump Financial Advisors, Media and Internet

Less than Half of People Nearing Retirement Turning to Financial Advisors; Advertisements, Blogs and TV Personalities Rank Last for Financial Advice

WELLESLEY, MA (December 16, 2009) - The U.S. division of Sun Life Financial Inc. (NYSE:SLF, TSX:SLF) today released new research from the Sun Life Financial Unretirement Index which reveals that more working Americans seek financial advice from family members and friends over financial advisors, the media and online outlets. The most recent full findings of the biannual Index were announced in October and gauges how economic, financial, and societal forces affect working Americans, and forecasts their future retirement decisions that will impact individuals, the government, employers and the larger economy.

Sun Life’s research shows the top outlets people turn to for financial advice are family, cited by 43 percent of Americans, and friends (39%).  Financial advisors ranked third with 36 percent of Americans naming them as a resource, and older Americans were more likely to look to financial advisors than younger ones, only 45% of workers in their 60s – those closest to retirement – sought financial advice from financial professionals.

While personal relationships seem to be the primary places Americans get their financial advice, media outlets fared less well.  Only one-third of Americans cited online or television news as a place to get this information, and newspapers ranked lower at 28%.  Rounding out the last places people turn to for financial advice are advertisements (11%), blogs and online forums (10%) and TV personalities (10%).  The answers for these categories were consistent across all age groups.

Question: Do you get financial advice from any of the following sources?

 

Total

Age
18-29

Age
30-39

Age
40-49

Age
50-59

Age
60-69

Family Members

43%

64%

50%

40%

32%

33%

Friends

39%

45%

47%

39%

31%

31%

Financial Advisor

36%

19%

33%

41%

40%

45%

News on the Web

33%

32%

36%

37%

33%

27%

TV News

33%

30%

35%

35%

34%

29%

Newspapers

28%

25%

28%

27%

31%

30%

Co-Workers

24%

33%

28%

26%

19%

16%

Advertisements

11%

15%

10%

10%

11%

11%

Blogs and Online Forums

10%

13%

10%

10%

10%

8%

TV Personalities

10%

14%

11%

11%

9%

9%

 “We understand why people would turn to family and friends for advice on important financial decisions, but financial advisors should be alarmed at these findings,” said Wes Thompson, President of Sun Life Financial U.S. “Between the current economy and the flood of Boomers approaching retirement, this is an unprecedented opportunity for advisors to showcase their skills in ensuring younger Americans are correctly planning and investing for their future, and to make sure those about to retire have a proper retirement income plan in place to sustain them during their later years.  Simultaneously, they will need to start transitioning their expertise from accumulation-centric strategies to retirement income strategies.”

The Unretirement Index also found dramatic differences between where younger workers and those closer to traditional retirement age turn for advice. Sixty four percent of workers between the ages of eighteen and twenty nine looked to family members for advice while less than 20% sought the help of a financial advisor. Conversely, workers in their sixties were more likely to seek guidance from a financial adviser (45%) than a family member (33%).  

More information on this question and the Unretirement Index can be found at www.unretirementindex.com

What it means to be Unretired
Unretirement is defined as working at least 20 hours per week after the age when one is eligible to receive Social Security benefits. Sun Life Financial created this Index to learn more about the reasons why Americans are choosing to “unretire,” or continue to work full- or part-time after the age of traditional retirement.  For the complete Unretirement Index results, visit www.unretirementindex.com

Methodology
This edition of the study was conducted from August 14 – Sept. 14, 2009. Telephone interviews were conducted by Interviewing Service of America using a random-digit dial (RDD) sampling method. Quotas and weights were applied to gather a sample of 1,451 people working either full- or part-time, which was representative of the U.S. working population between the ages of 18 and 66. The sample was also representative in terms of gender and four-region census break. Analysis and construction of indices involved the application of factor analysis. Final indices are based on summated averages across the attributes which make up an index.

About Sun Life Financial
Sun Life Financial is a leading international financial services organization providing a diverse range of protection and wealth accumulation products and services to individuals and corporate customers. Chartered in 1865, Sun Life Financial and its partners today have operations in key markets worldwide, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, India, China and Bermuda. As of Sept. 30, 2009, the Sun Life Financial group of companies had total assets under management of US $385.3 billion. Sun Life Financial Inc. trades on the Toronto (TSX), New York (NYSE) and Philippine (PSE) stock exchanges under ticker symbol SLF. Visit Sun Life Financial's U.S. web site at www.sunlife.com/us.

Media Contact:
David Jacobson (781) 446-1955
david.jacobson@sunlife.com