Though lots of rich people research retirement products on the Internet, most apparently turn to financial advisers for the actual planning.

A recent survey by Nationwide Financial Services Inc. of 805 professionals under age 60 with annual incomes of over $150,000 per year found that 40% of them research retirement products on the Internet. But only 13% use the Internet as a resource for retirement planning advice, the Columbus, Ohio, company found.

More than 80% still prefer talking with a financial adviser about their retirement needs.

“It’s clear to me that when it comes to actual planning, customers are looking for trust, confidence and interaction with their advisers to feel good about making their investment decisions,” said Matt Riebel, president of Nationwide Financial Institution Distributors Agency Inc., the company’s bank distribution arm for retirement products. “You won’t get that from the Internet.”

In particular, “no one goes on the Internet to buy annuities,” Mr. Riebel said. “They are the kind of product that’s sold, not bought.”

Though the survey dealt only with the distinctly prosperous, Mr. Riebel said he thinks middle-class people also turn advisers to buy variable life and annuities.

Carmen Effron, president of the C.F. Effron Co. consulting firm, in Westport, Conn., said one reason that the affluent use advisers when they want to make a purchase is that they are too busy making money to buy online.

“It has less to do with how much you make and more to do with a function of time,” Ms. Effron said. “The more money you make, the less time you have for finances. If 99% of your time is spent making money, it’s a good way to spend your time. So they’ll let an adviser make the decision on what annuities to invest in.”

Mr. Riebel said a financial services company’s Web site should “provide good, easy-to-use information” for brokers, advisers, and customers. “The key is to make it clear and concise, because people don’t want to struggle to get the information,” he said. Ms. Effron said that everything a bank offers should be listed on its Web site. “If I go on a bank’s Internet site, I should be able to easily find an investment center or a phone number to talk to someone about investment planning,” she said. “Also, a list of all the [insurance] carriers available, because it’s the carrier that has the ultimate responsibility.”

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.