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African Americans Twice as Hopeful About Finances in Philadelphia


News Alert

Tavis Smiley and Nationwide Insurance On Your Side® Tour to hold financial empowerment workshops in Philadelphia

Philadelphia, PA ( -- African Americans in Philadelphia are twice as optimistic as the city's general population that their financial situation will improve over the next year. However, most say they don't have a financial game plan and many don't know where to start, according to a new survey commissioned by The Smiley Group and Nationwide Insurance®. To help people plan for a brighter future, the On Your Side® Tour with Tavis Smiley is holding free financial and retirement planning workshops that focus on empowering the people of Philadelphia with information and resources.

"It's one thing to be positive, but it's another to be practical, proactive and prepared to weather this difficult economic climate," said Smiley. "This survey reveals the critical need in Philly for an honest assessment of our financial status and these workshops will help ensure that we are taking the steps necessary to safeguard the future for ourselves, our families and the next generation."

This free event is August 15 at the Philadelphia Marriott, 1201 Market Street, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Smiley will start the day with a general session, which will be followed by informational breakout sessions where participants will be able to ask questions and receive tools and resources on financial planning, career planning and insurance information. The five-city tour kicked off in Washington DC in June. Additional 2009 scheduled stops include:

* September 19 in Sacramento, Calif.
* October 10 in Charlotte, N.C.
* October 24 in Charleston, S.C.

The need to address financial literacy - especially among African-American households - is highlighted in the survey of 1,600 Americans - including 400 in Philadelphia - that shows a disconnect between Americans' attitudes and actions when it comes to personal financial planning.

While 59 percent of African Americans in Philadelphia expect their household situation to be better a year from now, compared to only 26 percent of the city's general population sharing similar optimism, most African Americans in Philadelphia surveyed indicated they are not taking deliberate actions to better their financial circumstances:

* Fewer than half of African Americans in Philadelphia say they are proactive about their financial future
* 3 in 4 say they do not have a written financial plan
* 3 in 10 say they don't know where to start when it comes to personal financial planning
* 9 in 10 do not have a professional financial advisor, because they don't think they need one or think they can't afford one.

More than half of African Americans in Philadelphia say they are confident in their ability to make savings and investment decisions, but more than 2 out of 5 also indicate they are struggling with credit card debt.

On saving for college, 1 in 3 African Americans in Philadelphia with children under 21 said they are extremely worried about being able to afford a college education for their children, while fewer than 1 in 10 actually have a college savings plan. Only 3 percent say saving for education is their most important financial goal.

Hungry for Information
While few African Americans in Philadelphia have a formal financial advisor or financial plan, African Americans in Philadelphia show a greater interest than the city's general population in obtaining financial and retirement planning information from seminars, a financial advisor, the Internet, an insurance agent or television.

"This study is encouraging because it says that, despite the economic downturn, there is a strong desire in many Philadelphia households to seek out advice and information to overcome the immediate financial challenges and plan for long-term dreams like college and retirement," said Cyndi Tolsma, regional vice president for Nationwide's Northeast Region. "We're holding this workshop in Philadelphia to help, because Nationwide shares Tavis Smiley's passion about empowering people with information and resources that can help them plan for a brighter future and protect what matters most to each household."

Philadelphians are more pessimistic on the economy than the rest of the US
When you look at the entire population, Philadelphians are more likely than the rest of the country to think their financial situation will get worse over the next year.

* 35 percent of people in Philadelphia expect their household situation to be worse a year from now vs. 29 percent of US general population
* Fewer than half say they are proactive about their financial future
* 3 in 4 say they do not have a written financial plan
* 1 in 4 say they don't know where to start when it comes to personal financial planning
* 7 in 10 do not have a professional financial advisor, because they don't think they need one or think they can't afford one.
* 1 in 4 are struggling with credit card debt

"It's crucial that all Americans seek advice and information from someone they trust," said Tolsma. "There are many places to find advice for free and there are also professionals to help."

About the survey
The national, online survey was conducted in January 2009 by the Blackstone Group. A Web panel was used to collect national data for 1,600 respondents split into four sample groups. General Population, ages 18+ (n=600) and African American, ages 18+ (n=600), General Population in Philadelphia, ages 18+ (n=200) and African American in Philadelphia, ages 18+ (n=200). The survey has a margin of error of +/- 7 percent.

About Tavis Smiley and The Smiley Group
Broadcaster Tavis Smiley is an author, philanthropist and host of Tavis Smiley on PBS and The Tavis Smiley Show from PRI (Public Radio International). Smiley has authored 14 books and made publishing history when the book he edited, Covenant with Black America reached No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list. His latest is Accountable: Making America as Good as Its Promise. The Smiley Group, Inc. is a communications corporation established in support of human rights and related empowerment issues. TSG serves as the holding company for various enterprises encompassing broadcast and print media, lectures, symposiums and the Internet. For more information, visit

About Nationwide
Nationwide, based in Columbus, Ohio, is one of the largest and strongest diversified insurance and financial services organizations in the U.S. and is rated A+ by A.M. Best. The company provides a full range of personalized insurance and financial services, including auto insurance, motorcycle, boat, homeowners, life insurance, farm, commercial insurance, administrative services, annuities, mortgages, mutual funds, pensions, long-term savings plans and health and productivity services. For more information,

Nationwide, the Nationwide Framemark and On Your Side are federally registered service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company.

Gayle Saunders 614-249-3687

Vanesse Lloyd Sgambati 215-888-4673


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