Financial Literacy Seminar Series

March 9, 2017

3:30 PM - 5:00 PM

Seminar I | Investors in the United States 2016

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Gary Mottola

Research Director, FINRA Investor Education Foundation

FinLit Talks: Interviews with Financial Literacy Thought Leaders


George Washington University School of Business
Duquès Hall, Room 650
2201 G Street NW
(main entrance on 22nd Street between G and H Streets)

Bio: Gary Mottola

Gary R. Mottola is the Research Director of the FINRA Investor Education Foundation and a social psychologist with over 20 years of research experience, much of which was spent in the financial services industry.  In his role at FINRA, he oversees and conducts research projects aimed at better understanding financial capability in America, protecting investors from financial fraud, and improving financial disclosure statements.  Dr. Mottola received his B.A. from the University at Albany, his M.A. from Brooklyn College and his Ph.D. from the University of Delaware.  He was a visiting scholar at Wharton in 2006 and is an adjunct professor of statistics in Villanova University’s Economics Department.



The National Financial Capability Study (NFCS) is designed to measure perceptions, attitudes, experiences, and behaviors on a wide variety of topics. The largest component of the NFCS, the State-by-State Survey, is conducted across a large, diverse sample in order to provide a comprehensive analysis of the financial capability of the national population as a whole. As such, the breadth of subject areas covered in the State-by-State Survey necessarily limits the depth to which any individual subject can be explored, particularly in areas such as investing outside of retirement accounts, which applies to only a minority of the population. To provide more insight on investing decisions, a separate follow-up survey of investors was conducted as part of the 2015 NFCS. The Investor Survey explores topics such as relationships with investment brokers and advisors, understanding and perceptions of fees charged for investment services, usage of investment information sources, attitudes towards investing in general, and investor literacy.

This report outlines findings from the 2015 Investor Survey, an online survey conducted among a sample of 2,000 respondents who completed the 2015 State-by-State Survey and indicated that they have investments held in non-retirement accounts. A large majority of these respondents (87%) also have investments in retirement accounts, though retirement investments are not specifically addressed in the survey.