11 New Findings on What Clients Really Think of Advisors


U.S. consumer demand for live, hands-on financial advisors continues to grow despite voluminous data and technology designed to empower individuals to handle their own investments, says new research from Cerulli Associates and the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association.

The “advised” investor segment has grown to 47% now from 35% in 2009, while the group  classifying themselves as “self-directed” has fallen to 24% from 41%, according to the research.

At the same time, 63% of investors indicate a willingness to pay for advice, compared with 38% in 2009, Cerulli noted. Interest in formal financial plans has increased to 54% from 38% in the same 14-year stretch, the research found.

“Investors seek advisors with a service set aligned with their financial goals,” Scott Smith, advice relationships director at Cerulli, said in a statement. “Looking forward, we believe demand will be centered around personalized comprehensive advice delivered through trusted advisors.”

Kenneth E. Bentsen, Jr. SIFMA president and CEO, added: “The data clearly indicates that Investors are increasingly choosing professional advice and recognize the value to navigate complicated choices. Trustworthiness and quality of service comprise the foundation of client satisfaction.”

Among the big takeaways, Cerulli and SIMFA found:

“Advised clients want to know that someone is looking out for them, so they don’t have to worry. Clients are very interested in adopting more solutions from trusted providers. The growth of digital offerings and AI should be considered a complement to, rather than a replacement for, human advisors.”


“To ensure long-term client growth, providers will need to offer scalable omni-channel hybrid advice solutions to engage clients before they have met traditionally targeted wealth levels. Displacing providers will become increasingly difficult as incumbents find more ways to extend the breadth of their client relationships with additional solution options.”

The research findings are based on a MarketCast Global Wealth Monitor Survey that targeted affluent U.S. households with more than $250,000 in investable assets and near-affluent households with more than $125,000 in household income and that are headed by someone younger than 45 years old — a respondent base that’s wealthier and slightly younger than the overall American population.

Check the gallery to dig into 11 findings from the research, which Cerulli and SIFMA presented in a webcast Thursday.


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