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These Investors Use Financial Advisors the Most

By Kent McDill - Jul 20, 2014 at 2:19PM

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Almost half of investors with a net worth under $1 million do their own investing.

Source: Thomas J. O'Halloran/Library of Congress.

A Spectrem study of wealthy investors shows a correlation between wealth and advisor dependency, with wealthier investors using advisors more frequently.

The study, "Asset Allocation, Product Ownership, and Perception of Providers," looked at investors of three different wealth segments, ranging from mass affluent (with a net worth between $100,000 and $1 million) to ultra-high net worth (with a net worth between $5 million and $25 million).

Investors were further segmented by their advisor usage. "Self-directed" investors make their own investment decisions without the assistance of an investment advisor, "event-driven" investors make most of their own decisions but use an advisor for specialized needs, "advisor-assisted" investors regularly consult an advisor but make most of their own financial decisions, and "advisor-dependent" investors rely on an advisor to make most or all of their financial decisions.

Only 23% of mass affluent investors listed themselves as either advisor-assisted or advisor-dependent, whereas 44% of ultra-high net worth investors placed themselves in the frequent advisor use categories. Whereas only 8% of mass sffluent investors were advisor-dependent, 17% of ultra-high net worth investors were advisor-dependent.

Millionaires fit right in between the two extremes of wealth segmentation. Thirty-five percent of Millionaires listed themselves as either advisor-assisted or advisor-dependent, with 14 percent saying they were advisor-dependent.

Cost is considered one reason less wealthy investors turn to advisors less frequently.

On the other end of the use spectrum, 45% of mass affluent investors say they are self-directed investors with no use of advisors at all. Thirty percent of millionaires designate themselves as self-directed, and 27% of ultra-high net worth investors are doing it themselves.

There are products that advisor-dependent investors purchase more often than self-directed investors. For instance, only 47% of self-directed ultra-high net worth investors own life insurance, while 67% of advisor-assisted and 58% of advisor-dependent investors own life insurance. The percentages are similar for the purchase of mutual funds, either domestic or international.

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