Affluent Investors Report an Increase in Both Advisor Use and Self-Managed Accounts

November 22, 2021 — Boston

Affluent investors are more frequently seeking advisor guidance while also becoming more involved in their portfolios, creating a complicated engagement environment for advisors, according to the latest Cerulli Edge—U.S. Retail Investor Edition.

The proportion of affluent investors who consider themselves predominantly advisor-reliant rose from 37% in 2015 to 42% in 2021. This growth occurred in tandem with the near doubling in the incidence of maintaining self-managed accounts from 35% to 69% during the same period. Currently, more than two-thirds (69%) of affluent investors report owning self-managed accounts, which account for 33% of their overall investment assets.

From an age-based perspective, affluent investors ages 40–49 (77%) report the highest incidence of maintaining self-managed accounts. Investors in this cohort often carry legacy accounts established earlier in their investing lifecycles in addition to adding self-managed accounts as a result of rollovers from retirement plans with previous employers. The combination of increasing balances and taking retirement planning more seriously as they pass the midpoint of their careers increases their interest in engaging with advice professionals. “In these cases, advisors are well served by acknowledging the progress the self-managed investor has made on their own, and then highlighting the additional value their practice can provide,” says Scott Smith, director. “Investing can seem easy with a long-time horizon and few obligations, but as these investors encounter the intersection of funding their children's post-secondary education and their own retirement, spreading the responsibility can be a welcome relief.”

Regardless of where investors fall on the self-managed continuum, the responsibility lies with the platforms they use to make sure that these investors are provided with access to both usable and worthwhile research tools and the opportunity to easily broaden the depth of their advice relationship. “Moving forward, self-managed accounts will increasingly serve both as an acquisition tool to develop lifetime wealth management clients and as a long-term complement to fully advised relationships,” says Smith. “To optimize their market opportunity, firms will need to both prove the value they can provide in each setting and make the interaction between them seamless based on the user’s preferences rather than their platform’s limitations.”

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Note to editors

These findings and more are from The Cerulli Edge—U.S. Retail Investor Edition, 4Q 2021 Issue.

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