U.S. Retail Investor Advice Relationships 2020

Accentuating the Value of Advice

Differentiate in a Commoditized Environment

  • Understand how advice providers should develop their scalable advice strategy to maximize their addressable market
  • Analyze investors’ preferences and sentiments across all aspects of their financial advice relationships
  • Gain insight into the management and optimization of client engagement
  • Assess how advisors can adapt to shifting value propositions amid technological changes and continued fee pressure
  • Explore the digital advice market’s most current market sizing, trends, and growth projections


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Report Retail Investor Advice 2020 Detail

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Drew O'Hearn, CFP

Drew O'Hearn, CFP

Director, Account Management


This annual report is designed to provide insight into the relationship between financial providers and retail investors. It covers the provider-client relationship from end to end, starting with client acquisition, progressing through advice delivery, investment management, and pricing and client retention strategies, among other topics.

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Each report is lead authored by a senior Cerulli analyst with significant industry experience. The report incorporates qualitative and quantitative inputs, based on Cerulli’s proprietary research process. For more on our research process, click here.

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A Note from the Author

Investors' Willingness to Engage in Paid Advice Relationships Has Increased

Scott Smith

Scott Smith


Bio →

Scott Smith

Scott Smith


With more than 20 years of financial services industry experience, Scott leads Cerulli’s research efforts focused on investor behavior and advisory relationships. In his time at Cerulli, he has authored more than two dozen in-depth reports on topics ranging from wholesale distribution to digital advice platforms. His research helps Cerulli’s clients understand how to optimize their platforms given the evolving demand for financial advice.

Scott started his career wearing a headset at Putnam Investments’ service center in 1996, before moving to more strategic roles at MFS Investment Management starting in 2000, and then to Cerulli in 2007. In addition, he currently serves as member of the CFP Board’s Digital Advice Working Group, and as a judge for the Industry Awards.

Full biography here.

Demand for financial advice is climbing. A full 40% of investors surveyed in 2020 say they need more advice than before and 56% are willing to pay for it—up from 51% in 2019. More than ever, advisors are proving their value. Increases in satisfaction during the uncertainty brought on by 2020, paired with very small increases in dissent, suggest that investors are content with their advice relationships, and that the quality of advice has remained high. Overall, 80% of investors express satisfaction with their current advisor, and just 1% indicate dissatisfaction.

Use this report to understand investors’ criteria for selecting advisors and their preferences regarding ongoing communication, including the use of digital tools to augment traditional advisors. This report focuses on affluent investors’ relationships with their financial advice providers and presents data through the lenses of three segmentations—advice orientation, age, and wealth—to help firms fine-tune their value proposition to best address specific market segments. Learn what will set you apart. Explore the findings.

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