U.S. Retail Investor Advice Relationships 2021

Navigating Perpetual Unease

Differentiate in a Commoditized Environment

  • Address the planning impacts of pandemic recovery
  • Reduce the impact of behavioral biases
  • Understand portfolio durability during periods of crisis


Discounts available for bulk purchase

Report Retail Investor Advice 2020 Detail

Buy Now

Drew O'Hearn, CFP

Drew O'Hearn, CFP

Senior Director, Account Management


Explore affluent investors’ relationships with their financial advice providers. Understand investors’ criteria for selecting advisors and their preferences regarding ongoing communication, including the use of digital tools to augment traditional advisors. Fine-tune your value proposition to best address specific market segments.

Included with Purchase



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.

Executive summary

Executive Summary

Get the most important report findings distilled in an easy-to-understand and highly visual format before you begin your journey through the report or use it as a tool for senior leadership.

Interactive report dashboard

Interactive Report Dashboard

Access consolidated data from multiple report exhibits in a single comparative view. Flexibly build your view of data with customizable filters and share the results in a format that meets your requirements.

Analyst support

Analyst Support

Got a question? Our analysts are available to help you interpret and analyze key findings as well as provide their perspective on industry trends.


Data Behind the Report

Data is the foundation of our reports. Each study contains nearly 100 exhibits, available to buyers in Excel format. Extract and explore Cerulli’s data and analysis your way.


Digital Access

Access your reports digitally anytime, anywhere, on any device through our client portal.

A Note from the Author

Investor Satisfaction Hits an All-Time High

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.

Over the last 12 years, investor satisfaction with the quality of financial advice received has skyrocketed from 41% in 2009 to 81% as of 2Q 2021. While this bodes well for existing traditional advice models, advisors must broaden the scope of their guidance and update their offerings to match evolving investor preferences to minimize the threat of client defection and optimize new client acquisition.

What can advisors do to retain this sentiment?

Employ behavioral finance techniques: According to our research, increased attention to clients’ emotional biases through the lens of behavioral finance can be an impactful tool in helping set goals, maintain investment discipline, and reduce decision fatigue.

Leverage collaboration tools, including financial planning: 55% of investors find it important to have a written financial plan, up from 38% in 2009. Advisors with effective collaboration tools can use this as an opportunity to increase their engagement levels with current and prospective clients.

Understand engagement preferences: Investors’ willingness to consider adopting an online-only financial advice relationship has not grown substantially from 2017 (43%) through 2Q 2021 (45%). Though digital advice will likely remain an important initial option for younger, less affluent investors, these emerging investors will likely want access to an individual advisor as their needs evolve.

These findings, along with a complete sizing of the retail investor market in the U.S., can be viewed in depth in Cerulli’s latest report, U.S. Retail Investor Advice Relationships 2021: Navigating Perpetual Unease.

Contact Us

Want More Information?

Learn more about this report and related Cerulli research.

Contact Us

You May Also be Interested in:

  • Annual report
  • The Cerulli Edge
Consulting Page module Rocket 120820

Strategic Consulting & Custom Research

Cerulli Consulting

Understand where to allocate resources to achieve your objectives. We can help you determine which initiatives are likely to be successful and those that may not achieve the desired effect. In an increasingly competitive market, our objectivity and experience can help you to advance your firm’s unique strengths.

Learn More

We use cookies to improve your site experience, distinguish you from other users and support the marketing of our services. These cookies may store your personal information. By continuing to use our website, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device. For more information, please visit our Privacy Notice.