Independent advisors who have kept in touch with clients have been the most effective vehicle for maintaining consumers’ confidence during the financial crisis.

Consultants at McKinsey & Company, New York, have published that conclusion in a summary of results from a survey of 2,000 U.S. consumers conducted in January.

Only 40% of the participating consumers said they had been contacted by their financial advisor about the financial crisis. But those advisors that did get in touch were twice as likely to receive referrals from clients and to be seen as extremely able to address their clients’ retirement needs, McKinsey says.

Advisors at independent firms have been the most hands-on and also the most effective at addressing consumers’ concerns and at maintaining clients? preparation for retirement; McKinsey says.

Althought independents now top the list of institutions that the participating consumers trust with their assets, just 44% of survey participants said they have a high level of trust in independent financial institutions.

Banks have captured the largest share of money in motion over the past 6 months, as consumers have moved assets into conservative investments, including cash, cash equivalents and guaranteed deposits, McKinsey reports.

Consumers listed an institution’s brand strength and financial stability as the most important factors in asset retention or loss. Investment performance ranked relatively low.

Despite the financial crisis, 83% of participating consumers said that they had not made any changes to their 401(k) or other defined-contribution plans over the previous 6 months and did not plan to do so in the next 6 months. However, more than 60% of defined-contribution plan participants now are interested in the idea of an investment option that provides guaranteed income in retirement, McKinsey says.

On average, participants in the survey had lost 27% of their investable assets, the firm found.

But 71% said they do not plan to postpone retirement to cope with their changed financial circumstances. Instead, consumers are cutting spending (60%) and paying down debt (73%). They also plan to to spend more of their assets in retirement and leave smaller estates.