Advisors are missing opportunities to better serve their affluent clients in several areas, a Dow Jones study found, including retirement planning, tax strategies and estate planning. The Dow Jones Affluent Investor Study, released Monday, found that while advisors have strong bonds with their clients, they don't "fully leverage those bonds to serve their clients’ broader financial needs."
In fact, greater numbers of affluent investors are becoming "self-directed" investors, relying on their own research and abilities to invest their money, even while they continue to use an advisor. In a webinar held Tuesday on the survey, Thomas Coyle, special writer for Dow Jones Newswires compared investors to passengers in a car. Before the recession, he said, investors were satisfied to sit in the back seat. Now that those clients are more educated and asking more "pointed questions," they are sitting in the front seat. "They don't want to drive, but they want to see what's going on," Coyle said.
Jason Zweig, a columnist for The Wall Street Journal, pointed out that even if clients are investing some of their money through online brokerages, advisors still have a role in their clients' financial lives.
"It's remarkable," Zweig said in the webinar, "that everyone isn't self-directed given how easy and cheap that's become. The reason that more people aren't self-directed is that they don't want to be." There are several reasons clients may not want to do their own investing, Zweig said. "They may want someone else to blame when things go wrong, they may want someone else to validate their decisions, and they may just not want to be bothered. But in any case, as the financial world continues to grow more complex, it seems pretty obvious that the share that advisors can have of the typical investors' wallet probably isn't going to go down very much."
Despite 41% of affluent investors who said online or discount brokerages were their primary investment channel, 63% said they rely on their financial advisor or broker for advice, more than any other source. Furthermore, 47% said they rely on their advisor the most.