Advisers Help Millionaires Weather Crisis

Most millionaires stuck with their advisers through the market crisis, but one in 10 stopped working with their adviser, according to an annual study by Fidelity.

The vast majority (85%), however, retained their relationships through the crisis. Furthermore, 41% of millionaires who work with advisers are interested in more contact with their advisers because of the financial crisis.

The study, conducted on behalf of Fidelity Investments and National Financial in December and January, found that the average investable assets of millionaires who work with advisers declined by 4% or $150,000, from $4.01 million to $3.86 million, during 2008, according to a press release of the results. By contrast, the assets of millionaires who do not work with an adviser declined 18% or $630,000, from $3.45 million to $2.82 million, on average.

Millionaires with advisers also showed investment differences from their peers without advisers, by, for instance, being more likely to see opportunity in non-fixed income vehicles, including stocks and alternatives investments.

Specifically, a third of millionaires with advisers plan to increase their exposure to stocks in the next year versus 28% of millionaires without advisers, according the survey. Millionaires who work with an adviser are twice as likely as millionaires without advisers to plan on increasing their alternative investments.

Millionaires give a nod to their advisers’ role in helping them both financially and psychologically through the crisis: 76% said their advisers helped them to limit losses during the financial crisis, and 85% said that contact with their adviser helped them feel more comfortable and better able to cope with the financial environment.

“Our research demonstrates the value advisers provide to an investor’s financial well-being and overall peace of mind,’ said Gail Graham, executive vice president of Fidelity Investments, in the release. “Illustrated by the fact that the majority remain satisfied with their advisers and they have retained their relationships, millionaires have clearly benefited from the expertise, calming influence, and reassuring role advisers often play, particularly during periods of uncertainty.’


More Demand for Advice


In 2008, 20% of millionaires preferred to communicate with their advisers weekly or more, but this year that percentage rose to 29%, Fidelity said. At the same time, the percentage of millionaires who prefer less frequent, quarterly communications declined from 34% last year to 26% this year (see “More Millionaires Using Independent Advisers).

More frequent contact does not necessarily mean in-person. Millionaires are increasingly using e-mail communication. More than a quarter of millionaires (27%) this year prefer to communicate with their adviser via e-mail, versus less 22% last year, according to the survey.

Fidelity Investments’ 3rd Annual Millionaire Outlook surveyed 1,012 financial decisionmakers at 1,000 U.S. households with investable assets of at least $1 million, excluding workplace retirement accounts and any real estate holdings.