About 15% of affluent investors are considering a move within the next month. The most likely landing spot is Vanguard, followed by Fidelity and USAA, according to a new monthly survey by Phoenix Marketing International, a research firm in Rhinebeck, N.Y.

Phoenix polled individual investors age 21 and older who have at least $100,000 in investable assets, beyond company retirement plans. Of those surveyed, over 36% said that they anticipated making a change soon with their investment account, brokerage relationship, or financial advisor. That percentage is slightly lower than it has been in the previous three quarters, when 38-40% of such investors anticipated account activity.

Most of that expected account activity might be considered routine: contributing to an existing IRA, seeking assistance for retirement planning, and investigating online trading providers were the most frequently reported changes planned by investors.

However, among those affluent investors expecting to take action, 41% are looking for a new relationship with a financial investment firm. Thus, about 15% of those surveyed (41% of 36.6%) might be initiating a new relationship with a financial investment firm or investigating online trading providers.

The Phoenix study reveals how individual brokerage firms are considered by their prospects or non-account holders. The firms with the highest reported consideration, based on what investors have seen or heard about the brand, are Vanguard (31.1%), Fidelity (26.8%), and USAA (23.5%). Next on the list are American Funds, Charles Schwab, Franklin Templeton, T. Rowe Price, TD Ameritrade, TIAA-Cref, and Wells Fargo Advisors.

"Our historical monthly data show that investors who are in the market for a change are younger than investors who are staying put and they are more likely to place four or more online trades each month," stated Cait Robbins, the Phoenix analyst responsible for the study. "We also see that investors planning a change are generally working full time, fewer are retired, and a larger share report household income in excess of $100,000." Phoenix also noted that affluent investors planning some activity report lower levels of investable assets than others surveyed; that is, investors planning to take some action within the next month are less likely to have $250,000 or more in their portfolio, compared with those who anticipate staying put.

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