Thirteen percent of affluent Americans closed at least one investment account in the last year, more than double the pace in the previous five years, according to research released Thursday.

Investors say that they are closing investment accounts because of industry consolidation, rollovers, fees, or a need to access funds.

According to Cogent Research, many distributors have been impacted. Among those who closed accounts, 15% reported closing a Fidelity Investment account, 11% closed a Wells Fargo/ Wachovia Securities account, and 10% closed either a Merrill Lynch or E-Trade account (see below for the full list.)

The Cogent Research 2011 Investor Brandscape report was based on a national survey of 4,000 American investors with at least $100,000 in investable assets.

Eighteen percent of investors surveyed who closed an account last year did so because of a desire to consolidate or simplify accounts. Meanwhile, 14% said their actions were the result of moving or rolling over retirement assets to another provider.

Twelve percent cited either fees or the fact that they needed the assets for another purpose. The number that cited rollover as their reason for closing an account doubled last year compared to the previous five years, and the number citing a need to access account funds tripled.

“These numbers are a result of a confluence of events,” said Meredith Lloyd Rice, a senior research director at Cogent who wrote the report. “With Boomers retirement now hitting full stride, economic conditions forcing some investors to liquidate accounts, and an all-out price war among several key distributors, investors certainly have plenty of good reasons to reevaluate their current account options.”

The net result is that the total number of accounts dropped from 3.54 per household in 2009 to 3.29 accounts this year.

“Providers have long known that they would need to step-up their game if they hoped to keep their fair share of the billions of dollars in retirement assets about to become un-tethered,” Rice said. “Well, the game is not only on, the competition just got tougher given that fewer accounts are up for grabs.”


Fidelity Investments: 15%
Wells Fargo Advisors/Wachovia: 11%
Merrill Lynch: 10%
E*Trade: 10%
Morgan Stanley Smith Barney: 8%
TD Ameritrade: 8%
Charles Schwab: 7%
Ameriprise: 6%
Vanguard: 6%
T. Rowe Price: 5%
ING DIRECT/Sharebuilder: 5%
Edward Jones: 5%
JP Morgan Chase: 5%
AXA Advisors: 3%
Scottrade: 3%
John Hancock: 2%
UBS: 2%

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Financial Planning content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access