Planners, dust off your welcome mats!

According to a PriceWaterhouseCoopers survey, a large portion of clients who use investment bank wealth management services are dissatisfied with their advisers and are considering finding new ones.

Clients want a combination of new technologies, products and relationship models together with personal service and advice, the survey said. Without that, they are becoming increasingly disloyal to financial institutions -- 43% said they were considering changing to a more intimate relationship. Yet 31% of participants said that a lack of alternatives was the reason they have not already changed advisers. (Other factors included re-establishing relationships, cost and time, according to PWC.)

Approximately 41% of the participants also want specialists included as part of their wealth management services. Only 17% said they have someone who puts them in touch with a product specialist when appropriate.

This poses a challenge to those institutionally based firms where -- in addition to the already sour economy -- margins are being squeezed and competition for market share is rising.

For the independent advisers though, unhappy institutional customers could mean greater assets under management for them. "It represents a big opportunity," said George Strickland, a planner with Financial Synergies Advisory in Houston. "All of the institutions are trying to change their business models to be more advisory-type based than transaction based. They have a cultural change they have to make."

The survey also detailed the difference in investment expectations held by typical clients of institutional wealth management groups. Clients with fewer investable assets identified significant growth in their net worth as top priority, expecting to allocate more money to growth equities in the next three years, while high-net-worth individuals want modest growth and were more likely to choose a portfolio balancing income and growth securities.

Although Strickland said high-net-worth clients expect reasonable performance, service is an equal priority. "We try to develop a partner relationship with our clients, rather than one which is a product provider," he said.

The study, performed by the Economic Intelligence Unit for PriceWaterhouse, interviewed executives at more than 40 institutions and surveyed 125 executives online during this past September and October.

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