Do you think you are your clients' only advisor? Don't be so sure, if a Cerulli Associates study is any indication.

The wealthiest investors in the U.S. are turning to more than just one individual for advice when it comes to money. Indeed, high-net-worth clients maintain an average of four "provider relationships," according to research released by Cerulli.

"Wealth provides many investors with the privilege of benefiting from institutional products and prices across asset managers," Donnie Ethier, associate director at Cerulli, said in a statement announcing the research. "It also grants them the ability to leverage their status among providers and advisors. ... High-net-worth investors continue to steadily diversify their advice providers."

The trend accelerated during and immediately after the recession, Cerulli found, suggesting that the interest in multiple advisors was likely a direct result of the market meltdown. Back in 2008, investors with more than $5 million in assets averaged 3.3 provider relationships; by 2013, that number had grown to 4.4, Cerulli said.

One reason for the increase: While these investors appear to be adding new advisors, they are not severing ties with their existing planners. "Overall, high-net-worth investors appear reluctant to terminate existing relationships," Ethier said.

Yet at the same time, these clients do seem to be shifting assets over to the new advisors, Cerulli suggested. "Nearly one-quarter of high-net-worth households report their primary provider controls at least 90% of their investable assets," Ethier said in the statement.

One other interesting note in the survey: While these wealthy investors are collecting a range of financial advice, they are also among the most optimistic investors, the Cerulli researchers found.
"Many high-net-worth investors have moved on from the financial crisis, [as demonstrated by] recovered assets, optimistic economic outlooks, risk tolerances, and product mix," Ethier said. "The damaged trust of many financial institutions post-crisis seems to be a non-factor in the recent increase in provider relationships."


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