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War for Young Rich Could Be Won by Video

"One thing that surprised us was that 37% of this wealthy population felt that markets were not a level playing field, where an individual investor really had a fair chance at succeeding," Waitman says. "How much money do you actually have to have now to buy a piece of Facebook from Goldman Sachs (GS)? There is certainly a sense that the individual investor doesn't have the chance to participate in the kinds of investments that others can, and I think that is reflected in the fact that over a third of this group of investors feels that this is not a fair place to play."

Wealthy investors under 50 tend to spread their assets across multiple firms and financial advisers: 80% of those surveyed by Cisco have their assets at more than one firm, with more than a quarter spreading investments to four firms or more. In general, 30% said they have doubts about the fundamental value proposition of an adviser; 49% said the fees charged by financial advisers are too high and 40% said they believe they can get better results on their own.

"It was surprising to us to see the number of people who have no financial adviser," Waitman says. "They don't think the adviser can necessarily beat the market, so what are they paying for?"

Wealthy investors under 50 constitute a significant opportunity -- and a potential challenge -- to financial services firms, according to Cisco's study. They represent 29% of total wealthy investors in the United States, and their importance to financial services firms will continue to grow as wealth is transferred from older generations. Sixty-seven percent expect to get a substantial gift or inheritance in the next 10 years; 27% have switched advisers in the past two years (vs. 10% for older clients) and 32% are likely to switch financial advisers in the next year.

"These people are only going to get older, so they are really moving into the sweet spot, the most wealthy portion of their lives, and they are going to be more and more important," Waitman says. "This age bracket tends to be more involved and spend far more time managing their investments than older clients. Thirty eight percent want to interact with heir financial advisers at least on a weekly basis, compared to 7% of older clients. That's a huge difference in the amount of interaction and attention that they want from a financial adviser. They are not in the position of a retiree who has largely a fixed-income portfolio, where it doesn't matter too much what the market does. These are people who are pretty much in it, and they are demanding more."

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