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(Graphic: Charles Schwab)

According to a new study from Schwab, seven in 10 affluent investors feel today’s financial markets are too complicated to navigate without an advisor. One-third of study participants also say their desire for investment advice has increased in the past year, and three-quarters say they are most confident making investment decisions when they collaborate with their investment professional; just one-third say they feel that same level of confidence when making investment decisions by themselves.

Advice and the Affluent Investor: A Study of Attitudes and Behavior by Charles Schwab (AAIS) surveyed more than 1,000 affluent Americans who receive some form of professional financial advice. Seventy percent of those surveyed work with a single advisor, and while on average their advisor handles 43 percent of their assets, nine in 10 want to work with an advisor who looks at their entire financial picture.

Trust and transparency are cornerstones of these relationships. Those surveyed trust individuals in the financial services industry (72 percent) more than financial services companies (42 percent), and 10 percent trust no one; an overwhelming majority want transparency around how their advisor is compensated for the advice they are providing (85 percent).

“Regardless of how much and how deep the advice, today’s affluent investors have one thing in common: they want a trusted expert on their side looking at the big picture on their behalf,” says Bernie Clark, executive vice president and head of Schwab Advisor Services.

As of May 31, Schwab’s suite of advice offerings for retail investors has grown to $139 billion assets under management from $114 billion the prior year. Additionally, as of March 31, Schwab custodied $895 billion in client assets for more than 7,000 independent Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs).

The study found that very few (11 percent) affluent investors see themselves as advanced investors; most label themselves as an intermediate (68 percent) and one in five (21 percent) describe themselves having beginner skills. Fully half of respondents see investing as a chore, and not an activity they particularly love or hate. Despite these tepid feelings, four in ten (41 percent) say they are much more involved in their investments in 2013 than they were in 2012.

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