) -- Affluent investors may be disillusioned with financial institutions, and disheartened that their money-making strategies have been derailed. But that distrust doesn't seem to be directed at their primary advisers.
A survey conducted by
Northstar Research Partners
, a market-research consultancy, found that, despite the stock-market crash that ended earlier this year, wealthy investors will continue to rely on financial advisers. By contrast, many of those who don't have go-to advisers see no reason to hire such professionals.
The Northstar/Sullivan Rebuilding Investor Trust Survey polled 1,539 individual high-net-worth investors. Of those who participated in the study, 89% who had an adviser when the market downturn began in late 2008 say they are working with the same person. Close to two-thirds of respondents (61%) reported a high level of trust in their primary financial adviser.
Paradoxically, only 10% of those same respondents said that, in general, they trust financial advisers.
"I hate the health-care system, but I love my doctor," is the analogy made by Jim Neuwirth, managing director of Northstar Research Partners. "Many affluent investors were not very satisfied with how their advisers supported them during the crisis. They lost a lot of confidence in the financial markets, financial institutions and advisers. But when it comes to their own personal relationship, even if it wasn't perfect, they are willing to give their adviser the benefit of the doubt. Everything you read says that people have completely lost confidence in advisers. That's true, speaking broadly, but not when people talk about their own advisers."
Neuwirth said the survey, conducted over the summer, was intended to gauge attitudes now that the "dust settled a bit" from the downturn that defined much of the past 18 months, when companies including
Bank of America
lost billions of dollars and giants such as
American International Group
almost went out of business.
Its study shows a five-fold increase in the number of affluent investors who aren't confident in their ability to meet financial goals -- 25% versus 5% a year ago. Nearly 79% pinned most of the blame on "big Wall Street firms," and 76% said "Wall Street hasn't learned its lesson."
Nevertheless, only 27% reported that trust in their adviser has declined since before September 2008.
-- Reported by Joe Mont in Boston.