By Mark McLaughlin, Special to CNBC.com

NEW YORK ( CNBC) -- The financial crisis left many investors blaming financial advisors for failing to shield them from deep losses or to explain the risks of the exotic yet highly profitable products they were sold.

"I didn't get a call during the market implosion and received no advice when my retirement funds were shrinking,'' says Tom Hoebbel, a photographer in upstate New York, who fdropped his Edward Jones advisor in fall 2008.

Hoebbel is not alone. Forty-five percent of investors surveyed last January by ING Direct had reduced or eliminated their relationship with a financial professional. And fifty-seven said they could do just as well making their own investment decisions.
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Entering 2011 after two straight years of double-digit gains for stocks, investors who ditched an advisor are feeling pretty confident with their decision.

Yet given stubbornly high volatility, the limitations of a buy-and-hold approach, and longer retirements to plan for, financial planning experts say such confidence may be misplaced.

"It's possible to be successful on your own, but most investors are almost certainly due to fail,'' says Larry Swedroe, author of ten books geared to individual investors and principal of St. Louis advisory firm BAM. "Most people should have a financial advisor of some kind.''

More Americans are coming to realize they need help. Financial advice topped the list of professional services consumers would like to use in 2011, according to a survey by Allianz Life Insurance.

Here's why you should swallow your pride and consider meeting with a financial advisor this year:

The Risks Have Changed

The 2008 meltdown was not limited to stocks, as investment-grade corporate bonds and fixed-income instruments deemed safe also suffered steep losses.

The crisis uncovered the dangers in relying on third-party rating agencies to accurately assess bond risks while the shaky finances of state and local governments today have raised the risk profile of previously staid and profitable municipal bonds.

"Markets become more complicated every day,'' says Charles Massimo, president of CJM Fiscal Management in Melville, N.Y.