Not Yet Millionaires


There are some investors who have not yet attained a seven-figure net worth.

Many of these investors have financial advisors, and have long-ranging financial plans. They just don’t (yet) have a net worth over $1 million.

In our wealth segmentation series, these investors are known as the Mass Affluent, and our studies show that the Mass Affluent investor has their own specific demands of their advisors as well as specific hopes for their portfolios.

In our study Advisor Relationships and Changing Advice Requirements, Mass Affluent investors are compared to Millionaire investors (with a net worth between $1 million and $5 million) and Ultra High Net Worth investors (with a net worth between $5 million and $25 million).

“For reasons related to their wealth level, Mass Affluent have their specific issues related to their investments and financial situation,’’ said Spectrem President George H. Walper Jr. “While many of them do not use advisors or limit their use of professionals, they are also involved enough to know that the time may come when professional advice can help.”

Unlike wealthier investors, fewer Mass Affluent investors are college graduates, with only 78 percent having college degrees. Only 37 percent of the total Mass Affluent population have advanced college degrees.

For a variety of reasons, a majority of Mass Affluent investors (74 percent) invest without the aid of a financial advisor, or use an advisor only in the case of a major financial event, such as planning for retirement. Sixty-five percent of Mass Affluent investors who do not use an advisor believe they can do a better job of investing than a professional.

Of those Mass Affluent investors who use an advisor, their satisfaction level has not reached the level of satisfaction they felt prior to the recession of 2008, when overall satisfaction was at 83 percent. Today, only 71 percent report overall satisfaction with their advisor, and satisfaction is as low as 51 percent among investors under the age of 36.

For comparison, overall satisfaction with financial advisors is at 76 percent among Millionaires and 78 percent among UHNW investors.

A key component of the relationship between a Mass Affluent investor and their financial advisor appears to be communication. Asked what reason would create a need to change advisors, 62 percent of Mass Affluent investors said “not returning phone calls in a timely manner”. In fact, the top four reasons all had to do with communication, and rated well above the 38 percent who would change due to underperformance against stock market averages.

Finally, advisor fees matter more to Mass Affluent investors, as one might expect. Only 55 percent of Mass Affluent investors are comfortable with the fees they pay their advisors (compared to 61 percent of UHNW investors) and only 30 percent say they do not concern themselves with their advisors fees as long as their assets are growing. That percentage rises to 35 percent among UNHW investors.