Individual investors are slowly abandoning pure self-direction and are turning to financial professionals for advice, according to a new study by an investor data company. But this isn't a return to the way things used to be, said Hearts & Wallets, the Rye, N.Y.-based research firm that conducted the study of 40,000 individuals.
Today's investors are what the firm calls "hybrids," who use a mix of paid and free live professional advice, digital advice and their own insights. They now account for 41% of all U.S. households, the firm said.
Blenders of digital and live advice include 68% of consumers ages 35 to 44 with investable assets between $100,000 and $250,000, and 85% of consumers under age 35 who have over $1 million in assets. In all, over 75% of consumers under age 45 with assets of over $250,000 are "hybrids," the firm said.
"Nobody should think investors who blend live advice and technology are a uniform group," said Laura Varas, the firm's CEO and founder. "As blending becomes the norm, it will be important to develop more nuanced definitions to build the right solutions."
The study found that mobile use as a source of information and advice has tripled over the last six years at the national level. Nearly two-thirds (60%) of consumers ages 21 to 27 now use mobile, as do 31% of consumers ages 40 to 52.
The top three online activities nationally for consumers are checking their accounts, using planning calculators and tools, and visiting finance portals. For mobile, the top two activities are the same, but "using social media" and "watching videos and podcasts" tie for No. 3.
The biggest generational difference is that younger consumers tend to be more interested in social media, watching videos and downloading podcasts, Hearts & Wallets said, noting that almost half of consumers ages 21 to 39 now use social media for investing information.