Opportunities for advisors are widening even as clients increase the number of providers they use, according to research from Cerulli Associates.

“There’s a lot of opportunities in the market still for a lot of providers,” says Roger Stamper, a senior analyst at Cerulli whose research appears in the first quarter issue of The Cerulli Edge – Advisor Edition.

Since the financial crisis, the advice market has become more fragmented, with investors nearly doubling the number of advisors they use. “While that might seem that there are less opportunities, it actually creates more opportunities,” Stamper says. 

In his research analysis, Stamper identifies pockets of investors who say they not only need more financial and investment advice in their household but are also willing to pay for it. For bank advisors, mass-affluent investors in their 40s with $100,000 to $500,000 in investable assets constitute an especially promising target group. One in four investors in this segment represent what Stamper dubs an “advice opportunity,” meaning they want more advice and will pay for it if needed. Moreover, the group is large, with nearly 4.7 million households controlling $1 trillion in assets.

“For bank advisors, it is a good type of client to think about,” Stamper says.

This segment is well suited for bank advisors even with direct providers nipping at their heels, he contends. Despite the ground that online providers have gained over the last few years, most people in this cohort have a relationship with a bank, putting bank advisors at an advantage vis-à-vis their online challengers.  In addition, as banks open their platforms to incorporate managed account programs, advisors are better positioned to compete with their do-it-yourself rivals, according to Stamper.

“I think direct providers are truly growing but I think that bank advisors can still make waves,” Stamper says.

Overall, investors between 50 and 59 are the best target for advisors across all channels, with 23% representing an advice opportunity, according to the research. This cohort has the most assets, holding more than $9 trillion in assets.

Bank advisors are also well positioned to serve this prosperous contingent, according to Stamper. “If you look at clients and what they’re looking for toward retirement … they want their banking with their investments or with their retirement accounts,” he says. “Banks have a leg up on that.”

Read MoreBanks Need Narrower Focus on Mass-Affluent Market

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