Mass affluent investors, the bread and butter client for BIC readers, continue to be a finicky bunch. Just when you may think they’d seek the advice of a financial professional, many are rather staying away in droves. That’s the conclusions of a report from the Deloitte Center for Financial Services.

The report, “The Out of Sync Advisor” says that one-third of mass affluent investors do not work with a financial advisor. Moreover, 42% of those individuals had worked with advisors in the past.

The change stems from the crisis in 2008 and 2009, says Edward Tracy, head of Deloitte’s U.S. wealth management practice and author of the report. “Their approach to investing and the way they look at advice has changed,” he said. That contrasts to the years before the crisis—the period the report refers to as “paradise lost”—when the “market was buoyant and likely covered a multitude of sins,” according the report. “Since returns were ‘everything’ (or close to it) and most investors had reasonable returns, advisors may not have needed to worry too much about other dimensions of performance. They could do little and still reap that rewards.”

But now, many investors are increasingly scrutinizing the advice they get and realizing the true value of their advisors derives from what they can contribute beyond returns, the report says.

The takeaway for advisors is both big and small. Tracy talks about broad themes that will require institutional changes in mindset, as well as new technologies that make data entry easier. But one of the most important takeaways, he says, is the importance of goal-based investing. Advisors and clients need to think of their investments as “buckets” that are earmarked for specific costs, whether that means education, housing or another expense. This is opposed to the traditional mindset of viewing a portfolio as one pile of money that pays for everything.

For the necessary changes to restore trust in client relationships, he says he sees glimpses mostly from the RIA space. Open architecture, low-cost solutions, non-conflicted advice and a range of services that go beyond investing are all striking the right chord with clients, he says.

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