Why the Rich Tend to Cheat on Their Brokers

Why the Rich Tend to Cheat on Their Brokers

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By Marine Cole

For affluent Americans, having more than one financial adviser has now become the norm.

One in three Americans with more than $100,000 in investable assets started a relationship with a new financial services firm last year, seeking to combine the strengths of various firms to gain advice and resources, according to a new study released Tuesday by Hearts & Wallets, a financial research platform for consumers.

Related: The 6 Times You Really Need a Financial Adviser

Hearts & Wallets also noted that 55 percent of consumers with $500,000 in investable assets or more work with three or more firms.

Contrary to the popular image of wealthy investors dialing up their Wall Street broker, the Hearts & Wallets survey found that affluent investors are more likely to use self-service firms — discount brokerages like E*Trade or TD Ameritrade — than full-service brokers. More than 70 percent of investors with $500,000 or more use those self-service brokers, even if it’s for smaller “play money” accounts, compared with 40 percent for full-service firms such as Ameriprise and Edward Jones.

“It’s astonishing the self-service competitive set has deeper reach into investors with $500,000-plus, engaging more affluent investors than the full-service competitive set,” said Laura Varas, Hearts & Wallets partner and co-founder, in a press release.

Related: 6 Traits of an Emerging Millionaire: Are You One?​​​

Some wealthy investors use both. A common pattern is what Hearts & Wallets calls “stable two-timing,” or when investors balance a self-service firm with a full-service firm. Some consumers might even tap into multiple high-service firms to obtain different advice.

“Just as in retail stores, wealthy customers may trust and frequent a Bloomingdale’s, but they will still shop at Costco, too,” Varas said. “Smart consumers compare.”

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