More HNW investors seeking advice, says Investment Trends

Australian high-net-worth (HNW) investors are increasingly taking financial advice amid market volatility, with the pressure on advisers to demonstrate their value.

According to Investment Trends' 2015 High Net Worth Investor Report, about 42 per cent of HNW investors are using at least one adviser as a source of investment advice, up from 40 per cent in the previous year.

Considering advised HNW clients are more likely than their unadvised peers to have unmet financial needs, the uptake means there is opportunity for advisers to improve their offering, the report said.

"Preference for control remains the largest barrier to taking up advice among HNWs, but next comes the question of the adviser's expertise which is central to building perceptions of value," said Investment Trends senior analyst Irene Guiamatsia.

"The onus is on advisers to rethink their approach to service delivery. It is about engaging investors in a way that keeps them at the helm of the decision making process, whilst demonstrating expertise and sophistication."

The report also found that the turbulent year had stalled the growth of HNW investor numbers.

As of October 2015, there were 440,000 HNW investors controlling investable assets of more than $1 million, down from 445,000 in October 2014. HNWs' collective wealth now amounts to $1.55 trillion, down slightly from $1.57 trillion in the previous year.

"Direct shares and property make up two thirds of a typical Australian HNW investor's portfolio," Ms Guiamatsia said.

"Whilst the property market remained buoyant, the slump in commodity prices and share market volatility throughout the year weighed down on overall asset growth."

Further, the report shows HNWs are increasingly open to parting with their cash, but still struggle to identify good investment opportunities. On average, they deem 42 per cent of their cash reserves to be "excess", or ready to be invested once the volatility subsides, up from 37 per cent a year ago.

"HNW investors are keeping a sizeable part of their wealth in the most liquid form at the moment, despite uninspiring cash rates," Ms Guiamatsia said.

"Our research indicates this state of affairs could, however, evolve rather quickly under the right circumstances."

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