Fidelity Investments, Bank of America Corp. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. manage wealth for the largest percentage of U.S. millionaires, according to a survey by Fidelity.
Of the 4.1 million U.S. households with at least $1 million of investable assets, 37% have at least one account with Fidelity, according to the third annual Fidelity Millionaire Outlook, which was released Wednesday. The Boston company would not specify the percentage of households that use Bank of America or Goldman Sachs, but it said they are second and third.
Gail Graham, an executive vice president for Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services, said consolidation in the financial services industry in the past year has left more millionaires using fewer providers, but most are remaining with their advisers.
"Some people are adding advisers as a way of getting a second opinion," Graham said in an interview Tuesday. "I think clients are assessing the environment, but not taking any action right now when it comes to changing advisers."
Millionaires are "beginning to invest more and are reassessing their portfolios," she said. "They are not passive, but they are not necessarily switching firms yet."
She said that some financial advisers are approaching wealthy individuals and saying, "Don't move all of your assets, but give me a try too."
Commercial and private banks remain important channels for delivering wealth management to wealthy individuals, Graham said. And now that some banks own wire houses, she said, "I fully expect banks will be an even more important channel."
The average respondent to the Fidelity survey, which was conducted in the first quarter, was 59 years old and had $3.5 million of investable assets and $306,000 in annual household income. But 46% of the group said they did not feel wealthy and were taking action to reassess and rebuild their wealth.
According to Fidelity (which on March 31 had $2.5 trillion of assets under custody, including $1.2 trillion under management), millionaires' household income has fallen 19% in the past year, their investable assets have fallen 19% and their real estate holdings have fallen 28%.
Fidelity polled more than 1,000 millionaire households nationally. It found that wealthy investors are interested in increasing their exposure to fixed-income products and equity products.
When asked which investment category promised the best returns for the next 12 months, 34% cited bonds, fixed income, certificates of deposit and money market funds, followed by individual stocks (28%).
About a third (32%) said they planned to increase their exposure to fixed income, bonds and CDs over the next 12 months, and 31% said they would invest more in individual stocks.
Forty-four percent said stocks promise the strongest returns for the next five years. Six percent cited bonds, CDs and money market funds.
Though 77% of respondents said the current economic environment is the worst they have experienced, Graham said millionaires are "very bullish" about how equities will perform in the next five years.
"I think if you look at the psyche of millionaires, they have all endured difficult markets," she said. "They have been through downturns before and they think that the stock market represents a big value right now."
Despite concerns about the economy, millionaires are upbeat about the prospects of an equity markets recovery in 2010, Fidelity found. Last year they were betting the economy would recover in 2009, Graham said.
They "are staying the course, staying calm and remaining optimistic," she said. "They are interested in talking about making additional investments in a variety of investment classes."