More investors seeking advice

In its latest client survey, Charles Schwab found just 26 percent of those interviewed feel they're better off financially now than a year ago, down from 44 percent who said they felt better off in the fourth quarter of 2010.

It also found only one-third of investors felt confident in their ability to make investment decisions.

This lack of confidence has fueled a demand for the company’s advisory programs, according to Charles Schwab. New advisory accounts grew 10 percent in 2011, and net assets in these fee-based solutions increased 33 percent last year. According to the survey, 77 percent of Schwab clients say they're most confident when receiving ongoing or periodic professional investment advice.

investors“Our approach to full-service, with solutions for everyone from active traders and do-it-yourselfers to those who want periodic advice and guidance or ongoing professional investment management, resonates with today’s investors,” said Walt Bettinger, Charles Schwab president and chief executive officer.

“Questions from clients about the market, their portfolios, and what the market environment means for them have been accelerating throughout the year, so naturally, the length and the depth of conversations we’re having with our clients are also on the rise,” said Bettinger. “Clients really appreciate the ability to call the shots when it comes to when, how and how much they need our guidance.”

Describing additional results of the investor survey, Bettinger noted that Schwab retail clients continue to prefer investing potential new assets (62 percent) over saving (29 percent), paying off debt (29 percent) or spending (13 percent). Only 20 percent of clients moved assets into cash in the fourth quarter and even fewer (13 percent) say they moved to the sidelines in response to recent market volatility.

The Charles Schwab Corporation provides financial services, with more than 300 offices and 8.6 million client brokerage accounts, 1.49 million corporate retirement plan participants, 780,000 banking accounts, and $1.68 trillion in client assets as of Dec. 31, 2011.

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