When your assets are rising along with the stock market, it's easy enough to ignore nagging unhappiness with a financial adviser. But in periods of financial stress—like now—simmering issues tend to come to the fore, whether they're tied to an adviser's performance or personality. Breaking up, however, can be hard to do.
Griping about advisers inevitably rises when a market bubble bursts, as it did in 2000. Back then, complaints to the National Association of Securities Dealers, now the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, peaked at 6,584 annual complaints. After calming down for a few years they've been trending up, with a 10.4% jump in 2006, the latest figures available. The number of advisers has also grown. The ranks of brokerage-affiliated advisers swelled 38% from 2005 to 2007, to 9,477. The number of registered investment advisers, who, unlike brokers, have a fiduciary duty to clients, rose 26%, to 10,801.