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J.D. Power: DIY Investors’ Satisfaction 'Stagnates' Despite Rising Market

According to J.D. Power’s annual survey on self-directed investors, Fidelity took the top marks for DIY investors seeking guidance, with Charles Schwab following closely behind.

Satisfaction among self-directed investors remained static in an annual J.D. Power survey released today, indicating investors’ happiness with their self-directed tools wasn’t neatly tied with a strong stock market.

Overall satisfaction among “do-it-yourself” investors was at 708 on a 1,000-point scale in 2023, according to the J.D. Power 2024 U.S. Self-Directed Investor Satisfaction Study. Satisfaction was up a single point from 2023, but even with 2021. J.D. Power found satisfaction was highest among active traders while lower for investors using a buy-and-hold strategy.

“Trust is going to be a key variable for brokerage firms as they fight to attract growing ranks of millennial and Gen Z do-it-yourself investors,” J.D. Power Senior Director of Wealth Intelligence Kapil Vora said. “Right now, trust levels are flat, and until firms find ways to better connect with investors, they are going to struggle to forge the growing relationships they need to differentiate and add value beyond just digital prowess.”

J.D. Power’s survey on self-directed investors is in its 22nd year. The 2024 survey includes responses between January 2023 and January 2024 from 9,875 investors who made all investment decisions “without the counsel of a full-service dedicated financial advisor,” according to J.D. Power.

Fidelity took top marks among self-directed trading platforms, ranking highest for investors seeking guidance in making trading decisions at 708 points, with Charles Schwab directly behind it at 707. Vanguard and TD Ameritrade were third in a tie at 702 (though TD Ameritrade customers transitioned to Schwab in 2023). 

For DIY investors, the now-dormant TD Ameritrade claimed the top spot at 722, with Charles Schwab and Vanguard tying in second place at 717.

Though DIY investors’ satisfaction stagnated year-to-year, the satisfaction among self-directed investors seeking guidance from their chosen apps jumped 15 points from 685 to 700 between 2023 and 2024 (the overall satisfaction for this group was 692 in 2021 and 719 in 2022).

J.D. Power bifurcated respondents as either DIY investors who may still contact their firms for information without seeking help from a licensed financial advisor or self-directed investors “seeking guidance” who can access assistance from a licensed financial professional (often through a call center or centralized unit).

Craig Martin, an executive managing director and head of wealth and lending intelligence at J.D. Power, found the boost in satisfaction from these self-directed traders notable.

“The one area where we are seeing increased demand across all categories of investors—even those historically characterized as strictly DIY—is for some level of personalized guidance and support,” he said. “Right now, that guidance is missing at many firms."

JD Power survey of self-directed investors DIY investors

JD Power survey of self-directed investors investors seeking guidance

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