Investors who sought guidance from an advisor during the 2008 financial crisis overwhelmingly found that advice to be more helpful than any they got from another source.

Thirty percent of respondents surveyed by Fidelity got help from a financial advisor during the crisis, and 90 percent of those investors rated that guidance as helpful, topping advice from any other source. As a result of the financial downturn, nearly one-quarter (23%) of respondents rely more on a financial professional now than they did in the past, according to Fidelity's Five Years Later survey.

“We have, for some time, been talking about a bull market for financial advice. To have almost 25 percent of respondents say they are going to use a financial professional more in the future than they have in the past is proof positive,” says Scott Couto, president of Fidelity Financial Advisor Solutions.

The study, released today, reveals that 47 percent of respondents who worked with an advisor felt better prepared financially before the crisis, compared with 37 percent who did not use one. After the crisis, 66 percent felt better prepared, versus 53 percent of those who did not use one.

Five years later, the majority of respondents say they have altered their financial mindset and investment behavior. Fifty-six percent of investors believe that it’s their responsibility to prepare for retirement. Fidelity says this reflects an increasing shift in individuals’ recognition that they must take greater interest and control of their personal finances. “At Fidelity, we’ve seen about a 15 percent increase in individuals' usage of online tools, which is significant,” says Couto. “It says the investor is becoming more engaged; they’re taking more responsibility for their financial future, including, but not limited to, retirement.”

According to Fidelity, actions investors have taken to better prepare for their futures include:

• Forty-two percent have increased their contribution rates to their 401(k), IRA or health savings account, and more than half (55 percent) agree that they feel better prepared for retirement than before the crisis. 

• Forty-nine percent said they have decreased their personal debt, and nearly three-quarters (72 percent) say they have less personal debt now than they did before 2008.

• Forty-two percent have increased their emergency fund, and 80 percent of those respondents say they have a better understanding of their finances now than before the crisis hit.   

• Sixty-four percent are more interested now, than before the crisis, in guaranteed income products, such as annuities, to provide a steady cash flow in retirement.