Scottrade came out on top in the J.D. Power 2013 U.S. Self-Directed Investor Satisfaction Study released today.

Charles Schwab, Vanguard, T. Rowe Price, TD Ameritrade, E Trade Financial and Fidelity Investments followed close behind to fill the top ranks. The firms were judged by investors who make their own trades, on the basis of account information, account offerings, information resources, interaction, problem resolution and trading charges and fees.

Last year Schwab took top honors.

Overall satisfaction with investment firms declined during the last year, according to J.D. Power. Overall satisfaction decreased to 752 on a 1,000-point scale from 768 last year. Challenges with effective communication contributed to the decline in satisfaction, according to the survey of 3,619 investors.

Although investment firms are offering more online tools and information for self-directed investors, the additional content and capabilities may actually make it more difficult to access the functions investors are seeking if a Web site is not easy to navigate and communication is not clear, J.D. Power says.

The study shows the percentage of investors who say they completely understand their fee structure has dropped to 35 percent from 39 percent in 2012.

At the same time, the proportion of investment firms that have contacted investors two or more times in the past 12 months declined to 34 percent from 39 percent, “which impacts multiple aspects of a firm’s relationship with its investor,” J.D. Power says.

“Investment firms miss an important opportunity to keep self-directed investors informed about fees, investor tools and other product offerings by not communicating in the manner and frequency that investors prefer,” says Craig Martin, director of the wealth management practice at J.D. Power. “Firms need to know how their investors would like to be notified—whether it occurs via e-mail, phone or other means. It’s important to contact investors proactively and at the appropriate frequency based on investor preference.”