At first blush, a recent survey by Cogent Research might sound a bit deflating. The study gauges the level of confidence investors have in their primary financial advisor. Only 40% said they were highly confident. Obviously, that’s less than half, which doesn’t even qualify as mediocre.

But a closer look reveals a different conclusion. As Cogent’s senior project director, Meredith Lloyd Rice, explains, investors were asked to rate their advisors on a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 being the most confident. And 40% of the respondents gave their advisors either a 9 or a 10. So in that light, the number looks more impressive.

Furthermore, 40% for 2012 is four percentage points greater (or 11% greater), than the number of folks who gave their advisors a 9 or 10 rating in 2011. “That’s a statistically significant increase,” Lloyd Rice says, particularly given the survey size of more than 4,000 people with at least $100,000 in investable assets (including retirement plans, but excluding real estate).

Those who responded to the survey were broken down by generational brackets ranging from Gen Y to the so-called “Silent Generation” that includes people born between 1925 and 1945. The latter group had the highest confidence rating, with 54% giving their advisors either a 9 or a 10. There are a couple of reasons for that, Lloyd Rice says.

First, this group tends to have more assets, which adds to their overall confidence in their financial situation and, by extension, in the people handling their money. Second, older investors likely have had longer relationships with their advisors and have been through market cycles with them over the years. “Whereas with younger advisors,” Lloyd Rice says, “going through market volatility is still relatively new to them.”

Cogent’s survey also spotlighted the importance of relationships in which advisors offer their clients retirement planning and other advice. Online brokerages had the lowest confidence rating among the six channels included in the survey. “There tends to be a different relationship in that channel versus the more full-service firms,” Lloyd Rice says.