More than 90% of independent registered investment advisors won new clients during the past six months, according to a semiannual study of RIAs by Schwab Institutional.

Among these new clients, 45% came from full-service brokers and 25% were former do-it-yourself investors.

Meanwhile, the market mayhem has obviously taken a toll on client portfolios. Using portfolio values as of September 1, 2008 as a base, 55% of advisors believe portfolios will take as long as three years to recover, and 35% believe it will take three to five years.

All in all, advisors remain cautious about economic conditions. Among other measures, 92% believe unemployment will rise, while 69% think the housing market will get worse.

That caution is reflected in advisors' stated interest in fixed-income securities--42% of those surveyed said they are more likely to invest in fixed income during the next half year, or more than double the rate from the July 2008 survey.

Advisors expect health care (50%), consumer staples (43%) and energy (37%) to be the best-performing assets during the next six months. And 79% of advisors say ETFs are their investment vehicles of choice, followed by REITs and high-yield bond funds.

More than 1,200 RIAs participated in the January survey.