The markets have zoomed since the March lows, but many people have missed out by sitting out. According to a new survery, nearly half (49%) of people who identified themselves as "previous investors" said they either stopped or reduced investing in stocks and mutual funds.

The survey was conducted by Alix Partners LLP, a global business advisory company. Among other findings, 26% said they don't plan to invest in stocks and mutual funds for the next three years. And of those respondents with annual income of more than $75,000, 21% of previous investors said they've stopped investing cold turkey in these investment vehicles.

The upshot, according to the survey, is that this could could cause a structural contraction in the market for financial service firms and financial advisors.

"Investors have pulled out and don't know if they want to come back, suggesting a market at a turning point" said Pierre Buhler, co-lead of AlixPartners' FSI practice." "It remains to be seen which way these people will turn.  But given the amount of money sitting on the sidelines, there lies the opportunity.  A large proportion of investors, whether financially savvy or not, want professional advice. The role of the financial advisor is critical, and institutions that get this and develop the customer propositions to reverse the tide, will ultimately gain from the fundamental shift we're seeing."

The survey, "Americans' Investing Outlook Post-Financial Meltdown," was conducted in late August 2009, with 1,000 people in the U.S. across all key demographics including gender, age, location,  education, employment status, income level and ethnicity.