Overall, clients are satisfied with their advisory relationships, and clients’ most important concerns have less to do with the level of service provided than with their own level of confidence in their financial future.
These are among the highlights of research conducted by Absolute Engagement and Investments & Wealth Institute to understand the needs and concerns of High Net Worth Investors (HNWs) and help financial advisors define and evolve an exceptional client experience.
If, overall, clients are satisfied with their consulting relationships, their loyalty is being tested. Additionally, clients are concerned about personal or family health, market uncertainty, helping their children make good financial decisions, their children’s job security, and caring for aging parents. .
Moreover, the pandemic is changing the way they think about the future. A minority of respondents indicated that they had been impacted financially by the pandemic, but two-thirds of respondents indicated that they had changed their outlook on the future.
The customer experience must evolve, underlines the survey. Advisors will need to invest more time in client assessments, with a quarter of clients seeking more contacts in the future.
Additionally, with almost as many respondents either prefer in-person reviews as they prefer virtual reviews or have no preference, respondents are clear that the quality of a virtual review can be as high as in-person (and sometimes higher), and customization will become more important in the future to meet the wide range of customer needs and interests.
The foundation of the exceptional experience has not changed, the survey points out. Respondents continue to rank trust, expertise and ethics among the most important attributes of the consulting relationship, and several voluntary designations continue to be important for demonstrating expertise and standing out in a crowded marketplace.
While overall loyalty is high, with 91% of clients saying they’re somewhat or very likely to continue working with their advisor, around a third of clients say they’ve considered making a switch. This is an increase of 1% from 2020 and 11% from 2019, the survey pointed out.
The impact of the pandemic
For 45% of respondents, the pandemic had little financial impact. Respondents were more likely to say the pandemic had impacted their financial future in ways that weren’t purely financial. Two-thirds of respondents indicated that they had changed the way they view the future.
The survey includes a large sample of high net worth investors, many of whom are retired, said Julie Littlechild, founder and CEO of Absolute Engagement, explaining some reasons for this low level of financial impact on respondents to the investigation.
“If you segment by age, that’s another story. 20% of respondents under 45 say there has been no impact and 63% of those between 65 and 74 say there has been no impact,” he said. she declared. “Because this is a high net worth sample and crosses different sectors, we see that some have been impacted negatively and others positively.”
Customer preferences and interests
Going forward, respondents said they would like to meet with their advisor, on average, 2.5 times per year. Expectations were strongly influenced by both age and wealth, with younger clients and wealthier clients seeking more frequent reviews.
For a quarter of respondents, the number of reviews they expect in the future is higher than they would have liked in the past. This, of course, means advisors will have to increase the time they spend on customer reviews, the survey points out.
Respondents were more likely to say their level of interest in the following issues had increased since the start of the pandemic: changes to tax laws as a result of a new administration, and health and wellness.
And while respondents’ topics of interest have changed, their preferences for how educational content is delivered have also changed. Respondents were more likely to choose formats that could be described as “accessible on demand,” such as access to articles or other resources, according to the survey.
Exceptional customer experience
While advisors create and scale exceptional customer experiences, Littlechild’s advice is pretty simple for them: when you ask customers what’s most important, they tend to focus on things like trust, knowledge and ethics, she said. “We consider them fundamental,” she added.
“An exceptional experience, however, goes beyond the basics and requires advisors to demonstrate strong leadership. The extent to which advisors can focus on key customer concerns and have difficult conversations is critical. We know that 82% of customers say the pandemic has impacted how they view their future. The best advisors will look at that and focus on changing those needs. »
In the survey, Investments & Wealth Institute and Absolute Engagement collected feedback from 750 high net worth investors. The data was collected via online surveys in April and May 2021.
Ayo Mseka has over 30 years of experience reporting on the financial services industry. She was previously editor of NAIFA’s Advisor Today magazine. Contact her at [email protected]