It’s that time of year again when Senior Market Advisor begins to compile and then publish its annual Senior Survey. We have a rough draft in the office that we’re analyzing before releasing it to you. An interesting finding in our initial analysis: trust is key.

In the course of the survey, which was conducted for Senior Market Advisor by the Boomer Project and its associated partner, the Southeastern Institute for Research, more than 300 adults aged 60 and over and with median assets of $445,000, were asked what they look for in an advisor.

The survey took that line of questioning a step further by inquiring about the regular sales and marketing methods of an advisor that frequently distances seniors from actually engaging with an advisor’s services. Our respondents had plenty of opinions on these subjects. Here are some of the highlights from those responses:

  • While a full 55 percent who do not already have an advisor say there’s absolutely nothing you could do to earn their business, the remainder were clear in stating the attributes they are looking for: trust, knowledge, loyalty, good listening skills, honesty and integrity. “I want someone who is interested in what I think and why I think that way; I want someone to honestly say, ‘I don’t know,’ if that is the case, but then contact me with the answers,” one senior said.
  • And with a web-savvy, baby boomer group of potential prospects out there, advisors have to be aware of the way they approach potential customers. “I’ve spent most of my life in sales and do not want to deal with a salesman face to face,” one respondent said. “If the benefits of the product or service can’t be adequately explained in a letter, I would not be interested in pursuing a conversation … if I was, I would contact him with any questions I had.”
  • “I’d prefer to get information from an advisor, and then I would have time to go through what is sent and evaluate it,” another added. “I can go through it at my own leisure, without the pressure of a sales call via phone or in person. I delete unsolicited e-mails and I don’t read internet financial ads.”
  • In another key finding, among those already with advisors, particularly seniors aged 60-69, many say they feel there’s a serious imbalance in their relationship. Nearly two-thirds say they really want their advisor to know them better, but just a third feel their advisor really does know them well. Seniors aged 70-plus tended to have a more positive view of the relationship, but still only 55 percent admitted their advisor knew them well. Clearly, for the business relationship to blossom, a personal relationship has to be fostered and developed.