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Monthly Client Calls May Be Too Much: Study

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SEI released the second part of its 2015 Futurewealth research on Thursday, identifying how frequently high-net-worth investors want to communicate with their advisors and what they want to talk about.

The paper, “Hanging in the Balance: Conversations With the Futurewealthy,” is based on research conducted with Scorpio Partnership and NPG Wealth Management.

The first report from the Futurewealth series established that the “futurewealthy,” a group of more than 3,100 global investors with an average net worth of $2.7 million, have been working for more than 10 years with a single point of contact at their wealth management firm, and that they tend to be more satisfied than clients who have worked with multiple people throughout their time with the firm.

However, the report also found that clients believe the primary responsibility of that relationship manager is to improve their financial situation, and to provide financial education and market updates.

“Rather than simply having a friendly face at the company, the Futurewealthy are intent on having a relationship manager who can help them with their core objective: wealth creation,” the report says.

The latest release found that futurewealthy clients want to hear from their relationship manager 11 times a year, while limiting contact with other specialists to seven times a year. Although they value their relationship manager more highly, they still want access to experts: about half want either temporary or full access to experts, particularly in lending solutions, hedge funds and estate planning services.

As the proportion of the assets held at the firm increases, clients were more likely to want to focus their communication with their relation manager. Almost 60% of clients with at least 75% of their assets at the firm wanted to communicate with that person only, and 22% wanted periodic access to specialists. Of those who had less than a quarter of their assets at the firm, just 9% wanted to work with the relationship manager only. Twelve percent said they would prefer a digital platform, and 46% wanted periodic access to specialists.

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“Wealth relationship managers are successfully navigating client needs in an increasingly busy world. As relationships grow, clients will increasingly expect relationship managers to be a conduit to nearly all of their financial needs,” according to Al Chiaradonna, senior vice president of SEI Wealth Platform. He said in a statement, “Executing the right contact strategy while providing sound advice, targeted solutions and, when needed, additional expertise will help relationship managers strengthen and broaden these critical relationships.”

The report asked respondents to identify what made a good interaction with their relationship manager. Over half of highly invested respondents said reviewing progress was the mark of a good meeting, and 43% want their relationship manager to only discuss changes in the portfolio that are relevant. Just 42% said discussing new opportunities was the most important feature. Over half of those with between a quarter and half of their assets at the firm agreed.

Just 16% of highly invested respondents said it was important to develop a stronger personal relationship during meetings, a sentiment shared by other cohorts. Only 18% of respondents with less than half of the assets at the firm agreed.

“Relationship managers have unique insight into the Futurewealthy’s larger financial picture, positioning them to help uncover, build toward and track against client financial goals,” Kevin Crowe, head of solutions for SEI Advisor Network, said in a statement. “By helping to identify and then understand what clients are working toward, relationship managers are able to have more impactful discussions, present more relevant solutions and communicate in a more timely fashion.”

— Check out Top 4 Reasons Clients Leave Advisors on ThinkAdvisor.