Virtually all financial advisors engage with websites and web support from product providers and distributors — firms like American Funds, Vanguard and Morningstar — and the types of web-based capabilities and content available to them are increasingly diverse.
A new report from Practical Perspectives, an independent consultant and research firm, says that broker-dealers, asset managers, insurance companies, platform providers and other service firms now face the challenge of creating and delivering web capabilities that meet advisors’ rising expectations and requirements.
Practical Perspectives based its analysis on an online survey conducted in April with some 750 registered investment advisors, wirehouse and regional brokers, independent brokers and financial planners.
The findings showed that 57% of advisors perceived access to websites as very important and 34% somewhat important. Advisors expressed high regard for web support relative to other capabilities that providers and platforms offer.
“Advisors find benefit in connecting to websites from product providers and other sources and increasingly rely on web support for key functions such as gathering up-to-date product information and research, performing client service, and using tools such as calculators or illustration software,” Howard Schneider, president of Practical Perspectives and author of the report, said in a statement.
According to the survey, most advisors said websites enhanced their overall impression of a provider, influenced their use of products and promoted greater loyalty to a particular provider.
The use of web support was nearly universal among advisors. Sixty percent said they interacted most frequently with their broker-dealer or custodian website, while 41% were frequent users of product provider sites.
Although advisors were generally satisfied with product provider websites, the results showed that opportunity exists for improvement. For example, 27% of advisors expressed dissatisfaction with usability or ease of navigation.
“Many advisors still encounter websites that are difficult to navigate, have content that is not updated frequently enough or which provide information that is too generic or promotional,” Schneider said.