The J.D. Power 2017 U.S. Self-Directed Investor Study finds that a broker-dealer’s reputation and trading fees – preferably lower – are the two most important factors for investors deciding where to put their money. Nonetheless, firms need to “deliver value” or clients will move their money to even lower cost, or in some cases no-cost, options at rivals.
The latest self-directed investor survey, released Thursday, finds that the average level of customer satisfaction improved slightly from a year ago, to 779 out of 1,000. About half the firms received higher scores than last year, particularly those in the top three positions. Other firms saw their scores decline from a year ago.
“A confluence of factors including changes to technology, industry regulation, investor preferences and the competitive landscape is disrupting the industry and has created the conditions for a ‘money in motion’ event for self-directed investment providers,” said Mike Foy, senior director of the wealth management practice at J.D. Power. “As transaction fees continue to approach zero, it’s more critical than ever that firms differentiate by delivering a superior client experience, and that starts with successful onboarding.”
This January, more than 4,600 self-directed investors participated in the poll, which is in its 16th year. The survey measures performance based on client interaction, account information, trading charges and fees, product offerings, information resources, and problem resolution.
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“One trend we observe is that more traditional retail banks have been getting into this space over the past few years, like Citi, U.S. Bank and Chase,” Foy explained. “While they are not yet delivering experience that others — like the [survey] leaders — are offering, they do recognize that, as the wirehouses began to recognize a decade or so ago, … they want to serve more affluent clients.”
Despite lower overall satisfaction scores, these financial institutions seem “poised for growth in this space, especially with millennials, who indicate a greater openness to consolidate financial products and services with a single institution,” J.D. Power says.