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What Clients Really Think of Advisors, in 6 Charts

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Advisors are benefiting from the stock market’s performance, research finds. But sometimes in bull markets, clients chose to invest on their own, according to some industry insiders.

What are investor clients truly feeling today about their advisors and the value they provide?

That is the question probed recently by Qualtrics, which helps firms record and track data, which it calls X-data, that measures client, product/service, employee and brand experiences.

In the Financial Advisor Client Experience Report, released earlier this week, the group looks beyond how the advisory business has been responding to new technologies, shifting political sentiment and changing demographics by drilling down into the expectations and sentiment of investors. 

Though the wealth industry and advisors are evolving at a rapid pace, certain factors remain constant, Qualtrics’ research finds: “Trust and investment performance are paramount to the customer experience, and high fees are the No. 1 reason clients leave,” the authors of the report state.

For the study, the organization polled 300 wealth management clients about both what they expect from their advisor experiences and what they believe will drive their investing preferences in the near future.

Read on to see what clients really think of their advisors:

When it comes to client acquisition, trust and a good investment track record are the main reasons clients choose specific financial advisors, according to the clients recently surveyed by Qualtrics. (The firm conducted similar research on the experience of bank and credit-card clients.)

Millennial clients, though, place importance both on advisors’ investment track record and their level of social responsibility.

Poor track records and a low level of trust are also the top disappointments for investor clients, according to Qualtrics.

Clients who feel let down by their advisors, the group finds, say that dissatisfaction with advisors’ investment track records and trust are their primary reasons for feeling that way.

Moreover, millennial clients are the most disappointed demographic group when it comes to advisors’ failing to meet their expectations in terms of both investment track records and social responsibility.

Wealthy clients — defined as those with investment portfolios of over $300,000 — are most disappointed by advisors’ investment track records and poor personal service from their advisors. 

As for the overall client experience, most clients — 85% — are generally satisfied with their advisors and are not actively looking to switch to a new advisor.

Just 1% of wealth management clients indicate that they are considering leaving their current advisor, the Qualtrics’ research finds. 

On average, investor clients consult with their financial advisors almost every other month.

When asked how many times per year (on average) they speak with their advisor in person or by phone, investors say five times, according to Qualtrics.

The top reason given for face-to-face meetings with advisors are to discuss their investment profits and/or losses, 30%, and to review questions and/or concerns, 30%.

Tax issues, though, are also top of mind, with 29% of those surveyed indicating that they discuss these matter with their advisors.  

The majority of investor clients, 87%, believe their financial advisors devote time to instructing them on the best ways to invest with confidence.

This leaves room for the remaining clients, 13%, to see improvement in the educational performance of their FAs.

+Qualtrics’ research also reveals that most clients, 92%, believe their advisors’ advice is unbiased.

In addition, the majority, 89%, also say their advisors proactively look for ways to make their portfolios grow.

The survey also reveals that most clients seek out advisors who moderate risk.

The majority, 66%, state that they prefer to work with advisors who take a moderate-risk approach to investing, while 25% prefer advisors with a low-risk approach. Less than 10% want to work with advisors with a high-risk approach.

Furthermore, a very high percent of clients surveyed, 93%, are satisfied with the diversity of investment products offered by their financial advisors. 

In terms of client advocacy and retention, investors switching advisors say their motivations for doing so includes high fees, 14%; poor service, 10%; and a lack of personalized attention, 10%.

A lack of personalized attention, in fact, is the primary reason for millennial clients switching financial advisors in the past decade.

“We’ve all become hypersensitive to fees, especially if we think they are hidden fees,” he said. “It goes back to the innate desire to be treated fairly,” said Mike Maughan, head of global insights at Qualtrics, in a recent interview with CNBC about the survey. 

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