The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated a trend toward more digital engagement between asset managers and financial advisors, further shrinking the ranks of wholesalers, according to a study released Thursday by J.D. Power.
The study found that asset managers who build strong digital relationships with advisors receive significantly higher investment inflows from those advisors.
BlackRock, American Funds parent Capital Group, J.P. Morgan Asset Management and MFS earned the highest scores from advisors across multiple digital experiences. They also have the highest levels of intent to invest among advisors.
“For asset managers in the current marketplace, forging and maintaining successful relationships with advisors is increasingly about effective digital engagement,” Mike Foy, J.D. Power’s senior director of wealth and lending intelligence, said in a statement.
That has been true for some time, Foy said, but has become critical as wholesalers have been unable to meet face to face and advisors have cited higher levels of stress and increased workloads.
The study, fielded from May through July, evaluated how financial advisors digitally interact with asset management firms and how that digital experience affects their brand impressions and future intentions to invest client assets with those firms. The study received 26,174 brand evaluations from 1,330 financial advisor respondents.
Among the different types of digital interactions, webinars dominate in advisor engagement. Fifty-six percent of advisors said they had attended their primary asset management firm’s webinar in the past six months, up from 34% in 2019.
Use of email and websites also experienced year-over-year growth, as did social media.
The study found that a company’s commitment to environmental, social and governance issues was a highly significant driver of asset manager reputation, with 55% of advisors saying they would likely invest more in brands they identified as committed to ESG.
At the same time, advisors perceived only 15% of brands with which they currently worked as genuinely committed to this issue.
See the gallery to find out how advisors in the J.D. Power 2020 Advisor Digital Engagement Study rated top-tier firms in 10 categories.
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