Survey Highlights Client Confidence And Referral Opportunities

Absolute Engagement And Investments & Wealth Institute’s Annual Client Survey Identifies Areas For Improvement In Satisfaction, Client Confidence And Referrals

James Miller, Contributing Editor & Research Analyst, Wealth Solutions Report

Toronto-based Absolute Engagement released the results of its 2023 investor research survey, which it developed with the Investments & Wealth Institute. The survey collected data between April 20 and May 1 from 1,000 U.S.-based respondents who are clients of financial advisors, regarding the state of advisor-client relationships.

While the survey indicated that a strong majority of clients, at 92%, are very likely or somewhat likely to continue with their current financial advisors, the data indicated room for improvement.

Absolute Engagement’s Founder and CEO, Julie Littlechild, said, “Traditional metrics have been the cornerstone of advisor performance evaluation for decades, but they are based on lagging indicators. To deepen relationships and improve advice engagement, our industry must prioritize understanding and supporting client needs as the true measure of success. Advisors who prioritize supporting clients’ life goals, not just financial goals, are poised to thrive in the coming decade.”

The survey identified gaps in client satisfaction in several areas. Eighty-two percent of clients say that feeling financially secure is important, but only 52% feel financially secure. Regarding financial goals, 51% of clients feel they’re in control, although 75% feel that being in control of financial goals is important. Additionally, only 53% are confident they can reach their financial goals, while 74% believe this is important.

Julie Littlechild, Founder & CEO, Absolute Engagement

Weakness In Client Confidence

Further examining client confidence, the survey’s Self-Confidence Index showed that 31% of clients have low to moderate confidence across a range of areas, largely driven by market performance and risk concerns.

Littlechild said, “Client self-confidence is an insidious form of risk because it is tied to satisfaction, loyalty and Net Promoter Score.”

According to the survey, advisors can improve client confidence by focusing on areas beyond finances, since 43% of respondents say that the greatest benefit of working with an advisor is gaining clarity on what they want in retirement, but approximately only half of clients say that their advisor helped them strategize for nonfinancial goals.

“The research makes it clear that the advisors will need to deliver an experience that goes beyond providing good – or even great – service,” said the Investments & Wealth Institute’s Chief Revenue Officer, Tim Whiting. “We believe that means getting inside the heads of clients to understand their true needs, delivering the services that respond to those needs and securing the certifications and designations to do so credibly.”

Referral Opportunities

Tim Whiting, Chief Revenue Officer, Investments & Wealth Institute

The survey indicated that 93% of clients are satisfied with their advisor and 86% feel comfortable referring, but only 35% actually refer their advisor. Younger clients and those with higher financial literacy are more likely to make recommendations. In addition, clients who share their concerns with advisors make more referrals, which creates opportunities for advisors who deepen client relationships, according to the press release.

“While 35% is a very high number, the reality is that advisors typically report receiving referrals from fewer than 5% of their clients,” Littlechild said. “This highlights another gap and an opportunity to translate referrals into introductions.”

In March, Absolute Engagement launched its Engagement Engine, designed to help advisors improve their prospect and client experiences by treating feelings, needs and priorities as data points in order to provide advisors with insight ahead of relationship-building conversations.

James Miller, Contributing Editor and Research Analyst at Wealth Solutions Report, can be reached at

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