Advisors Still Need To Communicate More With Clients

Three Of Four Advised Clients Who Responded To A Recent YCharts Survey Said They Switched Or Considered Switching Advisors Last Year.
Kara Hughes, VP of Marketing, YCharts
Kara Hughes, VP of Marketing, YCharts
Jeff Berman, Contributing Editor & Reporter, Wealth Solutions Report
Jeff Berman, Contributing Editor & Reporter, Wealth Solutions Report

Good communication is the bedrock of any relationship and, based on a recent survey, advisors who don’t communicate enough with their clients risk losing them.

“Three in four advised clients left or [considered] leaving their advisor in 2023 and nearly 80% expressed a desire to be contacted at least every three months,” according to Kara Hughes, Vice President of Marketing at YCharts.

She was referring to the findings of a survey it conducted of almost 800 clients of advisors across the U.S. in February.

Asked what finding the survey uncovered that advisors would be most surprised to learn, Hughes said: “If you’re not communicating with your clients, it is likely influencing their decision to retain your services. Establishing a method for maintaining contact with clients and delivering valuable information is crucial.”

Clients are changing or contemplating changing advisors at a rate higher than ever before, according to investment research, analytics and client communications platform YCharts, which has over 10,000 users, including advisors, asset managers, individuals, educators and enterprises.

Last year, 75% of responding clients said they considered switching or switched advisors – a finding so “shocking” that YCharts said it ran the survey twice to validate the finding.

The frequency of advisor communication with their clients directly impacts client comprehension, which decreased since its last survey on advisor-client communication, a year ago, according to YCharts. Only 64% of client conversations with their advisors “resonate,” down from 70% in the prior survey, YCharts said.

Less communication leads to decreased client confidence in their financial plan, according to YCharts.

Among those clients who received infrequent/rare communication from their advisors, only 22% felt confident in their financial plans should the U.S. enter a recession, YCharts said.

Advisors also may not be meeting with their clients in the way their clients prefer, it said.

In-person meeting frequency is rebounding (49% met in person pre-pandemic, 28% in 2022 and 35% in 2023), according to YCharts. But only 5% said they were happy with how they’re currently meeting with their advisors, indicating “No change preferred” when asked, “How do YOU WISH you met with your financial advisor regarding your financial plan and progress toward your goals?”

Eight of 10 clients surveyed said they preferred to be contacted by their advisors at least every three months, YCharts said.

Although email followed by a phone call is still the most preferred method of contact, newsletter and video rose in preferences this year.

Significantly, higher net worth clients and clients aged 45-60 wanted even more communication than everyone else, according to YCharts.

Meanwhile, clients are actively managing significant portions of their finances on their own, the survey found. Eighty-seven percent of clients with more than $500,000 in assets under management (AUM) said they handled some investments independently. Almost 50% of that group personally managed 26-50% of their total invested assets, YCharts noted.

So what’s the best low-hanging fruit for advisors to act on that’s revealed by the latest survey?

“Advisors should establish an achievable client outreach cadence, leveraging various channels for touchpoints,” according to Hughes.

“It would be time-consuming to send a personal note to every client over any period of time, but setting goals like posting weekly insights on LinkedIn, bi-weekly email newsletters, monthly market update blogs, or quarterly personal outreach to high net worth clients can greatly enhance engagement and satisfaction levels,” she said. “Tools including YCharts aid advisors in delivering impactful communication.”

Jeff Berman, Contributing Editor & Reporter at Wealth Solutions Report, can be reached at jberman@wealthsolutionsreport.com.

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