NEW YORK, NY, September 7, 2021 – The Money Management Institute (MMI) and Aon have released new research from the second tranche of their Advisory Solutions: Expectations and Experiences series. In findings from the second report in this year’s four-part series, client satisfaction was strongly linked to a firm’s digital capabilities during the challenging COVID-19 pandemic environment. The overall satisfaction of investors surveyed between January and February 2021 with their financial advisor or team stands at 68% (9 or 10 on a 10-point scale) compared with 69% in the previous year.
Client satisfaction was 84% among those who view their firm as a digital leader, falling to 70% for clients who view their firm’s digital capabilities as in line with the rest of the industry, and 38% for those who view their firm as a laggard in the digital space. Satisfaction results by investor age and gender remained relatively steady as well. Advisors received strong marks in terms of client satisfaction across all the key touchpoints in the wealth management experience, including answering questions (77%), keeping clients informed (72%), and communicating about the market (71%).
“Despite the extraordinary circumstances that forced advisors to pivot to primarily virtual interactions, the industry was able to continue to deliver high levels of service to investors,” Craig Pfeiffer, President and CEO of MMI. Peter Keuls, Global Head of Wealth Management at Aon, added: “Moving forward, it’s tempting to assume that virtual interactions are the new standard as we manage new forms of volatility, but clients and advisors are telling us that choice of channel is critical across the various activities involved in the financial planning and account management process.”
The study also found that:
- Although there has been a clear shift in favor of digital interaction, preferences still vary across specific activities. Clients show the strongest preference for digital channels for day-to-day tasks such as asking questions about their account (51%) while just 34% of clients indicate a preference for digital interaction to develop or refresh their financial plan.
- Advisors underestimate the importance of in-person interactions when it comes to planning and performance. Advisor perception of client preference for in-person planning is 37% compared to clients’ actual preference at 43%. For discussions around investment performance, advisor perception is 30% compared to actual client preference at 36%.
- Digital tools are also in high demand. The most important tools to clients moving forward are performance reporting/tracking toward financial goals; tools that enable easy communication with the advisor; and financial planning tools that forecast retirement income. Commenting on these findings, Pfeiffer said: “One of the clear messages we see from this research is that it’s critically important to continue to invest in digital infrastructure for both clients and advisors. But, at the same time, the advisor remains the straw that stirs the drink, and human touch is still paramount in the financial planning process.”
About Advisory Solutions: Expectations and Experiences: Now in its second year, Expectations and Experiences is a four-part series, based on a proprietary research program sponsored by the Money Management Institute (MMI) in association with Aon, that explores the gaps that have emerged between client expectations for investment advice and solutions and firm delivery, and why these gaps are undermining client satisfaction as well as business performance.
About the Money Management Institute (MMI): Established in 1997, the Money Management Institute (MMI) is the industry association representing financial services firms that provide financial advice and investment advisory solutions to investors. Driven by our promise of increasing connections, knowledge, and growth for our members, MMI is dedicated to fostering professional relationships, sharing experiences, and expanding the industry’s influence through advocacy and education. MMI offers premier professional development programs, specialized curriculums, and facilitates peer-to-peer connections through our communities and conferences. As part of MMI’s longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion, the Gateway Foundation provides clear pathways to entry and career advancement in the financial services industry for historically excluded and underrepresented groups. MMI member firms include wealth manager, asset manager and solutions provider firms of all sizes and professionals representing all functional areas.
About Aon: Aon plc (NYSE: AON) is a leading global professional services firm providing a broad range of risk, retirement, and health solutions. Our 50,000 colleagues in 120 countries empower results for clients by using proprietary data and analytics to deliver insights that reduce volatility and improve performance.