Research from the Money Management Institute and Aon Finds A Financial Advisory Firm’s Digital Leadership is Critical to Both Client Satisfaction and Advisor Retention

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

NEW YORK, NY, November 17, 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 fourth report in this year’s four-part series, key performance indicators suggest that a smooth digital experience is critical to long-term client satisfaction and advisor retention.  

The study also finds that tools specifically related to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) are of particular interest among both clients and advisors as ESG continues to take a more prominent role in financial planning discussions.

“The pandemic has heightened the usage of many firm-provided digital tools both among clients and advisors working remotely. Those firms that are able to deliver seamlessly on this digital value proposition are enjoying positive outcomes as it relates to client and advisor confidence,” said Craig Pfeiffer, President and CEO of MMI. Peter Keuls, Global Head of Wealth Management at Aon, added: “It’s likely that this shift toward using digital tools to complement financial planning is permanent, and the winning firms will view digital leadership as a mainstream factor rather than a niche or novelty one.”

The study also found that:

  • Favorable views of a firm’s digital leadership are linked to a positive retirement outlook. Clients who feel their firm is a digital leader are more likely to feel ‘very confident’ (Top 2 Box %) about reaching their retirement goals (leader: 75% vs. laggard: 47%). They also report the value of financial advice has increased since the onset of the crisis (leader: 63% vs. laggard: 33%).
  • Digital leadership is strongly related to advisor retention. The day-to-day working environment impacts advisors’ longer-term perceptions of—and engagement with—their wealth management firm. Advisors who say their firm is a leader in digital technology are more than three times as likely to see a future with the firm than those who view the technology as lagging (leader: 68% vs. laggard: 20%).
  • Capabilities that foster greater collaboration need to be more accessible to both clients and advisors and offer users a genuine range of options at scale. For investors under age 45, it is very important to have access to a range of collaboration tools—ones that enable digital sharing of documents, facilitate virtual interactions with their advisor, and keep an online trail of communications. Advisors who reported a smooth and effective remote working experience over the lockdown period were also more likely to have positive perceptions of corporate leadership (84% Top 2 Box % vs. 25% Top 2 Box % satisfaction).
  • Better understanding of current and emerging ESG and value-driven needs is critical to fostering long-term client-advisor alignment. In line with last year’s data, younger clients feel strongly about working with a wealth manager who understands and shares their values. These investors want their advisor to help them reflect their values across their portfolios. Advisor satisfaction with ESG tools provided by their firm is middling and varies by demographic. For example, younger advisors are more likely to give the firm’s ESG tools top marks (under 45s: 62% vs. over 55s: 48%). Younger advisors are also more likely to be in tune with the desire of clients to work with a wealth management firm whose values are aligned with their own (under 45s: 54% vs. over 55s: 42%).

Commenting on these findings, Mr. Pfeiffer said: “Although frustrations with technology are inevitable, many clients and advisors see the advantages of conducting more activities remotely. Wealth management firms therefore need to build on this opportunity and ensure their digital proposition continues to hit the mark for advisors and clients.”

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 how these gaps affect 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. Follow MMI on LinkedIn.

About Aon: Aon plc (NYSE: AON) exists to shape decisions for the better — to protect and enrich the lives of people around the world. Our colleagues provide our clients in over 120 countries with advice and solutions that give them the clarity and confidence to make better decisions to protect and grow their business. 

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Kelly Caporale,
 Money Management Institute,, (646) 868-8514
Robert Elfinger, Aon,, (312) 381-0071