There is a trend in the financial advisor world in which thoroughly modern advisors complete all of their business electronically, without benefit of an official office. These advisors often conduct “meetings” with clients via video-chatting services like Skype or FaceTime.
Not good enough, many investors say.
Time and again in Spectrem’s latest study on investor-advisor communications, investors state their desire to have in-person meetings. Advisor Communication asks the question several different ways, and investors repeat their desire to be in the same physical space as their advisor as they discuss key elements of their investment relationship.
“There are advantages to the electronic communication mode for financial advisors, just as there are for professionals in other service modes,’’ said Spectrem president George H. Walper Jr. “But the personal nature of conversations between investors and advisors promotes the desire to have in-person meetings, and electronic communication does not yet feel secure and personal enough to replace an office visit for many investors.”
One of the best examples of an investor’s preference for in-person meetings comes from a question involving an advisor promoting a new financial or investment product. Asked to select the No. 1 way in which that information should be disseminated by advisors, 33 percent of investors replied “in an in-person meeting” and that was the most popular response. Slightly fewer investors said an “e-mail with an attached document” would be the best manner of introducing the product. Texting, video presentations on an advisor’s website or social media posts, webinars or video-chat conversations received very few nods.
For advisors who want to function without a home office, this response is problematic. For many investors, “in-person’’ means exactly that, and today’s modern advisor needs to have a location to conduct such meetings for investors who really want that personal touch.
Advisors may want to prove they can conduct business effectively without an in-person meeting, but investors feel strongly that in-person meetings produce significant results that are difficult to reproduce electronically.
On a 0-to-100 scale, investors rate the effectiveness of in-person meetings at 71.88, which is a very high rating on that scale.
Asked to compile a percentage basis list of the topics covered in face-to-face meetings, investors on average lead with “a review of financial plans and objectives” (32.88 percent), followed by “reviewing investment portfolio and discuss performance” (26.67 percent), and “current economic and stock market conditions” (12.28 percent).
Can those topics be covered effectively via video-chat, or in phone conversations? Many investors are likely to say “No.”
Top Takeaways for Advisors
Is this topic all a matter of perception? Do investors, probably older ones, simply not trust electronic communication enough to allow it to supplant in-person conversations? Or is it true that a face-to-face meeting (which does not include video-chatting as an example) produce more complete communication and thus better results?
There may be a day when in-person meetings are no longer required to conduct business of any sort. We may eventually experience all of life without ever leaving our home pods. But that day is not yet here, and advisors who wish to serve many different types of clients need to understand that some investors simply want to get together from time to time.
©2018 Spectrem Group