Thanks to digital technology and social media, there are myriad manners in which defined contribution plan participants can communicate with their financial advisors.
Spectrem’s DC Participants Insights Series report Communication, Digital Tools and Social Media determined how that communication occurs, beyond the use of a telephone, which for many people is going the way of the candle or oil lamp to light a room.
Looking beyond the use of the telephone, 62 percent of DC participants said they would like to be able to e-mail their advisor. That’s an interesting percentage because it is still relatively low. For many people, e-mail has moved past the telephone as a manner in which people communicate with others, especially when an immediate back-and-forth conversation is not required. The study indicates that 38 percent of DC participants DO NOT want to be able to e-mail their advisor.
Today, many “conversations" occur via texting, which has become a more familiar method of communication than e-mail for some, mostly younger, DC participants. Only 27 percent of DC plan participants said they want to be able to text their advisor, which again seems like a low percentage. Texting is not an unusual form of communication for even the Baby Boomers in the general population, and it is considered a faster way to get the attention of the message recipient.
Of course, the study does indicate that 26 percent of DC participants have no interest in either e-mail or texting as a method to communicate with their advisor. Either they are using their cellphone for its original intended purpose, as a telephone, or they are not communicating with their advisor at all.
There is definitely an age bias to the question of communicating with their advisor. Asked to rate their interest in texting their advisor on a 0-to-100 scale, Gen X investors rated it at 54.01, the highest level by age. Millennials rated that desire at 36.82, which seems low, although Millennials may not be all that interested yet in regular communication with their advisor, or they are using some form of social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) to get in touch with their financial professional.
The study also shows that female DC plan participants are more interested in texting their advisor (37.24) than males are (33.98).
Not all advisors are available via text, but it is likely either that they are older advisors or there might be some firm-wide decree against such communication. Otherwise, advisors would be wise to add that simple communication method to their list in order to ease conversations with interested DC plan participants.
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