When a person sets an appointment with the dentist, they most often do not speak directly to the dentist to do so. They speak to a receptionist, or an associate of the dentist.
But when they have a severe toothache, they want to speak to the dentist and not some other person in the office.
Such is the case with investors and their personal advisors. There are times when they place a call in order to arrange a meeting and they are just fine making that arrangement with a member of the advisor’s office staff. But when they need to discuss a key investment decision, that investor is going to want to talk to the advisor and no one else.
In Spectrem’s new study Communicating with Advisors and Providers, investors with a net worth between $500,000 and $25 million were asked whether an investor would accept a return phone call or message from a team member rather than the advisor himself or herself. Several different scenarios were put forth, and investors indicated those occasions when a team member response would suffice.
“This research goes directly to one of the key components of an investor-advisor relationship, which is expectations,’’ said Spectrem president George H. Walper Jr. “This study indicates that many investors would switch advisors over poor communication than over poor investment results. Knowing when an investor expects to hear directly from the advisor rather than a team member is a noteworthy detail of the client relationship.”
Let’s start with the simplest proposition: An investor needs to set up a meeting with their advisor, and makes initial contact that requires a return phone call, e-mail or text. In that case, 52 percent of all investors would accept return communication from a team member rather than from the advisor.
More emphatically, that means that 48 percent of all investors expect their advisor to return communication regarding the simple act of setting up a time to meet. Operating an appointment calendar seems to be the kind of function perfect for an executive assistant, but almost half of all investors expect that act to be performed by the advisor.
(It is notable that Millennials are the most demanding in that area. Two-thirds of Millennials would expect their advisor to return the message about setting up an appointment).
Investors get more demanding as the tasks become more pointed. Seventy-five percent want to talk to their advisor about tax questions, and 84 percent want to speak to the advisor about stock market concerns.
The one tax half of investors are willing to accept from a team member is when the investor is looking for a distribution from an IRA or other form of investment. In those cases, more than 40 percent are willing to let a team member handle that process.
The important takeaway from this research is both understanding and handling the expectations of clients regarding communication. Being able to reassure clients that other members of the advisor’s firm or staff can handle some everyday functions of communication would make an advisor’s day easier, because returning client calls, e-mails and texts can take up a good portion of one’s day and time.
And time is money.
©2019 Spectrem Group