Change is good, but sometimes the old-fashioned way is just as good. That is one way to think about how financial advisors should be communicating with their clients, especially during these stressful financial times. But a combination of new and old communication methods is much more effective than relying on either just the new methods or just the old.
So, what does that mean? In Spectrem’s recent research with investors, The Corona Crash: What Financial Advisors Should Be Saying to Investors Now*, the largest percentage of investors indicated that they communicated with their advisors via telephone (56 percent) while 44 percent communicated with their advisor via email since the onset of the pandemic. Thus the old-fashioned telephone was the most popular communication tool. This is consistent with other research that Spectrem conducted in 2019 in which investors indicated that phone calls (57 percent) were the preferred method of contacting their advisor. Only 29 percent preferred email while 9 percent preferred face-to-face meetings. In that report, Communicating with Advisors and Providers*, it was interesting to note that regardless of age, telephone was the preferred communication method. Millennials, however, were the most likely to prefer face-to-face communications.
Since the market crash at the end of February, 21 percent of investors indicate that their financial advisor and his or her firm have offered webinars, 13 percent have provided videos, 6-8 percent of investors have been offered podcasts and more than a quarter (26 percent) have received other educational materials. More than half of investors who have received these digital communication materials or tools have taken advantage of them. Therefore, while telephone may be the preferred method of communication, investors who have access to other communication and education tools often take advantage of these tools.
Financial advisors must continue to communicate via telephone but should be aware of the popularity of other communication tools.
- Hard-copy newsletters: While hard-copy newsletters may be perceived as outdated, 39 percent of investors who receive hard-copy newsletters read them extensively and 55 percent read at least some of the newsletter.
- Electronic newsletters: Twenty-eight percent of investors read electronic newsletters extensively while two-thirds read or view the newsletters to some extent.
- Blogs: While not many financial advisors regularly blog to their investors, of those who do, 26 percent of the investors read the blog extensively while 58 percent read or view some of the blogs. Most importantly, 45 percent of Millennials and 38 percent of Gen Xers read the blogs extensively and 55 percent of Millennials and 50 percent of Gen Xers read the blogs to some extent. Clearly this is a critical way to communicate with younger investors.
- Videos: Financial advisors are often hesitant to produce videos, however, the effort may be worthwhile. Forty-one percent of investors will watch the video extensively while another 45 percent will watch it somewhat. Not surprisingly, these results are even higher for younger investors.
While financial advisors are doing a good job of communicating during the pandemic crisis, those communication efforts can’t drop off as the year passes. While the telephone is critical, start or keep using other methodologies as well! Newsletters, videos and blogs are becoming increasingly popular with investors and are worth the time and effort it may take to create this valuable content.
*Included in Spectrem’s research subscriptions.