Daily life has changed for everyone in our industry since the COVID-19 pandemic, and financial advisors are no different—requiring asset managers to adapt to the challenges and jump on the opportunities.
We have chronicled some of these changes in previous research, yet we continue to find new ones—needs and preferences for advisors that will make the task of engaging and building strong relationships with them even more complex.
Our latest “What Advisors Do Online” research, conducted in association with Horsesmouth, identified seven key changes in advisors’ practices and behaviors that firms must address to succeed with advisors in the future. In general, those seven changes will require asset managers to do four things:
- Understand the access points to advisors.
- Personalize engagement even more.
- Be flexible in your approach.
- Optimize all interactions.
For example, one of the most important changes for firms to understand is that advisors have made significant changes in how they structure their work week.
In fact, the average advisor plans to work in the office just three days a week. Those other two days will largely be spent working from home (35%). Another 5% of advisors’ time will be spent working in other places, such as a vacation or second home, an additional office in another state/region, or at another commercial location near one of their homes.
As you’d expect, there are some variations in advisors with different business models. Independent RIAs plan to spend the least amount of time in their primary office (52.2%) while advisors who are employees of a broker-dealer plan to spend the most (67.3%).
Of course, these numbers are based on averages across all advisors surveyed. But most advisors don’t plan to work at all these locations. So we recalculated the averages for each location with only the advisors who plan to work there to get a truer sense of how much time the advisor may spend there.
In reality, the time allocated to these other locations will be even higher. Advisors who plan to work from home will spend nearly half their time (44.5%) there. Those with vacation homes and additional offices in other states or regions will spend nearly 20% of their time in each of those locations. And, as we’ll see shortly, knowing where they are makes a big difference in how firms can best engage them.
Another one of the key changes is that advisors now have 3 distinct sets of engagement preferences. Advisors’ preferences for interacting with asset management salespeople while working at the primary office for their practice haven’t changed that much over the last few years. About a third cited meeting with salespeople in person at their office as their top preference, followed by phone (18.9%) and virtual video meetings (17.0%).
The more significant news is that advisors will average one-third of their time working from home in the coming year — and very few, just 5.3%, want to meet in person with asset management salespeople while doing so. Interestingly, 28% of advisors prefer to interact with the salesperson in virtual meetings with video when working at home, 21% more than those who prefer phone calls, although the latter is less susceptible to interruptions from family, delivery drivers and Wi-Fi glitches.
Advisors are even more averse to engaging with asset management salespeople when they’re working at one of the three alternate locations we asked about:
- Vacation or second home in a different state or region (which may be in a different sales territory)
- Additional office(s) in another state or region
- Other commercial locations near either the advisor’s primary or secondary home, such as a coffee shop or co-working office
Their preferences varied among these three alternate locations as well.
Our "7 Changes Redefining the Keys to Successful Advisor Engagement" report discusses the implications of these changes for asset managers—in all, we identified seven key changes firms should be aware of—and what we believe the implications are for each of them.
Written by Tracy Needham
Sr. Business Research Analyst, Research, Analytics and Consulting