Adapting to Client Changes: IWI's 2022 Research Insights for Advisors

Posted by Allison Edmondson, Director of Communications

Oct 4, 2022 3:00:00 PM

Denver, CO – October 4, 2022, 2023  — The Investments & Wealth Institute’s 2022 Client Research shows that investor preferences, expectations about the future and engagement styles have changed and continue to change. The study, conducted by Absolute Engagement, has been published in partnership with the Institute annually since 2017 and asks clients to tell us what they need, want and expect from their advisors. Responses are analyzed to uncover how advisors can best adjust to the changing landscape.
While client relationships remain strong year over year, almost one-third of clients indicate they have considered changing advisors, a risk that increases to approximately 65 percent of clients under the age of 44. Additionally, client mindsets and preferences are evolving, impacting the ways advisors optimally engage clients and deliver advisory services.

Notable in the 2022 report is how much age may impact client preferences—especially for clients ages 45–54, a group dubbed by Absolute Engagement as “the juggle generation.” Clients in this age group, many of whom are juggling obligations to their children as well as their parents, are noticeably lower on key relationship metrics including net promoter score, satisfaction and loyalty.

The answer to why this client segment feels so differently about their advisory relationships may have more to do with how clients in the juggle generation are feeling about their futures, because the period since March 2020 has been particularly trying for many of them. Specifically, clients in this age cohort are more likely to say they are concerned with:

  • Ensuring their families are taken care of when they pass away

  • Personal or family health

  • Managing personal or financial stress

  • Ensuring their children make good financial decisions

  • Having enough money to retire comfortably

  • Their ability to retire when they had planned

  • Having enough time to spend with their families

“It’s no secret that client preferences and mindsets have changed as a result of demographic shifts as well as the uncertainties we’ve experienced over the past two years,” said Sean R. Walters, CAE®, chief executive officer, Investments & Wealth Institute. “Sixty-two percent of clients report having been impacted negatively by the past two years in ways that go beyond finances. This research reinforces that advisors also need to adapt to deliver an exceptional and engaging client experience.”

Clients say they want to work with advisors who are trustworthy, knowledgeable, ethical and responsive, foundational aspects of the advisory relationship that have remained consistent year over year. Designations, like the Institute’s Certified Investment Management Analyst® (CIMA®), Certified Private Wealth Advisor® (CPWA®)  and Retirement Management Advisor® (RMA®) certifications, are an important part of communicating and highlighting an advisor’s expertise to clients. Nearly eight out of 10 clients agreed that “the designations held by my advisor are an important way to demonstrate technical expertise.” More telling is that 83 percent of clients said that designations would be important in making a decision to work with a new advisor.
The research concludes that advisors can communicate about and reinforce the value of designations with clients as a way to demonstrate their advisory expertise. They should also make the effort to understand their clients’ preferences and how they are feeling about their financial futures in order to evolve and improve the client experience.

The study was conducted in partnership with Absolute Engagement. Input was gathered from 1,000 high-net-worth investors via an online survey between March and April 2022. The focus of the research is understanding the needs and concerns of high-net-worth investors (with household investable assets of at least $500,000). Women account for 39 percent of the respondents and men account for 61 percent. All respondents work with a financial advisor and make or contribute to the financial decisions in the household.


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