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Investor Survey: Uncovering the factors that lead to client satisfaction

Matt Sommer, Head of Janus Henderson’s Specialist Consulting Group, discusses findings from the firm’s latest Investor Survey that reveal what factors appear to influence clients’ satisfaction with their financial advisor relationship.

Matt Sommer, PhD, CFA, CFP®

Matt Sommer, PhD, CFA, CFP®

Head of Specialist Consulting Group

Dec 5, 2023
4 minute read

Key takeaways:

  • Our survey found that the majority of respondents who currently work with a financial professional are either very or somewhat satisfied with the relationship. However, many of the factors one might associate with client satisfaction do not appear to have an impact.
  • Notably, satisfaction levels were not associated with the client’s physical proximity to the advisor, nor did virtual vs. in-person meetings come into play.
  • The survey findings suggest that what influences client satisfaction most is the quality of the investor-advisor relational bond. Therefore, advisors may want to focus on deepening the personal connections they have with clients.

Earlier this year, Janus Henderson surveyed 1,000 U.S. adults with investments of at least $250,000 to better understand what is driving attitudes and behaviors in today’s challenging environment. Part of the survey focused on financial advisor engagement and levels of relationship satisfaction among clients.

Our findings were compelling: 65% of respondents who currently use a financial advisor are very satisfied and 33% are somewhat satisfied, indicating that the majority of investors who currently rely on professional advice feel they are being well served.

As a next step, we sought to explore the nuanced differences between “very” and “somewhat” satisfied investors, as industry research has repeatedly found that the distinction between these two sentiments can influence various measures of client loyalty – particularly referability.

One of my professors at Kansas State University used to always say: “What is not insignificant is significant.” In other words, exploring what initially does not appear to matter can often provide valuable insights.

Proximity and in-person meetings don’t necessarily make for satisfied clients

To that end, financial advisors may be interested in learning about the factors that did not influence how respondents answered the question regarding their level of satisfaction with their advisor relationship. First, our survey findings found no connection between investors’ physical proximity to their financial advisor and satisfaction levels.

Second, meeting with their advisor virtually versus in person appeared to have no impact on investors’ satisfaction levels. These findings suggest that, since the COVID-19 pandemic made video conferencing the dominant mode of communication, both advisors and clients appear to have grown accustomed to virtual engagements.

The many benefits of virtual meetings

While virtual engagements can never fully replace the intimacy of face-to-face interactions, this mode of communication offers several benefits. Clients can now meet with their advisor without having to deal with traffic and/or parking. Virtual meetings also make it easier for spouses, family members, and other service providers such as CPAs and attorneys to attend.

From the advisor’s perspective, virtual engagements allow for shorter and more frequent touchpoints. A rule of thumb learned during COVID was to take the amount of time an advisor would normally spend meeting with a client in person and divide it over X number of more frequent virtual meetings. For example, if an advisor would typically meet a client in person twice a year for an hour, they should consider having four quarterly 20- to 30-minute virtual meetings.

More frequent touchpoints may also increase referability because the client is more likely to remember that family member or friend they wish to introduce. And given our survey’s finding that meeting methods do not appear to influence client satisfaction, it seems making the shift to virtual can, in most cases, serve most investors well.

Another key finding was, when asked about services provided by their advisor, access to certain investments did not impact whether respondents were very or somewhat satisfied.

Relationship quality is the real key to client satisfaction

So, what were the factors that did matter? “My advisor cares about me as a person”, “My advisor provides me piece of mind”, “My advisor keeps my emotions in check”, and “My advisor engages with my CPA” were all positively associated with investors being “very satisfied” compared to “somewhat satisfied.” These findings suggest that the quality of the client-advisor relational bond, rather than proximity, mode of communication, or access to specific investments, is what today’s investors value the most.

With this research in mind, advisors may want to consider expanding their prospecting footprint, adjusting their virtual meetings to be shorter and more frequent, and deepening the personal bond with their clients.

If you need additional support shifting your business’s approach to serve these trending client needs, you may benefit from Janus Henderson’s new Modern Prospecting program. Developed by our Practice Management Consultants with over 25 years of experience, Modern Prospecting gives you the tools you need to build a strategic plan focused on growth. Reach out to your Janus Henderson Sales Director to learn more.

Explore the full results of Janus Henderson’s Investor Survey.


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