Advisers may have overestimated the standard of communication they have delivered to their clients since the onset of Covid-19.
Embark’s Investor Confidence Barometer, out today (February 25), detected an 11 per cent discrepancy between the views of advisers and their clients. While 82 per cent of advisers declared overall satisfaction with communication, 71 per cent of clients felt this way.
The biggest satisfaction gap was for online meetings, with which 86 per cent of advisers were satisfied compared to 64 per cent of clients.
However, virtual meetings still fared better than older channels of communication, with text messages securing 61 per cent customer satisfaction and letters only 59 per cent (versus 83 per cent and 78 per cent amongst advisers).
Overall, the switch to online seems to have worked for both sides, according to Embark.
Sara Wilson, head of platform proposition at Embark Group, said: "The move to virtual meetings, particularly in sectors where clients appreciate the value of an ongoing – if not necessarily frequent – two-way dialogue, is an exciting development.
"Up until last year, financial advisory services have been considered an in-person and on-paper industry, but advisers and their clients have very quickly shown this is no longer the case.
"Of interest is the forward-looking view: by and large, both clients and their advisers declare they are more than comfortable to continue having a mostly virtual relationship – not forgetting, of course, that not all clients are the same and that some will always prefer to meet in person.
"This suggests a focus on digital delivery would be a wise investment for advice firms.”
Ad hoc advice
When asked how clients valued different components of adviser services, ad-hoc advice was seen as the most valuable, with 85 per cent being in favour of the option.
Similarly, 84 per cent saw regular nudges and updates by email as valuable and 81 per cent valued financial health-checks when facing major life events.
Conversely, of the adviser service elements considered, face-to-face meetings (78 per cent) and regular reviews (77 per cent) were viewed as valuable by the lowest, albeit still sizeable, proportion of respondents.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, younger cohorts were most in favour of ad-hoc options.
Value of advice
Embark’s Investor Confidence Barometer also indicated the value of advice as it showed a clear hit to the confidence of those who have not sought financial advice.
Prior to the pandemic, 70 per cent of unadvised investors were confident they could deliver their financial plans without an adviser, dropping to 60 per cent since.
One in five unadvised investors is now not confident about delivering their financial plans, up from 8 per cent prior to the pandemic.
Amongst advised investors, more than a quarter (26 per cent) were much more confident that they will achieve their long-term financial objectives than before the Covid-19 pandemic began, with only 8 per cent feeling less confident.
The impact of advice on investor confidence was starkly exposed during the stock market crash between February and April 2020 when 43 per cent of investors without an adviser felt confident compared to 65 per cent with an adviser.