Minority of clients want return to face-to-face advice

Minority of clients want return to face-to-face advice

A third (31 per cent) of advised individuals started using remote advice channels for the first time during the pandemic, and many have taken a liking to it, according to research from Abrdn. 

A survey of 1,000 advised investors in September found the coronavirus pandemic had seen a surge in individuals using remote advice options – such as video calls – for the first time and, perhaps unsurprisingly, the largest shift in behaviour was seen among those aged 66 and above. 

Of this age group, more than a quarter (28 per cent) reported using remote options for the first time, an increase from the 14 per cent that said they were already using remote options before the pandemic hit.

But Abrdn found many clients are not rushing back to exclusively face-to-face advice. 

Three-quarters (73 per cent) said they wanted some degree of remote advice from their adviser in the future, with only a fifth (20 per cent) wanting only face-to-face interaction and half (51%) wanting a mix of in-person and remote advice.

Many clients reported being happy to receive advice remotely, prompted by greater familiarity with digital tools like Teams and Zoom (57 per cent), and the convenience and efficiency it offers their lifestyles (47 per cent).

Noel Butwell, chief executive officer of adviser platforms at Abrdn, said: “The pandemic has accelerated a shift away from the traditional formats of giving and receiving advice.  

“While in the past face-to-face meetings were the norm, these findings show the majority of clients now want to use tools like video calls for consultations and will be seeking ongoing flexibility in how they interact with their adviser.”

Butwell added: “This is a win-win for everyone. Clients benefit from bespoke interactions that suit them and their schedule, while the speed and convenience can help advisers increase capacity and drive efficiencies by cutting down on factors like travel time and cost.”

Alongside a change in attitudes to remote advice, Abrdn’s research also found more than a third (35 per cent) of clients now contact their adviser more frequently than they did before March 2020.

When asked why, clients pointed to more complex financial needs (47 per cent) and a greater appreciation as to the value of advice (56 per cent).

Alex Chappell, investment manager at DB Wood, said: “We’ve seen our clients embrace the use of technology during the pandemic, and for a lot of them, that is how they want to continue to interact with us.

"Everyone has different needs and we have always offered an advice service that is flexible and adaptable to individual requirements.

“The upside to more online interaction means we have more time for our clients new and old.”

Butwell said the advice sector had “more than proved its worth” during the disruption of the pandemic, helping clients adapt to challenging circumstances.

“It’s incredibly encouraging to see this translate now into closer adviser – client relationships,” he said. 

“When it comes to building on these relationships, having support from technology will be key. The right platform technology can help advisers deliver insightful, high quality advice at every life stage, and provide tools to help simplify complex financial situations to help give clients peace of mind.”