Embark Investor Confidence Barometer

The Truth About Virtual Client Meetings

  1. More than 70% of clients happy with adviser’s communications during Covid

  2. Advisers overestimating quality of contact – especially virtual meetings

  3. Client comfort without face-to-face high at almost 70%

The disruption brought on by Covid-19 posed a challenge to advisers to maintain trust and confidence among clients.

As the number of in-person meetings dwindled and then stopped altogether, advisers turned to more digital ways of keeping in touch.

We examined how satisfied advisers were with using several types of communication during the crisis, compared with their client base.

Though most clients were satisfied with their advisers’ communication, there was a disconnect between their satisfaction levels and those of their adviser.

The most notable gaps in satisfaction levels were for online meetings and text message communications.

A total of 86% of advisers were either very or somewhat satisfied with how online meetings were going compared with only 64% of clients. With text message communications, 83% of advisers were satisfied compared with 61% of clients.

This may suggest advisers have not finessed their non-face-to-face communications with clients as well as they believe, particularly with virtual meetings.

Interestingly, however, the least favoured channels among clients were not the newest, with text message securing 61% client satisfaction and letter just 59% – reinforcing for advisers the importance of maintaining a personal, two-way dialogue in which clients feel listened to.

Adviser & client satisfaction with Covid communications

All results combine ‘very satisfied’ and ‘somewhat satisfied’ and are based on 250 responses from each group

The future is virtual

Clients were asked whether they remained comfortable with the advice they are receiving without face-to-face meetings.

Few clients expressed concern at the lack of in-person meetings, with only 12% indicating they were slightly less, or much less, comfortable.

Conversely, 67% of clients said they were either slightly more or much more comfortable, reinforcing clients’ ease with digital and remote communications.

Advisers too were content with their ability to effectively advise their clients without the need for face-to-face. A total of 73% of advisers said they were either very confident or somewhat confident in doing so, with only 3% indicating they were less confident.

An Expert’s View

“Is it fair to claim most businesses and employees, as well as clients, were largely oblivious to the benefits of online conferencing before the Covid-19 pandemic?

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 has 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).

So far it appears clients are a little less satisfied than their advisers with online meetings, though this may not be a surprise given how new this will have been to many. But it does suggest a focus on digital delivery would be a wise investment for advice firms.”

Sara Wilson,
Former Head of Platform Proposition, Embark Group

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