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Advisers Fail to Please Investors, Survey Shows


If the results of the most recent Wealth Management Survey by the Phoenix Cos. of Hartford, Conn., is any indication of investors' satisfaction with their financial advisers, even advisers to the wealthy are doing a poor job of pleasing their clients. Fund companies looking to capture 401(k) rollovers should take note since a recent study by Cerulli Associates of Boston indicates that advice is the key to capturing 401(k) rollover assets.

Phoenix asked advisers and their high-net-worth clients to rate the advisers' performance. Clients said they did not blame their advisers for the poor performance of the market but felt that their advisers had lost touch with their individual savings goals, the survey showed.

Advisers worry that they are not performing adequately, with 31% of those surveyed surmising that their clients are either "very" or "extremely" dissatisfied with their service. Only 22% believe their clients are "extremely satisfied" with their service. As a result, over 50% of financial advisers say they are calling their clients more frequently and conducting more face-to-face meetings.

Despite greater outreach from their advisers, however, clients clearly are not that pleased with their advisers. Only 15% of their clients thought their advisers were doing more, while 13% thought their advisers were doing even less. The bulk of respondents, 70%, said they were receiving the same attention as a year ago.

Part of the problem is that advisers believe their clients are concerned only with their account balances, said Stephen Gresham, EVP and chief sales and marketing officer at Phoenix. "What most of the investors are telling you is that, while the markets may be down, they still have whatever goal they set out to accomplish. They still have these goals, yet no adviser is maintaining that focus," he said.

The disconnect between advisers and clients creates an opportunity for some advisers to steal business away from their competitors. "Advisers today have probably the greatest opportunity to pick up assets of affluent clients that I've seen in 22 years. Advisers who have the moxie to call up a prospect have a better chance for success than they've ever had," Gresham said.