“We’re seeing that providers are taking a multifaceted approach to adviser communications, including increased interactions with advisers via social media and other newer mediums,” Meredith Rice, senior product director at Cogent, told PLANADVISER. “However, advisers still largely rely on, and expect the same frequency of communication, via emails and wholesaler visits.” Rice is author of the “Advisor Touchpoints 2013” study.
Providers communicate using newer media, such as webinars and social media, the report said, instead of depending solely on email and print mailings. On average, the report found, advisers receive 126 contacts per month from product manufacturers, up from the more than the 110 touches per month reported a year ago and the 103 contacts per month reported five years ago.
“The fact that adviser touches are at a five-year high, yet many providers still lag the optimal frequency, was somewhat surprising,” Rice said. “Providers need to focus on the issues and ideas that matter most to advisers in order to break through the clutter.”
Provider email and external wholesaler visits are generally regarded by advisers as the most effective modes of communication, according to the report, a finding similar to previous years. Preference for specific types of communication varies significantly by the type of communications advisers receive. This year’s report reveals that providers have significantly increased their reach across a variety of other mediums, including print mailings, webinar invitations, internal sales calls and social media.
According to Rice, advisers prefer different types of communication, depending on the message. Email is best for updates on performance or product changes. “Visits from wholesalers are ideal for learning about a new product and business building strategies,” she said. “Advisers have come to expect a multifaceted approach from providers. In fact, ETF [exchange-traded fund] providers are targeting advisers most frequently through social media.” These ancillary, often newer, mediums reinforce the overall relationship between adviser and provider.
Since raising the overall volume of touches, financial providers are getting closer to striking the right frequency advisers prefer, the report said, but companies must also ensure their messaging addresses adviser needs. “In terms of content, advisers are looking for thought leadership on investment strategy topics and market updates and commentary,” Rice said.
With thought leadership, providers face the arduous task of not only creating cutting-edge material, but also addressing the subjects that advisers view as timely and informative, Rice said. With so many providers clamoring for attention, there is an immediate need for providers to pinpoint the issues and ideas that matter most to advisers.
The annual Advisor Touchpoints study is based on a survey of more than 1,700 financial advisers in the U.S.
Cogent Research, a division of Market Strategies International, provides custom research, syndicated research products and evidence-based consulting to financial services organizations. More information about the report is on their website.