Pandemic reshapes how clients engage with their financial adviser for the long term

  • More than half (56%) of advised individuals are now happier to use remote advice channels – such as video calls – than they were before the first lockdown
  • Nearly three-quarters (73%) of clients want some degree of remote advice from their adviser in the future, with just a fifth (20%) wanting only face-to-face interaction
  • Nearly a third (31%) of advised individuals started using remote advice channels for the first time during the pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has prompted a surge in individuals using remote options – such as video calls – for the first time to speak to their financial adviser, and has re-shaped how clients expect to seek advice in the future, according to new research by abrdn.

Nearly a third (31%) of the 1,000 advised individuals polled by abrdn said they used remote advice channels for the first time after the country first entered lockdown in March 2020.

The largest shift in pre and post-lockdown behaviour was seen among those aged 66 and above. Here, more than a quarter (28%) reported using remote options for the first time – a 200% increase from the 14% that said they were already using remote options before the pandemic hit.

While the use of remote options like video calls is likely to have been driven by the constraints of lockdown, clients are now more receptive to remote advice channels and are seeking ongoing flexibility in how they engage with their adviser.

More than half of advised individuals (56%) are now happier than they were before the first lockdown to receive advice remotely, prompted by greater familiarity with digital tools like Teams and Zoom (57%), and the convenience and efficiency it offers their lifestyles (47%).

And, going forward, nearly three-quarters of clients (73%) want an element of remote advice from the adviser. More than half (51%) want a mix of in-person and remote advice, with just a fifth (20%) wanting only face-to-face interaction.

Noel Butwell, CEO, 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.

“Advisers are no strangers to tailoring their approaches to meet clients’ specific needs, and we know the advisers we work with are continuing to offer a remote advice service for clients who want it.

“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.

“Ultimately, it can even help tackle the advice gap – increasing the accessibility of advice by making advisers easier to reach for clients who are time-poor, and enabling advisers to maximise the number of clients they can support, wherever they are based.”

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.

“But there is no doubt more will continue to use technology for the most part when dealing with us. We have also seen that for some, the perfect solution is a combination of face to face and online, though irrespective, we will always offer the service our clients want.

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

Alongside a change in attitudes to remote advice, abrdn’s research also revealed that more than a third (35%) of individuals now contact their adviser more frequently than they did before March 2020.

When asked why, clients pointed to more complex financial needs (47%) and a greater appreciation as to the value of advice (56%) – the latter of which rose to 61% for clients who said they currently speak to their adviser more than once a month.

Noel Butwell added: “The advice sector has more than proved its worth during the disruption of the pandemic – helping clients adapt to challenging circumstances, and providing invaluable reassurance and guidance.

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

“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.”

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