With a third of financial advisors dissatisfied with the digital experience offered by the asset management industry, a recent survey also found that most advisors would be “extremely likely” to invest more with firms whose websites meet their expectations.
The digital experience offered by the asset management industry has fallen behind the times when compared to other industries, according to a new study by J.D. Power. This failure to deliver on digital experience has diminished advisor satisfaction, which the study suggests can have a negative impact on their likelihood to engage or invest.
“The asset management industry, as a whole, has been falling behind other industries,” Craig Martin, executive managing director and head of wealth and lending intelligence at J.D. Power, said.
While the pace of website development and improvement has been accelerating “particularly in highly competitive sectors like banking,” 27% of advisors surveyed by J.D. Power said modern asset management websites do not deliver on “necessary basics.”
Martin said this is particularly “noteworthy” because nearly 60% of advisors would be “extremely likely” to invest more with asset management firms whose websites meet their expectations.
“Similar to the typical consumer, failing to meet the basic elements of foundational needs can turn advisors off or cause [them] to get frustrated or discouraged, which limits reuse in the future.
“Having a site that requires a lot of time and effort from the advisor will limit their digital engagement with an asset manager.”
Several anonymous respondents in the survey expressed frustration with the time taken to find information on asset management websites.
“The way it is laid out is not easy to look at and find things. It doesn’t seem like the site is logically planned out, making finding things hard. The solution is to call in to get help,” one respondent said.
3 keys to improve site performance
J.D. Power identified three key criteria that asset management websites must meet to deliver a “superior digital experience” for advisors.
Websites must deliver valuable information and insights; make information easy to find and accessible; and be “foundationally sound” and user-friendly.
Martin described the valuable component as the top-ranking element of this hierarchy.
“The bottom two levels are key to enabling the top level, where the value to advisors is maximized,” he said.
“No matter how good the content and tools are, if advisors struggle to locate the content or are unwilling to use the site, we find that their stated intent to invest new or additional assets at that firm in the next three months is dramatically diminished.”
For asset management firms to maximize their appeal to advisors, all three criteria must be met, according to the survey’s findings.
If the website meets basic foundational criteria, 20% of advisors are “extremely likely” to invest.
The percentage increases to 31% if ease of access is achieved; and to 58% if all three key criteria are met.
Other factors to consider
Another factor that could be negatively impacting advisor satisfaction is “a lack of focus on promoting and educating advisors on the digital capabilities that are available.”
“On average, only 26% of advisors said the firm provides a demo or tour of the website and available resources, and 41% said their wholesaler or support rep. didn’t take any actions related to helping with digital,” Martin said.
J.D. Power noted a decrease in overall satisfaction scores among advisors who said their wholesaler or support representative failed to provide website support.
Advisors in this category had an average satisfaction rate of 581 out of 1,000. In contrast, the average satisfaction rate among advisors who received a demo or tour of the website and who were given resources for website support was 721.
Additionally, Martin said the digital experience plays a “key role” in brand image with the next generation of advisors, who tend to use digital channels as their first point of inquiry.
This was also suggested by some of the anonymous respondents.
“I love [Company]. I hate the website now that all the additional other companies’ funds are on it. It is very confusing and frustrating to find what I want,” said one.
Asset management study findings
The J.D. Power 2023 U.S. Advisor Online Experience Study scored the websites of 17 asset management firms based on an index model with five key performance indicators. Those indicators included: overall satisfaction, ease of navigation, visual appeal, speed, and research information and content.
In each category, J.D. Power found that six firms scored below average while five firms scored above average. The study did not specify which companies ranked well or poorly in each category.
For overall satisfaction, two companies scored significantly above average; three scored above average; three scored below average but not significantly; and three scored significantly below average.
Overall scores for asset manager websites declined three points to 639 this year as compared to last year. For the study, 2,500 financial advisors were surveyed between May and August 2023.
“From our financial advisor satisfaction study, we find that enabling advisor efficiency and effectiveness is key for advisor satisfaction,” Martin said.
J.D. Power is a data analytics, consumer insights and advisory services firm that uses big data, AI and algorithms to evaluate consumer behavior.
Rayne Morgan is a Content Marketing Manager with PolicyAdvisor.com and a freelance journalist and copywriter.
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