40% of financial advisors say they interact with clients via social media, but only 7% of clients say this is the case

EY survey suggests advisors overlook or misread fundamental client behavior

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(Toronto, 22 May 2014) Financial advisors and their clients do not always see eye to eye when it comes to identifying key elements driving their relationships, according to EY’s third annual Wealth Management Survey: closing the gap.

“Our survey found a number of persistent disconnects in the financial advisor-client relationship,” says Gregory Smith, partner and Canadian leader of EY's Wealth Management practice. “For example, there’s been a lot of emphasis in the financial sector about how to win clients through social media. But our research indicates the reality is a lot of these strategies are not having the desired impact.”

EY’s survey finds fewer than 7% of Canadian investors claim to interact with their advisor using social media — but 40% of advisors believe they are interacting with their clients in this way.

“An advisor might send an article to his or her clients through social media and think that is a positive interaction,” explains Smith. “But clients aren’t necessarily paying attention to that. Advisors need to ask if it’s really adding value for their clients and having a positive effect on retention.”

Social media isn’t the only area advisors and investors aren’t seeing eye to eye. EY’s survey finds financial advisors tend to overvalue the importance of their relationships with clients, while misreading the relevance of factors like fees and segment-specific strategies.

“After years of focusing on liquidity and wealth preservation post-2008, portfolio performance is regaining the top spot on clients’ minds,” says Smith. “Investors are now looking at what will drive future wealth, and how advisors will help them achieve their broader financial goals.”

Other key findings from the survey include:

  • Canadian advisors are focused on generational wealth transfer and the move to non-traditional investments, whereas clients are more focused on geographic diversification and the balance between personalized advice and self-service.
  • Investors in Canada put more stock in the reputation of the individual advisor, and less emphasis on firm reputation, than their US counterparts.
  • Canadians still very much value traditional face-to-face interaction with advisors and are less likely to conduct transactions digitally than their US counterparts.

“Canadian financial advisors and their clients generally have positive relationships,” says Smith. “But by truly understanding what drives that relationship, advisors — and investors — will be in a better position to capitalize on opportunities.”

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