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For advisors, the first step to connecting with the new generation of investors is to listen to what consumers are saying.fizkes/iStockPhoto / Getty Images

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In an age of do-it-yourself investing, what do Canadians really want from their financial advisors?

The question of customer experience has become critical for advisors, who find themselves competing with no-fee self-directed trading platforms as well as robo-advisors offering low-cost automated advice.

It’s critical for the bottom line too as more than three in four Canadian consumers say they would spend more money with a company that provides a better customer experience, according to Broadridge Financial Solutions Inc.’s* recent 2022 CX and Communications Insights study.

It also finds that almost 60 per cent of consumers say the pandemic has changed how they look to communicate with companies fundamentally and permanently. During the past year, almost one-third of consumers made their first online bill payment and one-quarter created their first online account and/or downloaded a mobile app with at least one company.

There are key lessons for advisors here because, as a group, they haven’t done a great job responding to these changes.

Survey participants in Canada rank retirement service providers, including advisors, near the bottom of the pack, with only 8 per cent regarding them highly for overall customer experience. By contrast, 58 per cent say their banks provide a top-quality customer experience.

The findings suggest that advisors who improve customer experience can increase client retention and boost overall growth rates.

Here are six recommendations for better service and communication based on what consumers say they want from companies.

1. Provide easy answers to simple questions

Popular retail websites have used digital tools to eliminate many day-to-day headaches for their customers.

With today’s technology, there’s no reason for consumers to be sitting on hold on a phone line or scrolling through pages on websites for answers to basic questions.

Advisors should be investing in artificial intelligence-powered customer service solutions that help answer simple questions immediately and make life easy for consumers.

2. Commit to ‘just-in-time’ communications

About 70 per cent of consumers in Canada want to receive fewer, more tailored communications, delivered through their preferred channel.

To meet these demands, advisors should be adopting predictive analytics that send communications at the right time based on expected needs.

3. Create pathways from paper to digital

Almost half (46 per cent) of consumers in Canada said they prefer to receive bills, statements and other important documents in print, while 90 per cent expect to be receiving at least some of their documents in paper form three years from now.

To help these consumers access the convenience of digital services, advisors should be including QR codes on all printed communications that allow consumers to scan and interact with digital content on their smartphones.

4. Emphasize interactivity

More than 80 per cent of Generation Z and millennial clients would go paperless if the digital experience was more engaging.

These digital-savvy consumers aren’t just looking for digital versions of static documents. They want to be able to manipulate data to get the information that matters to them.

Advisors should be building truly interactive digital documents with fully customizable sections.

5. Personalize services

Three in four consumers want providers to customize their experience based on what the company knows about them.

Delivering this type of customized client experience will require significant investments in data analytics and service automation.

However, advisors will have to walk a fine line. They will have to drive engagement through personalization without overstepping their customer relationship by prying for too many personal details. With this in mind, companies should share their data security measures and invite customers to take advantage of a more personalized experience.

6. Communicate values

The customer experience for younger consumers is not just about the service you deliver. It’s also about how they perceive your company.

More than 90 per cent of Gen Z and 87 per cent of millennial consumers believe it’s important to invest in companies that demonstrate a strong environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy. To satisfy investors in these increasingly important demographics, advisors will have to demonstrate that their values on ESG issues are in alignment.

Overall, today’s consumers aren’t shy. They’re more than willing to tell companies what they want and are ready to shift their business to companies they see delivering great service and reflecting their values.

For advisors, the first step to connecting with the new generation of investors is to listen to what consumers are saying.

*Donna Bristow is managing director, North American Wealth, at Broadridge Financial Solutions Inc. in Toronto.

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