Personal Communications, Experience Key in Forming Trust with Advisors

A new survey examining what consumers look for in a financial professional finds that personal communications and overall experience are key factors in building trust and solidifying the relationship.

More than half of Americans say their trust would increase if a financial professional communicated with them on a personal level (56%) or had several years of work experience (54%), according to the results of a survey by the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT).

In addition, 35% of Americans said their trust would increase in a financial professional if they are a member of an industry trade association, providing an opportunity for advisors to demonstrate how their memberships benefit their clients.

The online survey, which featured more than 2,000 U.S. adults, including more than 700 who currently work with a financial professional, also examined what consumers think of financial professionals and what clients seek to achieve through financial planning.

Among those who currently work with a financial professional:

  • 62% say they hope to set realistic financial goals;
  • 56% hope to develop a comprehensive plan to meet their financial goals;
  • 47% would like to better understand complicated financial matters; and
  • 42% want to assess their current financial health.

Overall, the industry performed fairly well with respondents, consistent with other recent findings. Of those who currently work with a financial professional, 77% say they are more confident in their financial future because they have the advice of a financial professional. In addition, 87% of respondents have at least some trust in financial professionals and 53% have a moderate amount or great deal of trust.

Meanwhile, gender does not appear to be a factor in hiring a financial professional, as the vast majority (82%) of Americans do not have a preference. As for age, nearly one in five (19%) respondents said they would prefer their financial professional to be older than them if they were to work with one.

Community involvement and volunteering were cited by 26% of Millennial respondents as factors that would increase their trust in hiring a financial professional. “Understanding Millennials’ priorities is vital in order to foster positive relationships with our next generation of clientele,” says MDRT President James Pittman. “There is a major opportunity for advisors who can provide them with confidence about their financial future while emphasizing shared values, such as volunteerism.”

Among the top reasons given for those who have never hired a financial planner:

  • 38% believe they are capable of managing their own finances;
  • 36% say it would cost too much; and
  • 44% say it’s because they do not have enough money or assets to need one.

The online survey of 2,065 U.S. adults was conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of MDRT from Aug. 17-21, 2017, among whom 754 worked with a financial advisor, 263 were Millennials who did not work with a financial professional and 106 were Millennials who did.

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