Honesty and trustworthiness are the primary factors in choosing a financial advisor, according to a survey by the Spectrem Group. Investors with a net worth between $100,000 and $1 million (not including primary residence) have emerged from the economic downturn with somewhat less enthusiasm for investing, but with their advisor dependency virtually unchanged.
Thirty-eight percent identify themselves as self-directed investors who take responsibility for all of their financial decisions. But the remainder consult with advisors in varying degrees, be it concerning a specific event such as retirement planning (32 percent), regular assistance while making most of the decisions themselves (17 percent), or relying on them for most or all investment decisions (12 percent).
In choosing an advisor, these investors consider several factors ranging from the personal to the professional. Nearly all (97 percent) rank honesty and trustworthiness as most important, followed by being kept in the loop on how the advisor is managing their investments (92 percent) and the advisor’s investment track record (91 percent).
A good advisor, they believe is one who responds promptly to inquiries and questions (94 percent), understands their risk tolerance (85 percent), and is proactive about client contact (52 percent).
Fees and commissions are key factors in choosing an advisor for 85 percent of surveyed investors. One would think this would rank higher as nearly 60 percent said they thought professional advisors were too expensive. Eighty percent consider the depth of products and services offered to clients, while 75 percent strongly consider whether an advisor offers products from a variety of different companies.
A strong referral or recommendation from a trusted associate is important to 68 percent of respondents; another factor one would think should be ranked higher as it relates to honesty and trustworthiness, as does being associated with a well-known brand or company, which is important to 67 percent.
A new generation of technologically savvy investors (60 percent) are also seeking an advisor who is up to date with website and online services, but use of social media tools such as Facebook and LinkedIn is a priority to just 9 percent of those surveyed.