Technology has revolutionized the way financial advisors interact with investors, and access to information has raised their expectations for service quality, delivery and performance. At the same time, institutions are challenged to stay ahead of the technology curve, while managing competitive pressures, regulation and the adoption of new service models. Where does that leave advisors? They’re caught in the middle, needing to adapt to change on both ends: from how to connect with more demanding clients, and from the institutions that are still learning how to best support advisors amidst the changes affecting the industry.

We recently set out to learn more about these challenges—to take the pulse of our industry by interviewing the advisors on the front line. Our Voice of the Advisor survey interviewed more than 650 financial advisors in the United States and Canada.

Some of the topics we covered include:

  • Digital usage and preferences. Three-quarters of the advisors surveyed believe clients’ demand for digital tools and channels is increasing, and 62 percent already use social media with their clients.
  • Institutional support for digital. Some 41 percent of advisors say clients are requesting tools the institution does not offer, while 46 percent of advisors say some but not enough digital needs are being met. Furthermore, 30 percent of advisors said they would consider leaving their institution if they do not receive significant support on tools and platforms.
  • Service models. Only 20 percent of advisors believe that online investment managers pose a serious threat to their businesses. However there are pressures on the existing service model. Nearly a third of advisors—especially newer advisors—are being asked to transfer clients to digital platforms, and 50 percent of newer advisors are experiencing fee reductions used to retain clients.

Over the next several weeks, I’ll share additional findings from this study on these and other topics, as well as some of the opportunities for firms looking to deal with the challenges that their advisors see every day.