A black couple are in a meeting with their financial advisor. They are devising a financial plan to send their kids to university at their kitchen table.

Getting to know your clients is the key to retaining them, finds a new study.

“It turns out that personalization is by far the number one thing that you can do to drive trust, and then second to that is transparency,” Rob Crnkovic, co-founder and chief research officer at CapIntel, told Investment Executive.

When asked how their financial advisor could improve, 28% of Canadian investors chose to answer “more personalized advice tailored to my financial goals,” according to a poll commissioned for the 2024 CapIntel Investor Engagement Report conducted by Angus Reid.

Further, 65% of Canadian investors reported that the main reason they stay with their advisor is because the advisor understands their personal situation and preferences.

“You need to really dig in and understand who your clients are, what their goals are, what their timelines of those goals are, and how things are changing on a year to year, even month to month or quarter to quarter basis,” Crnkovic said.

The third most important factor to clients was whether financial advisors could provide them with financial education.

“When you go and meet a doctor, you ask a lot of questions and you’re given a lot of information, but folks are actually a little bit embarrassed sometimes to ask questions of their financial advisor,” Crnkovic said. Adopting a “no stupid questions” policy can help build trust.

The survey also showed that clients continue to prefer in-person meetings as the preferred communication method with 41% of respondents selecting this option. This was followed by 28% preferring email, 18% preferring phone calls and 10% wanting video calls.

However, emails, phone calls and video calls add up to 56% of respondent preferences. “If you encompass all the different ways you can have a remote relationship with your advisor, that trumps in-person right now,” Crnkovic said.

In terms of frequency, one in three clients expected their advisors to check in with them about their investment strategy twice a year, and another one-third preferred quarterly contact. Crnkovic said financial advisors could provide investors with information via digital channels more frequently, but suggested keeping each interaction concise.

Three-quarters of respondents said they were satisfied with their current financial advisor. Satisfaction levels were the highest in the prairies with Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba scoring 80% or more. Customers in Quebec (69%) and the Atlantic provinces (59%) were the least satisfied.

The research included 1,001 who worked with a financial advisor carried out from Nov. 20 to 23, 2023.