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Following a year of poor returns, more investors are looking for a change in financial advice, according to a new study published by Ernst & Young LLP on Thursday.

According to the 2023 EY Global Wealth Research Report, 45% of Canadians are looking to add, switch or move wealth management providers, a 24% increase since 2021. Seventeen percent cited market volatility as their primary reason for making a move.

Compared to survey respondents in other regions, Canadians are less likely to move for technology or digital capabilities, but they’re twice as likely as clients elsewhere to switch if their advisor doesn’t share their values, the study said.

Canadian investors are also becoming more willing to work with multiple providers, EY said, but clients whose advisors provide discretionary portfolio management are more likely to stay. “That’s likely tied to the fact that, by nature, discretionary relationships create greater degrees of trust with advisors,” the report said.

David Hurd, EY Canada wealth and asset management leader, said the shift in preferences is driven by economic uncertainty and an inclination to explore different products and providers.

“Wealth managers who embrace this shift and proactively help their clients navigate complexity, while empowering them and delivering value, can transform this volatility into opportunity,” he said.

When it comes to choosing a wealth manager, investment performance (48%) and fees (40%) were the top factors, followed by brand reputation (31%), range of product (30%) and personal referrals (19%).

According to the report, two in five (40%) respondents are willing to increase or maintain their use of digital service providers.

The report also highlights a shift in investor preferences toward virtual interaction with advisors. More than 40% said they preferred to communicate virtually with advisors — through video chat or email — for financial planning and investment management, roughly the same proportion as those who said they preferred to do financial planning and investment management in person.

However, when it came to opening accounts, 55% said they still preferred to interact in person, compared to 24% preferring video chat or email.