2019 DALBAR Retirement Study: How Financial Advisor Designations can Affect Customer Experience
When providing a service, the perception of preparedness can play a crucial role in customer satisfaction. This fact is highlighted in the recent 2019 DALBAR Retirement Study, which analyzed customer interactions with advisors at several financial institutions during retirement planning appointments.
The findings of this study show that a variety of factors can have an impact on a customer’s overall perception of an interaction, including how prepared an advisor seems when coming into the appointment, how confident they are in explaining the material, and the potential impact advisor designation can have. This study provides a comprehensive examination of these factors, as well as insight into how firms can better prepare advisors to provide more positive client experiences when it comes to helping people plan for retirement. Here are a few key observations:
Always be Prepared
In certain instances, clients reported having a negative experience due to interactions in which a financial advisor seemed unprepared for the appointment. In some cases, it appeared that the advisor was not notified about the meeting ahead of time, despite clients making an appointment in advance. This resulted in situations where the advisor seemed less prepared to answer questions about retirement planning, or to provide specific information that would be useful to the client.
The study also showed that some potential clients encountered difficulty in reliably finding financial institutions with qualified financial planners on staff. Both of these situations can be an indicator of opportunities for better in-branch communication, and staffing changes that would allow the institution to better meet customer needs.
Financial Designations and the Difference in Client Experience
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the study demonstrated that in scenarios where a customer met with a financial advisor who had a designation such as Certified Financial Planner (CFP) or Personal Financial Planner (PFP), the client experience swayed meaningfully towards the positive. While advisors without designations were also shown to be capable of providing great client experiences in some instances, advisors with designations were reported to be much more knowledgeable and prepared, and easier to talk to about retirement planning.
While there are undoubtedly many factors in play, the study showed that this positive perception can likely be attributed to the experience and expertise gained from earning a designation, which contributes to the planner’s ability to ease retirement fears, make the conversation easier, and demonstrate their retirement planning acumen. In addition, designations can also instil trust in a client, due to the required education and ethics curriculum. For example, CFP candidates must pass a national exam and earn three years of qualifying work experience. All of which contributes to the likelihood of a successful client meeting.
Building a Better Retirement Planning Experience
On closer analysis of the data gathered from these appointments, this study offers two important points. The first is that only a limited number of clients were able to have meetings with a planner who had a CFP or PFP designation, which could be an indication of a need for financial institutions to consider having more certified planners on staff. The second is that there is a correlation between the level of preparedness, confidence, and education demonstrated by advisors during retirement planning appointments, and the type of client experience a customer is likely to have at a financial institution.
In addition to the findings above, the 2019 DALBAR Retirement Study provides an in-depth evaluation of additional client scenarios, as well as insights into multiple areas of potential improvement, making it an excellent resource for financial institutions. For more information on the study, feel free to contact us at 1-800-993-0128 or firstname.lastname@example.org