The human touch still counts despite rise of digital — survey

Advisers report that face to face meetings remain the most valued client communications channel, despite the growth of digital and social media alternatives, according to a new study commissioned by Investec Wealth & Investment.

On average, advisers say the majority (59%) of time spent communicating with clients is through face to face meetings while two-fifths of IFAs (42%) predict the portion to be over 75%.

Despite the current dominance of face to face meetings, nearly one in four advisers (23%) predict the amount they do will fall off over the next five years compared to 10% who think they will do more. The majority (62%) think the number of meetings will remain the same.

The study shows that advisers are increasingly using a variety of digital and social tools to engage with clients: three-quarters (72%) forecast email will become more important over the next five years while a quarter (26%) predict they will be conducting more remote meetings through Facetime and Skype. Despite their high profile, only 5% think that LinkedIn and Twitter will become more important as client communications channels.

“The majority of long term relationships between intermediaries and clients are built around delivering face-to-face advice and the research underlines this will remain the case for the foreseeable future,” said Mark Stevens, head of Intermediary Services at Investec Wealth & Investment.

“That said, advisers recognise the growing popularity of digital and social channels how these can be used positively to strengthen their relationships but not act as a substitute for face-time,” Stevens said.

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