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Inaugural Wealth Sentiment Study Reveals American’s Feelings Towards Wealth Management

Zoe Financial released the results of our inaugural Zoe Wealth Planning Sentiment Study. A snapshot of affluent U.S. household perceptions about financial planning, the report reveals significant acceptance of digital wealth management options among consumers and broad opportunities for financial advisors to grow their client base.

“The study shows that affluent individuals value trustworthiness above all, seek long-term relationships with their financial advisors and are increasingly willing to find a financial advisor online,” said Andres Garcia-Amaya, CFA, founder and CEO of Zoe Financial. “The study also suggests that traditional business models for finding wealth management services are ripe for disruption.”

The study was designed to reveal the rate at which affluent U.S. households (defined as 2019 household income of $250,000 or more) use financial advisors, how they find wealth management services, what they hope to achieve by working with a financial advisor, and their general attitudes toward fintech. Key findings include:

  • 67% are currently working with a financial advisor 
  • 54% would be willing to find a financial advisor online, and 75% are completely comfortable with the crossover between financial services and technology 
  • 80% would work with a financial advisor for at least 10 years, and 50% are open to working with a financial advisor for life  
  • 90% say that trustworthiness is the most important trait in a financial advisor 
  • 64% believe there is a distinct difference between financial advisors and financial planners

Consumers value trustworthiness in a financial advisor over any other trait and that attitude may also explain respondents’ desire to build a long-term relationship with a financial advisor. Half indicated they’d work with an advisor for life and the overwhelming majority expressed willingness to work with an advisor for a decade.

The study also revealed a widely held misconception, consumers believe that financial advisors and financial planners are one and the same. Confusion around the terms may lead to the incorrect belief that financial advisors don’t provide planning services, when in reality they do. This survey finding presents an opportunity for financial advisors to reach out to clients regarding their planning services. 

“People value trustworthiness but still need to consider the role incentives and commissions can play in their relationships with a financial advisor,” Garcia-Amaya observed. “With a fee structure rather than an assets-under-management arrangement, independent financial advisors today are a client’s household CFO. With new technology, it’s possible to find online the financial advisor that is the perfect fit for each consumer’s unique financial and investing goals.”

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