Investment advisors: Balancing traditional with digital

Customer behaviors are shifting, based on Accenture’s Global Distribution & Marketing Consumer Study of 33,000 customers in 18 markets, including nearly 10,000 consumers of Investment Advice.

For investment advisors, the survey raises questions. How will advisors bring digital innovation, while still observing traditional values? How will they maintain trust and loyalty in a digital first environment?

A comprehensive view of shifting consumer expectations

Accenture’s investment advice report assesses challenges facing advisors, illustrating shifting customer behaviors and highlighting new concerns.


Introducing today’s consumers:
Three distinct groups emerge

Our study identified three groups of consumers that show different behaviors and preferences around how they want to interact with their investment advisors


This digitally active group is ready for new delivery models. They are willing to share their data in exchange for personalized services. Nomads are comfortable with computer-generated support and with receiving services from non-traditional providers. They make up 58% of investment advice respondents.

Nomads are looking for 4 key attributes from their investment advisor:

  • Ready to transition to a new digital model

    Would turn to Google or Amazon for Investment Info

    60% would consider using Google or Amazon for support in making investment decisions.

    Nomads are open to non-traditional sources for investment advice.

    Will make investment decisions based on automated support

    48% are very willing to use automated support for investing. A further 39% are somewhat willing to do so.

    Firms targeting Nomads should get automated options in place if they have not done so.

  • Seeking enhanced personalization

    Data sharing must drive personalization

    68% are willing to share more personal data with their advisor. But 69% say this must drive more personalized recommendations.

    Firms targeting Nomads should be able to provide specific offerings related to financial situation and stage of life.


    Only 20% say their advisor is excellent at tailoring support to their personal investing goals.

    Firms hoping to attract Nomads should be able to listen, both in person and through data collection, to what the customers are saying.

  • Already self-serving where possible

    Prepared to do it alone

    49% are undertaking more investing activity by themselves than through an advisor.

    Only 12% are undertaking more investment-related activities through their advisor than by themselves.

    Firms working with Nomads should be offering self-service options for education and basic transactions.

  • More likely to respond favorably to digital tools and services


    73% view digital tools for both simple (account monitoring) and complex (financial planning) tasks as good or excellent.

    Nomads feel comfortable with online tools being offered to them, but are open to more offerings and greater complexity.


These consumers search for the best price. They want to buy financial services from traditional providers and, while they operate well in a digital environment, they also place value on one-to-one engagement. They make up 8% of investment advice respondents.

Hunters are looking for 3 key attributes from their investment advisor:

  • Are primarily driven by getting the best deal on price

    Competitive pricing is key

    48% of Hunters say competitive pricing is key in keeping them loyal to their investment advisor.

    Firms targeting Hunters should be taking aggressive action to reduce costs.

    They need the human "value-add"

    40% say a strong long-term personal relationship with an advisor is crucial to keeping them loyal. They are open to digital but the direct and personal service component remains essential.

    Firms working with Hunters should be seeking ways to free up human advisors for value-added activities while keeping a close eye on costs.

  • Humans’ ability to cut through complexity is vital

    Human advisors cannot be replaced

    The ability to ask direct questions and seek personalized service is most valued (33%).

    Firms seeking to attract Hunters should be able to put them in touch with humans on a direct, convenient basis.

    They are pragmatic about automation however

    Only 26% are very willing to use automated investment recommendations for investing, and 18% for planning retirement funds.

    Firms working with Hunters should be experimenting with automated support.

  • Will share data for more competitive pricing

    Highly driven by price benefits for sharing data

    67% will share more personal data, though 80% want more competitive pricing in return.

    Firms targeting Hunters should be testing personalized, data-driven investment services.

Quality Seekers

These loyal customers value brand integrity and service excellence, and will work with providers who put customers interests first. Price is less important than elements such as data protection and responsive service. They make up 34% of investment advice respondents.

Quality Seekers are looking for 3 key attributes from their investment advisor:

  • Are driven by service quality and trust

    Traditional measures of service top their priority list

    Trust in the integrity of their investment advisor keeps them loyal (49%). 44% are driven by high quality service and 46% by a good personal relationship.

    Firms working with Quality Seekers should focus on basics of service and personal contact.


    58% say their advisor is their most useful source of investment advice. Only 20% say this about their advisor’s online sites and tools.

    Firms targeting Quality Seekers should emphasize selection, training and motivation of account managers.

  • Will share data if it delivers personalization

    See room for improvement in personalization

    Only 18% say their advisor does an "excellent” job of tailoring advice to them.

    To attract Quality Seekers, firms should look at hybrid offerings combining human contact with data-driven analysis.

    Recognize a more data-driven relationship could help drive this

    64% will share more of their personal data with their advisor. But 77% demand more personalized advice in return.

    Firms hoping to work with Quality Seekers should have personalized offerings ready.

  • Are looking for greater transparency

    Say transparency and communication are where advisors fall down

    67% are satisfied with the overall relationship, but only 61% say this about transparency around fees.

    Only 60% think the quality of communication around new opportunities is good enough.

    Firms seeking to work with Quality Seekers can gain an edge by communicating more clearly and in more detail.

Shifting customer demands — Exploring Financial Services trends and implications

Our study looked across Financial Services to understand financial customers’ wants and needs. Five above-line trends emerged, as well as specific regional and financial industry findings. See what else our survey reveals.



Profile picture of Piercarlo Gera

Piercarlo Gera

Global Managing Director,
FS Distribution & Marketing Practice

Piercarlo is Accenture’s global lead for its Financial Services Distribution & Marketing practice, which covers work in distribution channels (such as branch, mobile, web and social media) and marketing (such as big data, analytics and CRM).

Profile picture of Silvia Agnelli

Silvia Agnelli

Managing Director,
FS Distribution & Marketing Practice, Wealth Management Lead

With over 25 years of Capital Markets and Wealth Management industry experience, Silvia leads the wealth management offering within the Distribution & Marketing Global Practice. She has extensive experience implementing successful digital transformation initiatives for the advisory process.

Profile picture of Kendra Thompson

Kendra Thompson

Managing Director,
Accenture Wealth Management

With over 15 years of broker dealer and advisory industry experience, Kendra is a managing director in Accenture’s Financial Services group focused on wealth management strategy. Based in Toronto, she leads Accenture Wealth Management Services in North America and the Management Consulting Development Program in Canada.