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2020 eMoney Consumer Marketing Survey Results: Financial Professionals Must Adapt Their Prospecting to the New Reality

Valerie Rivera December 8, 2020

eMoney Marketing Survey 2020 Results
Updated on: July 21, 2022

eMoney recently conducted a survey1 of 2,000 consumers regarding the ways in which they search for advisors and their communication preferences. It’s clear that based on these results, financial professionals have to start prospecting in new ways to continue bringing in business in the current reality of COVID-19.

In the past, financial professionals typically relied on events, centers of influence, and client referrals for business. But this is much harder in a socially distanced environment. While there are new challenges, there are also new opportunities to connect with potential prospects in different ways.

Having a strong online presence, being able to capably meet new prospects remotely, and the use of modern digital marketing tools and strategies are more important than ever.

Key Findings: 2020 eMoney Consumer Marketing Survey

Our virtual-first world has created new expectations and preferences for financial professionals’ marketing, communications, and service offerings. From the way that people search for advice to the way they communicate with their current planner, the pandemic has created change.

While many of these changes may have been prompted by COVID-19, they are likely to remain after a return to normal, given younger generations’ preferences and comfort with digital channels. We’ve compiled the key findings of our survey below.

Search Behavior: Content Marketing Is Key for Reaching New Prospects

Key findings: People are increasingly turning their attention online. In fact, they’re looking to Google more than they’re looking to their personal network of friends and family for solutions providers. People are searching for both financial professionals and financial advice online. With a majority of people saying informative, educational content would make an advisor stand out, content marketing for advisors and personalized communication has never been more important. This is especially true among younger generations who tend to lean more heavily on digital channels and take longer to select an advisor. Financial professionals can adapt to changing search behaviors by providing educational content that both improves the firm’s visibility in search engines and nurtures relationships with prospects.

Survey results:

  • 42% start the search for an advisor on search engines like Google. This is higher than the number that would start by asking friends or family (31.9%).
  • Over half of those over 54-years old would start by asking friends or family, while only 15% of those aged 18-24 would start that way.
  • The majority of respondents (43%) would take one to two weeks to research advisors. Only 7% of 18-24 year-olds would take less than a week, compared to 20% of over 54 making a decision in less than a week.
  • 63% say informative, educational content would make an advisor’s marketing stand out.
  • 84% said personalized content is very or extremely important when working with an advisor.
  • 44% of people said they get or search for financial advice on digital media.
What People Are Searching for: Your Brand Is Influential

Key findings: People are searching for a knowledgeable advisor they can trust—someone with the expertise to sympathize with their unique circumstances and offer personalized advice. They also desire full transparency in the relationship, which is understandable given the level of trust required to build deep relationships centered on holistic advice. Financial professionals should be sure to feature their experience and qualifications prominently in all of their marketing—don’t be afraid to show a little personality as well, this may resonate strongly with certain audiences. People clearly value your website—in addition to your personal branding. Be sure to clearly explain all fees and compensation; this will go a long way in creating transparency and trust.

Survey results:

  • 98% say a website is somewhat or very important when choosing and advisor
  • 65% cited age, experience, and credentials as a top consideration when choosing an advisor.
  • 64% said their ability to provide personalized advice was a top consideration.
  • 68% said lack of clarity when it comes to fees, compliance and other issues would cause them to hesitate to reach out to an advisor.
  • 56% said not having enough information to make a decision would cause them to hesitate to reach out.
  • 52% said a lack of trust in financial advisors or institutions would cause them to hesitate to reach out.
Advisory Model Preferences: Highlight Your Diverse Offerings

Key findings: People prefer a hybrid model of advice. Some even prefer a self-led planning experience. This is very much in alignment with the way people are searching for advice and educating themselves on finances in the first place. Given that these are the types of advice people desire, be sure to highlight in all your marketing materials the diverse range of offerings and technology you offer to cater to preference for these individuals for a hybrid or more independent planning experience.

Survey results:

  • 49% of people said they would choose a hybrid advisory model, the most popular answer.
  • 37% said they would prefer self-led financial planning apps, the second most popular answer.
  • The least popular model for advice was robo-advisors and investment apps like Robinhood.
Social Media Use: Get Active on Social

Key Findings: The trend here is clear—social media is a powerful prospecting tool and it’s only becoming more influential as younger generations acquire wealth and become more of a profitable segment of clients for advisors. It may be no surprise that younger generations are more comfortable on social media, but people of all ages are receptive to hearing from a financial professional on social media. Capitalize on the opportunity of financial advisor social media marketing by reaching out directly to their ideal prospects and starting to nurture a relationship to bring in more business from social channels.

Survey results:

  • 36% said they’ve used a financial advisor who has reached out to them on social media.
  • Only 28% of females used an advisor that reached out to them on social media compared to 46% of males.
  • 60% of those aged 18-24 and 41 percent of those 25-34 have used an advisor that reached out to them on social media.
  • 58.5% of all respondents said they’d be open to hearing from an advisor on social media, while 78% of those 18-24 said they’d be open to hearing from an advisor on social media.
Communication Preferences: Adapt to the Virtual Client Experience

Key findings: Above all, in-person communication is still the preferred method of communication, but this is not always possible in today’s reality. Digital meetings are the second-most preferred type of communication and personalized emails are a close third. Financial professionals should rely heavily on these modes of communication when in-person meetings simply are not possible. Younger generations tend to value digital and in-person meetings equally, which has implications beyond COVID-19. Making yourself available virtually is important given our current circumstances, but it will continue to be important as the next generation becomes a more influential audience segment. So, investing in ways to connect and elevate the client experience virtually can help financial professionals adapt to increasing expectations for virtual experiences.

Survey results:

  • Almost four in ten people (38%) prefer in-person communication above all other methods.
  • Digital meetings rank second (17%) and personalized emails rank third (15.85%).
  • For those aged 18-24, in-person meetings (27.8%) and digital meetings (27.35%) were almost tied for first place.
  • Text message and social media are the least preferred methods of communication with an advisor.
  • More men prefer digital meetings compared to their female counterparts, with one in five men saying digital meetings are their preferred choice compared to only 14% of women.
  • The younger generation stands out for their use of tech with almost three in 10 (27%) admitting they prefer digital meetings, compared to only 12% and 6% of 45-54 and over 54s, respectively.
  • On the other hand, in-person meetings are most popular among the older age demographics. More than half (54%) of over 54s prefer in-person meetings above all else, and the same is true for 47% of those aged 45-54.

New Ways of Prospecting to Continue Growing

At a time when everything has gone virtual, it’s not surprising that the ways that financial professionals have to reach new clients has changed, and that the importance of digital channels has increased dramatically.

COVID-19 has changed the way we conduct business all over the world, and the financial advisory industry is no different. Even beyond the ways in which financial professionals have to prospect and communicate, there are further generational divides and changes in the way planners have to work with clients.

To continue learning about connecting with clients and prospects in our virtual world, take a look at our most recent infographic that further explores the data from our research into the changes created by our new virtual world.


1. 2020 eMoney Consumer Marketing Survey, September 2020, n=2,000

DISCLAIMER: The eMoney Advisor Blog is meant as an educational and informative resource for financial professionals and individuals alike. It is not meant to be, and should not be taken as financial, legal, tax or other professional advice. Those seeking professional advice may do so by consulting with a professional advisor. eMoney Advisor will not be liable for any actions you may take based on the content of this blog.

Image of Valerie Rivera
About the Author

Valerie Rivera, Senior Product Marketing Manager at eMoney Advisor, leads the go-to-market strategy for eMoney’s suite of business development solutions. Valerie began her career at eMoney in 2012 as an Account Executive and then a Live Trainer where she trained over 1,000 advisors on the eMoney platform – helping them drive success in their firms. In her spare time you can find Valerie outdoors--snowboarding, hiking, and mountain biking in her home in Colorado.

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