Despite digital adoption, affluent investors want advisors to manage their money

When it comes to serving affluent clients, independent advisors bring the power of people and technology together. 


October 12, 2021

By Meredith Richard, Schwab Advisor Services 

COVID-19 has been an accelerator of technology adoption, and many expect this trend to continue. In the face of such enormous change, investors are considering what the world might look like in one to three to five years’ time. And as a result, their preferences are changing. 

We’ve all relied more on technology over this last year, but many investors want to keep the human touch when it comes to their investments. 

Investors acknowledge the power of technology. However, Schwab’s recent Digital Investor Survey found that investors across the board still prefer working with an advisor to manage their finances.  

Affluent investors prefer personal interactions for their financial needs  

Affluent investors—those with $1 million or more in assets—in particular, understand the advantages of technology but are not always early adopters. They want the benefits of a trusted, personal working relationship with an independent advisor to help them plan and manage the complexity of their financial lives.  

They know technology is important and will continue to be so, yet fewer than half of affluent investors trust technology more than a person. And most say they don’t see their appetite for technology growing as in-person activities resume. 

Affluent investors also report that it’s important for them to maintain the personal aspect of investing and to have access to a financial professional despite technological advancements. With this knowledge, independent advisors can better serve this client segment. 

Advisors must find the right balance  

Digital tools may not always feel personal. But they can help reduce hours spent on administrative tasks, allowing advisors to use that valuable time doing what they do best—helping clients. Doing so empowers advisors to stay squarely focused on managing and growing their client relationships. 

Jalina quote

“The advancement of technology is something advisors can use to their advantage. No matter how far technologies have advanced, there is real opportunity for independent advisors to home in on the power of both people and technology and find the right balance to serve their affluent investor clients.” 

Jalina Kerr, Managing Director of Client Experience for Schwab Advisor Services
Jalina Kerr

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And according to Jalina this shouldn’t be a one-track process. She says advisors can work directly with their clients when building their digital client experience to find the right balance between in-person interactions and digitally driven touchpoints. 

“This past year, and these findings, show us that it’s not a question of supporting investors digitally or in person—but combining the best of both,” says Jalina. “Advisors and their clients should know that this is an ever-changing process that should be regularly assessed and revised.” 

While many enjoy the convenience technology provides in our day-to-day, investors have developed a point of view on when, where, and how they want technology incorporated into their investments. 

Understanding affluent investors’ preferences, as we navigate through the pandemic and ultimately emerge from it, will help independent advisors adapt to the changing investing landscape, enhance their client relationships, and best serve them. 

By the numbers 

Check out what affluential investors are saying about technology and how they plan to use it (or lose it) in the future. 

Adopting Technology 

The pandemic shifted the way affluent investors use technology, but not necessarily  their attitudes toward it.

Tech vs. Human Preference 

There’s a clear winner when it comes to how affluential investors want their finances managed. 

A majority say a professional does it best when it comes to most complex needs and think technology is better left for simple tasks.  

And take this feedback from affluent investors into consideration when planning how personal to get with technology. 

Overall, 1 in 3 (31%) say they want an equal balance of human and tech interaction in the future.