Wealth management firms that focus on their digital presence are more likely to have satisfied customers, according to a new report.

Financial advisors have fared well during the pandemic in general when it comes to how they’re viewed by their clients. Investors’ overall satisfaction with their financial advisors was 68% this year, the Money Management Institute and Aon found in a survey between January and February 2021 — just slightly lower than the 69% satisfaction rate recorded last year, MMI says.

However, client satisfaction reached 84% among investors who believe their advice firm to be a digital leader, according to the report. Among investors who viewed their advice firm as merely on par with the rest of the industry, satisfaction was 70% — and clients who saw their advice firm as a laggard in the digital arena had a satisfaction rate of just 38%, MMI says.

That said, advisors shouldn’t underestimate the value of in-person communication — and some clearly do, according to the report. Advisors believe their client preference for in-person planning is 37% while it’s in fact 43%, MMI says. In addition, advisors’ perception of client preference for in-person discussions about investment performance is 30%, while actual client preference is 36%, according to the report.

“One of the clear messages we see from this research is that it’s critically important to continue to invest in digital infrastructure for both clients and advisors,” Craig Pfeiffer, president and chief executive officer at MMI, said in a statement. “But, at the same time, the advisor remains the straw that stirs the drink, and human touch is still paramount in the financial planning process.”

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