Date: 8/3/2020
Source: Incapital
Author: Incapital

Incapital Releases Results of Financial Professional PULSE Survey


Confident about the economy 37% see revenue increase of 10% or more in 2020

67% are confident they can attract new business through virtual meetings

BOCA RATON, FL – August 3, 2020 – According to a new survey of 641 financial professionals released by Incapital LLC, a leading underwriter and distributor of fixed income securities and risk management investment solutions, only 23% of professionals say they would meet with their clients in person for the remainder of 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, 41% said they would primarily communicate with clients by phone, while 36% said they would use virtual video tools, with Zoom (48%) being the leading choice followed by WebEx (28%).


Over three-quarters (76%) said they would be communicating more frequently with clients in 2020 compared to 2019.


The Incapital Pulse Survey: How Financial Professionals are Operating in this New Era of Uncertainty was conducted online between June 15 and June 19, 2020.


Working Safely


Half of those surveyed said they expected to be back to their offices in July, another 30% said by October, and 17% said not until 2021. Similarly, almost half (49%) have a written plan to return to their offices. Interestingly, 61% of 99 top producers with $800,000 or more of production have a written plan.


In addition, 61% have announced safety measures that will be in place to protect both clients and employees. The leading safety measures include providing hand sanitizer and spacing out appointments. Just 24% said facemasks would be required or optional, while 9% said they would provide masks.


Should they meet with a client or prospect, 67% said they would not require any health-status sharing while 11% will require a client or prospect to show proof of recent testing. Just over 20% said they would share the health test results of their team with clients or prospects.


“We conducted the Pulse survey to give our clients insight into how their peers are preparing to operate and serve investors in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis,” said Chris Mee, Managing Director, Head of Wealth Management Solutions Distribution at Incapital. “We found that financial professionals remain optimistic about their business going forward; while most don’t plan to see clients in person anytime soon, they are adapting to the new realities of serving clients safely by embracing technology and increasing communications frequency. They are also growing increasingly confident with virtual prospecting to drive their business growth despite the crisis.”


Mr. Mee added: “As many as half said they returned to their offices or will very soon, and many have written plans to help guide their returns. We expect that will continue to track - as more return, more will have plans.  But with so many going back to their offices, this may explain why they see their biggest barrier to success this year as repeated office shut-downs.”


Optimism for Economy and Revenue in 2020


Asked to rate their confidence level in the economy, financial professionals on average said their confidence level was at a 7 out of 10 (with 10 being the highest confidence rating), which may be why so many are optimistic about revenue for 2020.


More specifically, in terms of revenue for this year compared to 2019, 37% said they expect growth of over 10% with 7% seeing growth of 30% or more. Another 38% said they expected growth of 0-10%. Conversely, 19% expect 2020 revenue to be from flat to down 20%, with 6% seeing a drop of over 20%.


Almost four in ten (38%) said they would be serving more households in 2020 compared to 2019, while 50% will be serving the same number, and 12% will be serving fewer.


When asked to rank the potential largest barriers to the success of their business moving forward, the top three barriers were:


  1. Repeated office shutdowns

  2. Volatile markets

  3. Social/physical distancing requirements


The barriers that ranked the lowest – lower fees, increasing competition and margin compression –may have been more significant not long ago but now take a backseat to COVID-19 issues.


Marketing and New Business Strategies in a Pandemic


Financial professionals have embraced the use of technology to drive new business: 67% are confident they can attract new business through virtual meetings and 62% report that they’ve already conducted a virtual prospecting meeting. Interestingly, the percentages are much higher for top producers, at 78% and 74% respectively.


Almost all (98%) of those surveyed said they are comfortable meeting with prospects virtually. Surprisingly, 47% said they would be hosting live, in-person events in 2020.


The 99 top producers surveyed are using the following strategies to drive their growth today:


  1. Virtual educational seminars (51%)

  2. Asking for referrals from clients and/or strategic alliances (50%)

  3. Email campaigns (33%)

  4. LinkedIn prospecting (30%)

  5. Live educational seminars (29%)

  6. Social media advertising (28%)

  7. Facebook prospecting (25%)


“Clearly, the pandemic has changed everyone’s lives. From an investment standpoint, it has created an enormous amount of uncertainty, which means the role of the financial professional to help clients understand and weather this storm has never been greater,” Mr. Mee said. “The good news is they are embracing new communication technologies and increasing the frequency of contact in order to help instill client confidence. At the same time, they are using a variety of strategies to not just sustain their business, but to grow it. There will be a lot of lessons learned coming out of this crisis – and many of those lessons will help elevate the financial professional/client relationship to even greater levels of success.”


About the Survey


The Pulse Survey sponsored by Incapital was conducted online via Qualtrics by Red Zone Marketing. A total of 641 financial professionals, including wealth managers, fiduciaries, financial planners and brokers from more than 50 broker-dealers and RIAs completed the survey between June 15 and June 19, 2020. Responses were from financial professionals residing in 48 states and from office locations including 29% urban, 62% suburban and 9% rural. Click here to obtain the survey report.