Investors are expecting higher levels of transparency than ever before, holding their investment managers to the highest ethical standards, and are laser-focused on returns, according to a newly released study “From Trust to Loyalty: A Global Survey of What Investors Want,” by CFA Institute, the global association of investment professionals, that measures the opinions of both retail and institutional investors globally.
The findings reveal that investors want regular, clear communications about fees and upfront conversations about conflicts of interest. The biggest gaps between investor expectations and what they receive relate to fees and performance. Clients want fees that are structured to align their interests, are well disclosed and fairly reflect the value they are getting from their investment firms.
“The bar for investment management professionals has never been higher. Retail and institutional investors, as always, crave strong performance, however both groups also demand enhanced communication and guidance from their money managers. Building trust requires truly demonstrating your commitment to clients’ well-being, not empty performance promises or tick-the-box compliance exercises. Effectively doing so will help advance the investment management profession at a time when the public questions its worth and relevance.” said Paul Smith, president and CEO of CFA Institute.
“While an increase in overall trust in the financial services industry is a net positive for financial professionals,” continued Smith, “performance is no longer the only ‘deal breaker’ for investors. They are continuing to demand more clarity and service from financial professionals and, with the rise of robo-advisors, they have more alternatives than ever before. Further, if investment professionals don’t provide this clarity, then regulators may force them to, for better or worse.”
The study also shows that investors are anxious about global markets, and do not believe their investment firms are prepared. Investors revealed a growing anxiety about the state of global finance. Almost one-third of investors feel that another financial crisis is likely within the next three years (33 percent of retail investors/29 percent of institutional investors), with significantly more in India (59 percent) and France (46 percent). In addition, only half of all investors believe their investment firms are “very well prepared” or “well prepared” (52 percent retail investors/49 percent institutional investors) to manage their portfolio through a crisis.