While digital and mobile offerings continue to rise in importance, many brokerage clients still desire the tangible interaction that comes with visiting a branch or speaking directly with an advisor. To that end, this Broker Monitor Report reviews how firms guide clients from their websites to either a physical branch or an advisor. This is our first look at this topic since March, 2012. We specifically focus on the following criteria within the report:
- Search options
Overall, full-service firms continue to rely heavily on branch and financial advisor locator tools, much more so than the self-directed firms in our coverage group. This makes sense given the value that full-service firms place on in-person communications. All eight full-service firms offer some type of locator tool that is easily accessible from their public site homepages, while only six of our 10 self-directed firms offer a locator tool at all, many of which are located deeper within the public sites. Ultimately, geographic searches – rather than searches for specific advisors – remain essential to Broker Monitor firms. City and state search options serve as the foundation of all branch and FA locators, as all firms with a locator tool provide both of these options to some extent. ZIP code searches are the second most popular means of finding a branch or advisor; only two firms do not offer this capability.
Additional key findings include:
- Only four firms include an image of the advisor within the search results.
- Seven firms include the hours of operation for their branches within their search results.
- Three firms do not facilitate access to their locator tools from the homepage.