Research from Metia Group has found that U.S. consumers are confronting radical shifts in their financial priorities in the wake of the pandemic.
Undertaken by Metia Group’s specialist research and insight unit, the report - The Post-Crisis Consumer: A Guide for Advisors and Wealth Managers - reveals the findings of a national U.S. survey of 1,380 adults spanning ages from 18 to 75 and of varying degrees of financial literacy and wealth. The study highlights the shifting financial planning priorities in ‘the new normal’ and identifies how advisors must adapt their pre-COVID frameworks to stay relevant to consumer needs post crisis.
The report finds that:
• 24 percent of respondents stated that the pandemic has made it difficult to meet basic financial needs - with younger groups (aged 18 to 54) more likely to struggle to make ends meet.
• 58 percent of savers are having more frequent ‘taking care of us’ conversations with relatives, especially focused on: a new or renewed focus on updating a will or estate plan (19 percent); supporting children (15 percent); and, increasing financial support to extended family members (11 percent).
• 27 percent of respondents who are not yet retired are now planning on retiring later - these are typically male, are uncomfortable talking about finances and are unlikely to use a financial advisor.
• Of those savers who have already retired, 29 percent of savers have also changed or are planning to change their distribution plans. Those not confident in discussing finances and those who do not have an advisor, were both more likely to have changed their distribution plan.
• 28 percent of savers are actively increasing their knowledge around financial planning directly due to the financial impact of the pandemic. This is particularly prevalent amongst younger people, those with more investable assets, and those who experienced an employment change.
• Only five percent of the group defined as ‘wishful thinkers’ showed any drop in confidence about their financial situation despite receiving no professional financial advice. They also showed decreased trust in the financial services sector, making it even harder to raise them from a state of complacency to taking necessary action.
The report also highlights how changes in sense of purpose, as well as transformed financial planning needs, will impact how advisors will need to cater and relate to clients. This includes shifting financial planning concerns to cover the whole family, given the rise in requirements to support extended family members with their finances. Advisors will have to be able to demonstrate they can work with multiple family members at once.
Working with younger investors is also a priority - with advisors needing to create highly personalized communications that help millennial and Gen Z consumers to improve financial literacy. This is particularly important given 95 percent of investors fire legacy advisors upon inheriting wealth. The report also recommends advisors pivoting focus from long-term financial goals to solve urgent or near-term concerns as investors’ concern for lifetime financial goals drops sharply.
Misia Tramp, VP Customer Experience Strategy and Insights, Metia Group, said: “The impact of COVID-19 has extended far beyond personal health and wider portfolio performance. Across all levels of financial literacy, we are seeing major shifts in priorities for the post-crisis consumer. In order to remain relevant in the ‘new normal’, advisors must quickly respond to these changes.”
“Focusing on urgent needs, not long-term goals is the new priority,” Tramp added. “Expanding remits to cover the whole family and future proof generational wealth transfer, and supporting clients in developing financial literacy, are now key priorities. Those financial advisors and wealth managers which develop purpose behind their financial planning proposition will succeed at supporting the post-crisis consumer.”
The new report - The Post-Crisis Consumer: A Guide for Advisors and Wealth Managers - can be downloaded here