It’s a relationship business – and that doesn’t just apply to clients.

Financial advisors are three times as likely to respond to a sales pitch from an asset manager, broker-dealer, custodian or insurance company when the approach is made in person, according to a new study.

“Advisors are completely overwhelmed when it comes time,” says Howard Schneider, president of the Boston-based consulting firm Practical Perspectives and author of "Communicating With Financial Advisors – Insights and Opportunities." “Despite all the emphasis on technology solutions to communicate with advisors, they still much prefer face-to-face contact.”

Nonetheless, the study’s survey of more than 600 RIAs, brokers and financial planners found that the vast majority of marketing and sales communications that advisors receive are in the form of emails, with in-person office visits representing a relatively low portion of contacts.

Advisors also value marketing and sales material that is specific to their business, Schneider says.

“They see too many communications that are simply generic,” according to Schneider. “Too many companies who are trying to reach them don’t differentiate between a broker-dealer in a wirehouse or an independent advisor, and that’s a big mistake.”

Despite the deluge of promotional contacts, advisors should try to set aside some time each week to review the material, Schneider suggests.

“The survey found that the typical advisor receives between 50 and 100 different marketing and sales contacts each week in various formats,” he says. “That’s a lot, and one in three advisors said they receive even more. But if they do dedicate some time to reviewing them and focusing on sources that are relevant to their business, the effort can pay off, especially if they provide feedback to the company about what their specific needs are.”

According to the survey, advisors said JP Morgan, BlackRock/iShares, American Funds, Franklin Templeton, and PIMCO have “the most attention -- getting and useful marketing/sales outreach.”

The study also found that most advisors “do not perceive communications via social media to be a useful source of connection relative to other formats.”

Advisors also said they would pay more attention to sales and marketing communications if they were more concise, focused on relevant topics, and had messages that were better tailored to their business and the client base they serve.

Many also suggested reducing the volume of sales and marketing pitches they receive.

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