Affluent investors in three of Europe’s most prosperous nations have decidedly different levels of sophistication when it comes to investment knowledge and how they interact with their online trading and advisory firms. Knowing and appreciating these differences, according to a new Dow Jones survey, can make all the difference for American firms and advisors looking to expand their international client base.

The Dow Jones European Affluent Investor Study released this week offers some insight and perspective into the disparate tastes, similarities and investment behavior of well-heeled clients in France, Germany and the UK.

The study surveyed 1,127 randomly selected affluent advisors, with at least 370 respondents from each of the three countries. Investors considered “affluent” had a minimum of 50,000 pounds/euros in available investments.

According to the study, the results are particularly important and timely given the backdrop of the Eurozone crisis that has highlighted the growing financial concerns of investors and their advisors.

Nearly two-thirds of German affluent investors surveyed said they have a “working knowledge” of the financial market compared to about half of French and U.K. investors

Although the three countries shared similar sentiments in their desire for tax strategies and diversified investments, results between the countries varied on topics of satisfaction with their advisors, market knowledge and their openness to the use of mobile apps.

Investors in France and Germany were twice as likely to have accessed their advisory firm’s tablet or smartphone app compared to U.K. investors.

The survey also found online investment firms are widely used in Germany, but not so much in the U.K. or France. Of those, investors working with online advisory firms in Germany and the U.K. have stronger relationships with their advisors than their peers in France.

According to the study, French investors’ low satisfaction rate could be attributed to their low frequency of interaction with advisors. Not surprisingly, France had the lowest investor-advisor contact with 62% of French online clients connecting with their advisory only once a month – if at all.

“From a combination of our own proprietary research and Dow Jones’ survey, we see that investors are hungry for information and a firm’s ability to provide knowledge, insight and news about specific products and investments is one of the most important factors in developing positive relationships with clients and growing their customer base,” said Isabella Fonseca, a research director at Celent.

The DJ study found some other not-so-surprising-results. More than 70% of investors from all countries said that regardless of their market knowledge, finding educational information from sources like advisor newsletters was valuable and something they read on a regular basis.

Kylie Hennagin writes for Financial Planning.



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