While most wealth managers say transparency in reporting is the name of the game, most aren’t doing a good job of it, according to a survey by SEI Global Wealth Services. In fact, 73% of investors say the wealth management industry isn’t transparent, a greater proportion than last year despite the industry’s apparent ramping up of communications.

“What’s interesting is that both parties agree that transparency is important, but intermediaries think they’re doing better than investors do,” said Albert Chiaradonna, SEI’s senior vice president of global private banking.

What clients most want is a frank discussion of how much they’ll end up paying for services (37%), while one-third of respondents want to be able to quickly ascertain where they are compared to their goals. A further 18.5% want an advisor to be able to clearly explain why movement within a portfolio is happening and 11% of clients want a better explanation of various investment risks.

“What’s missing is that investors are placing more importance on understanding what they’re receiving on a simpler level,” Chiaradonna said. “Wealth management firms have tried to be responsive, but it’s not a quantity game, it’s a quality game. They’ve overshot, and the data they’re sending clients isn’t being perceived as information.”

The takeaway? Wealth managers must make sure that any material they send to clients is easily understood. “Ultimately, the determining factor is how a client feels about an investment,” Chiaradonna said. “If a client doesn’t understand why he’s in an investment, the advisor has missed the mark.”


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