Canadians plan to invest more in their 2010 portfolios despite recent losses
and worries about economic recovery

    
    Customer experience is the key driver in determining where they invest,
    according to Maritz Research Canada Survey
    

TORONTO, Oct. 13 /CNW/ - Canadian investors are heading into a new RRSP investment season in a cautiously optimistic mood. While 60 per cent of investors lost money on their investments in the past year, most feel that the economy is on the rebound and plan to invest more, according to a national survey of 500 Canadians with at least $75k in investable assets, conducted by Maritz Research Canada.

Where investors put their money will depend on how satisfied they are with their institution or advisor. According to the survey, being good is not good enough. Thirty per cent of all investors indicated they were unlikely to maintain or increase their level of investment with their primary firm. Even among those somewhat satisfied with their firm, 40 per cent said they would not or might not maintain or increase their investments with that firm.

"Clients don't just want to be satisfied, they want to be delighted," said Rob Daniel, Managing Director, Maritz Research Canada. "Firms must be vigilant about monitoring the behaviours and attitudes of their best clients, understanding that many are loyal through inertia rather than from positive attitudes and experiences that will truly keep them from looking into other options."

The survey captured the uncertain mood of investors. Sixty-six per cent said the economy had turned around but 68 per cent were concerned about further downturns in the next three to five years and 40 per cent believed we were headed for more declines in the next six months.

Sixty-four per cent thought the Canadian government had done a good job of steering the country through the recession, whereas only 46 per cent thought the U.S. had done a good job.

Canadians who were invested more heavily in GICs and Term Deposits were most likely to earn money on their investments through the market downturn. The Maritz Investor survey says that these more risk-averse investors often channel their investment portfolios through Banks or Credit Unions and these institutions may be in the best position to grow their clientele in the near future. Seventy per cent of investors agree that less risky investments are currently the best strategy.

In addition, the survey reveals that while portfolios have not changed dramatically and are not expected to in the next year, Canadian investors are less committed to mutual funds. Asked if they could start a portfolio from scratch, 54 per cent said they would reduce mutual fund holdings in favour of other options such as Government Savings Bonds, corporate bonds and commodities.

"What we're seeing is that Canadians are not shying away from investing because of the rough year they've had, however they are rethinking their strategies in the market. We predict a continued flight to safety among Canadian investors, which bodes well for Banks, Credit Unions and others who traditionally attract more risk-averse clients," said Daniel.

While Canadians of all ages have taken substantial hits to their investment portfolios, these losses have been particularly troubling for 45-54 year olds. According to the Maritz survey, Canadians aged 45-54 are seriously reconsidering their retirement plans. In fact, nearly 40 per cent of 45-54 year old investors say they are being forced to rethink some aspect of their retirement, including the timing of their retirement and the makeup of their portfolios. This presents an opportunity for advisors to grow their business and a challenge when working to retain clients in this segment.

Despite losing money, many investors remain loyal to their financial advisors. In fact, while 40 per cent say now would be a good time to look for a new advisor, few have intentions of doing so. Advisors with the best communication skills and practices are most likely to maintain their clientele and perpetuate this loyalty. Specifically, advisors who contact their clients at least once every two months, preferably proactively, have the most loyal clients. This simple communication standard does not always have to be in the form of a visit or a phone call, with more and more advisors making good use of quality newsletters and email to communicate with clients.

When it comes to satisfying clients and ensuring long-time loyalty, customer experience attributes turn out to be more important than product and performance attributes. In fact, customer experience attributes combine to influence nearly 60 per cent of the average investor's satisfaction with their investment firm, compared with 40 per cent for performance and product attributes. These customer experience attributes include broker/advisor relationship, various communication vehicles used, and general service.

    
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Investment Aspects                                  Influence on Loyalty
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Customer Experience Attributes
    -  Broker/Advisor Relationship
    -  Newsletters and Publications                              58%
    -  Reputation
    -  Quality of Online Services
    -  Convenient Locations

    Products and Performance
    -  Performance of investments                                42%
    -  Fees charged
    -  Proprietary investment products offered

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    

"Investors have told us that their loyalty to their investment partners is being driven more by their customer experience than by their investment performance. Advisors who do the best job making their clients feel valued are most likely to keep those clients while simultaneously growing their business. Constant quality communications with clients is key," said Daniel.

The survey suggests that significant insight can be gained from a deeper understanding of Canadian investors who are less than satisfied with their advisors and therefore less likely to be loyal in the future. Firms interested in aggressive acquisition would do well to differentiate on superior customer experience.

Canadian investors say that the most important attribute for driving satisfaction with their advisor include: frequent contact, proactively offering solutions, helping create a useful and achievable financial plan, treats me as a valued client and objective advice.

"Our survey shows that Canadians are re-examining every aspect of their investing strategy, from the firm and advisor they work with, right down to the specific makeup of their portfolios. In a time when most investment firms and advisors are not able to brag about their recent performance, customer experience has become the key for them to grow their clientele and inoculate themselves against aggressive competitors. Relationships and communication are the key levers firms have at their disposal to keep their clients satisfied. Firms need to focus on these aspects and make them consistent to enhance their strength moving forward," said Daniel.

About Maritz Research

As one of the world's largest marketing research firms, Maritz Research helps many of today's most successful companies improve performance through a deep understanding of their customers, employees and channel partners. Founded in 1973, it offers a range of strategic and tactical solutions concentrating primarily in the automotive, financial services, hospitality, pharmaceutical, telecommunications, retail, workplace and technology industries. The company is a member of the Canadian Marketing Association, the Market Research and Intelligence Association, ESOMAR, the Market Research Society, CASRO, the Conference Board, and the American Marketing Association.

Maritz Research Canada and Maritz Canada are units of Maritz, a sales and marketing services company, which helps organizations achieve their full potential through understanding, enabling, and motivating employees, channel partners, and customers. In addition to market and customer research, Maritz provides communications, learning solutions, incentive initiatives, meetings and event management, rewards and recognition, travel management services, and customer loyalty programs.

SOURCE Bond Brand Loyalty

For further information: For further information: or the full survey please contact: Allison Stokes, Media Profile, (416) 342-1830, Allison.Stokes@mediaprofile.com


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