Complexity and Apathy Leading Challenges for Financial Professionals

February 28, 2006 Atlanta Share: Print Subscribe to Email Alerts

Financial professionals today are finding themselves pressed between two competing forces: retail clients growing increasingly reluctant to investment guidance, and product providers – financial services companies – inundating them with complicated products and paperwork. According to ING U.S. Financial Services, there is a single way to tame these dual challenges: by making financial products, processes, and information easier for producers and clients alike.

In a study of 300 financial professionals conducted by Roper Public Affairs, a division of GfK. for ING, the vast majority of respondents -- nearly 9 out of 10 -- agree that “When a financial institution is difficult to work with it costs memoney.” In the same survey, financial professionals also said they are facing a challenging environment, with more than 30 percent saying it is harder to counsel clients today compared to five years ago.

“In today’s world, the average American needs a trusted financial professional more than ever,” said Toby Hoden, chief marketing officer for ING U.S. Financial Services. “People are still intimidated by managing their finances, or just aren’t interested in taking action to ensure a secure financial future. If we can make financial services easier, perhaps more people would be more engaged in the process.”

Whether it’s dealing with reluctant investors or navigating through mounds of paperwork and compliance requirements, financial professionals say working with clients has become increasingly difficult.

About a third of survey respondents said it is harder to give advice to clients today compared to five years ago. Among the biggest challenges

  • 90 percent cited “Getting people to make a decision.”
  • 85 percent cited “Convincing prospective clients that they need the help/guidance of a financial professional to prepare successfully for their financial future.”
  • 82 percent cited “Overcoming people’s lack of interest in financial planning.”
  • 81 percent cited “Overcoming people’s intimidation about financial planning.”

While complexity and information overload is a problem, the research shows progress is being made. For example, in cases where brokers report working with financial services companies had been easier, they cited three key differences:

  • 28 percent said “Support became better/more accessible”
  • 28 percent said “The amount of information, paperwork, or number of products they offered was streamlined or made easier.”
  • 22 percent said, “Their wholesalers have become more responsive.”

“There are challenges, but there are also solutions,” Hoden said. “Ultimately, the financial services industry needs to make it easier for financial professionals to help their clients save, invest, protect and manage their money,” Hoden said. “At ING, we’re making changes in everything we do and in all aspects of the organization to make this happen.”

About ING

ING is a global financial institution of Dutch origin offering banking, insurance and asset management to over 60 million private, corporate and institutional clients in more than 50 countries.

With a diverse workforce of over 113,000 people, ING comprises a broad spectrum of
prominent companies that increasingly serve their clients under the ING brand.

In the U.S., the ING family of companies offer a comprehensive array of financial services to retail and institutional clients which include life insurance, retirement plans, mutual funds, managed accounts, alternative investments, direct banking, institutional investment management, annuities, employee benefits, financial planning, and reinsurance. ING holds top-tier rankings in key U.S. markets and serves over 14 million customers across the nation. For more information, visit

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