As the U.S. economy underwent the most radical transformation since the great depression over a few short weeks in March, entire industries were transformed from in-office, in-person affairs to remote-only. Having the COVID-19 pandemic force a work from home shift, it’s now been long enough to determine some actual results.
A recent study by Direxion, the ETF Trends/Direxion Work From Home Advisor Survey, explored multiple aspects of working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic and how the new work environment has been specifically affecting financial advisors and the ETF industry.
To better understand the long-term impacts of this secular shift on the advisor market, the survey asked nearly 2,200 financial advisors questions regarding the shift in clients’ portfolios, how it affected financial advisors, and the ETF industry, brought on by the pandemic.
Survey respondents included Asset Gatherers, Portfolio Managers, and Firm Management, with 55% saying that their client portfolios are 1-40% ETFs, with another 35% reporting using ETFs for more than 40% of their client assets. Conducted in October 2020, the survey also provided a better understanding of this secular shift’s long-term impacts on the advisor market.
Some Remote Findings
“With the majority of the industry working from home, these findings are vital to the reopening, management, and marketing strategies for firms moving into the new year,” said ETF Trends CIO & Director of Research, Dave Nadig.
“The pandemic has accelerated already existing trends in the advisor business, and it shows, with 45% of advisors stating they’ve increased their usage of ETF issuer webcasts. Without any major changes on the horizon, we anticipate the ETF and advisor markets to continue their migration to digital distribution over the next year.”
Looking at the findings, despite the vast majority of advisors not working remotely before Covid-19, 83% of surveyed advisors said they would like to work at least 1 day a week from home permanently. 43% of advisors would like to work at least 3 days a week from home permanently.
Additionally, thanks to a newfound reliance on software such as Zoom (ZM), 64% of those surveyed said their relationships with clients haven’t changed due to working from home, with 18% noting how their client relationships have strengthened.
Considering how employees feel about the quality of their work, 78% of surveyed said they feel that their work from home productivity is Good or Excellent. 52% of surveyed continued to say they trusted ETF industry websites as their primary source for ETF research. Moreover, 85% had attended a virtual event, with 45% saying they had increased their reliance on webcasts.
“The shift in the broad economy towards work-from-home early in the year was swift,” recalls Rob Nestor, President at Direxion. “We saw the trend in our own business strongly enough to build new products to take advantage of that shift,” he continued, referring to the Direxion Work From Home ETF (WFH) launch earlier in 2020.
“We were curious to see how it was affecting the advisory business as well. The results from the survey clearly show that Advisors are being incredibly effective in this changing environment and leaning into the tools and resources that help them do their job without going to the office.”
Complete findings from the survey are available here.
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