The study used surveys and interviews to assess the value clients placed on 24 key value attributes that could be categorized as either emotional or functional. Emotional attributes included factors such as "trusting that the advisor will put my needs first," the report said. Functional attributes included things such as maximizing investment returns and balanced saving and investing. About 2,000 investors involved in an advisor relationship were surveyed, Vanguard said.

Survey respondents revealed that a lot of what they value in advisors falls outside traditional benchmarks such as portfolio performance and into the realm of emotional satisfaction, the report's authors said. For example, clients placed high value on knowing their financial plans are regularly monitored by their advisors and on whether they had a personal connection with their advisors. They also are looking for regular proactive outreach from their advisors and reassurance from their advisors that things will be OK during market downturns, the report said.

"Relationship and rapport are important to perception," the report stated. "Financial advisors would fall short of their client’s expectations if they only highlight their investment expertise and portfolio outcomes. Just as important is for them to cultivate a deeper relationship with their clients."

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