As a growing number of consumers are using digital tools to conduct business, financial advisors are taking heed and incorporating new technology to effectively engage with clients, according to a survey by LIMRA and Ernst & Young (EY).

In fact, 63 percent of consumers expect to conduct more of their financial business online in the next five years, the survey said.

Forty-six percent of advisors see digital solutions most helpful for marketing and client acquisition and 31 percent say the same for ongoing client engagement. Eleven percent uses it for financial planning, the survey said.

Advisors are increasingly supplementing their face-to-face client meetings with digital tools. Already, three in 10 advisors use virtual meetings to connect with their clients and 55 percent say they plan to use it more in the future, the survey said.

As for social media, about 40 percent of advisors use that platform to engage with clients and prospects, but almost half of, especially younger advisors, plan to use social media more in the future, the survey said. Advisors with three to nine years of experience expect to see their client roster more than double to 20 percent, from 8 percent, just three years from now.

Despite the digital revolution, advisors are finding it difficult to give up mail, according to the survey. LIMRA found that roughly eight in 10 advisors use mail to engage with clients and prospects, but four in 10 indicate that they will either use it less or not at all in the future. In-person interaction and telephone calls are still popular, the research showed. 

And while advisors are embracing technology, many are less than satisfied with current digital tools, whether from insurers or their distribution firms, the research showed. Twenty-seven percent of advisors said these tools are outdated, are of poor quality (23 percent) or don’t integrate well with their other systems (17 percent).

As for lead generation tools, more than half cited a lack of quality, saying the tools are too complicated, cumbersome or slow, or not advanced enough or outdated.

Among the other findings, almost four in 10 millennials prefer meeting with an agent or advisor virtually rather than in person; more than seven in 10 consumers indicate that they would like to educate themselves about insurance on an agent or advisor’s website; and four in 10 consumers are likely to check an agent’s or advisor’s social media presence and activities.

The online LIMRA-EY survey focused on 1,500 financial advisors from seven common insurance, investment and advisory practice models.