Advisors can stop spending time on fancy newsletters—clients prefer a simple, old-fashioned email, a recent survey found, and if advisors aren’t reaching out at all on a regular basis, their clients will turn to social media or other news sources to answer their questions and make decisions about their finances.

The survey found that clients under 60 years old and with more than $500,000 in assets were the most likely to make the change, and the three most important factors in advisor selection in 2022 were performance (78%), the availability of the advisor (77%) and the advisor having a deep understand of the client and the client’s goals (71%).

The survey, a pre- and post-pandemic comparison of advisor communication trends, was produced by YCharts, a Chicago-headquartered creator of research and presentation tools for financial advisors.

The company conducted its first survey in 2019 to gauge how clients felt about the level of communication they were receiving from their advisors and whether that impacted the relationship enough to consider switching to a new advisor. The firm repeated the survey late last year.

By comparison, in 2019 the three most important factors were the advisor having a deep understand of the client and the client’s goals (69%), customer service/communication (60%) and portfolio performance (53%).

“Given the market conditions witnessed in 2022, these findings are especially understandable for those with more at stake,” the survey concluded. The way an advisor communicates with their clients remained in second place across both surveys.

In general, more than half of clients with more than $500,000 to manage (53.4%) wished their advisor reached out more frequently, and the survey found a marked connection between frequency of contact and client comprehension of their financial wellness.

Clients who said they were contacted infrequently or very infrequently averaged just 63.9% satisfaction with how well an advisor’s content resonates with them. That percentage rose to 73.3% for clients who said their advisor contacted them frequently or very frequently.

“It goes to show that frequent communication reinforces concepts discussed during client meetings, which can reduce further uncertainty down the line,” the survey stated.

And clients are very clear about how they like to hear from their advisors. Email is still the most preferred channel, as 73% of clients ranked it as such, followed by a phone call (45%), a text message (35.3%) and postal mail (21.8%). From there, all other options barely registered in the single digits, including newsletter, blog or website, Twitter, YouTube video, FaceBook/Instagram, LinkedIn and webinars.

The survey also revealed that clients are not all that discerning as to where they get their financial information from if their advisor isn’t readily available.

The advisor or investment account portal remains the first stop for clients when seeking information (73.3%). But after that, it’s social media (9.2%) and cable TV (12.8%). Premium content that clients would pay for, like Barron’s or the Wall Street Journal, came in dead last at 4.6%.

“Increased contact might help position an advisor as their client’s go-to resource, creating opportunities to add value and reducing the chance that their clients pursue potentially misleading advice from outside sources,” the survey said. “Additionally, about 90% of respondents indicated that they would like to receive more information about the market and economy from their advisor, suggesting that advisors can better position themselves as the primary source of truth and information.”

Virtual and digital trends were already in play prior to the pandemic, they just greatly accelerated. In 2019, 49.3% of clients met their advisor in-person only, while 38.2% met sometimes in-person and sometimes virtually, and the remaining 12.5% met virtually only.

In 2022, only 28% of clients are back to in-person meetings only, and only 20.3% are solely virtual. Most clients, 51.7%, use either option, depending on the situation.

“Additionally, responses indicate that Wirehouse advisors are prioritizing in-person meetings more so than their Broker-Dealer and independent advisor counterparts, who are more likely to favor a hybrid or virtual-only approach,” the survey found.

Some 671 clients across the country participated, with a range of ages and a range of assets, from less than $250,000 to more than $5 million. About 46% of the clients had an advisor at a wirehouse, 22% at an RIA, 16% at an independent broker-dealer, and 8% at an insurance broker-dealer. About 9% weren’t sure.