The need for financial advice is rising and investors are willing to pay for it, despite the pricing pressure in the wealth management space.

Investors want more advice than before, according to The U.S. Retail Investor Advice Relationships 2020: Accentuating the Value of Advice, a Cerulli report that found 56% of its respondents are willing to pay for professional advice, up from 51% in 2019.

Most advised clients (82%) believe that the advice they are receiving is worth the price, according to the report. Cerulli expects the costs of underlying investments to continue to decrease while advisory fee levels remain more resistant to erosion.

Investors have become weary of the ongoing Covid-19 crisis and economic challenges and are willing to engage in paid advice relationships, said Scott Smith, director at Cerulli, adding that this is the perfect environment to expand the role of truly comprehensive financial advice relationships.

And advisors are stepping it up and proving their value.“Increases in satisfaction during the uncertainty brought on by 2020, paired with very small increases in dissent, suggest that investors are content with their advice relationships, the report said, and that the quality of advice has remained high, noting that 80% of investors express satisfaction with their current advisor, and just 1% indicate dissatisfaction.

Clients indicated that they are satisfied in their relationships with advisors, giving them high marks for transparency, honesty and dependability. “By keeping clients abreast of market developments, while also lending a crucial empathetic ear, advisors reinforce their importance to clients and the value inherent in personalized advice relationships,” Smith said.

Connecting digitally with clients is the next crucial step in the evolution of financial advice, according to the report. The availability of digital tools will enable them to engage in comprehensive planning, which will result in client-centered advisory relationships.

Digital tools such as data aggregation, artificial intelligence, and client portal technology have the potential to differentiate the client experience, said Cerulli, while striking the right balance between simplicity and sophistication of analysis. It, however, cautioned that enterprise scale will be a challenge for providers to overcome.

“To become a leader in next-generation advice, platform providers must ensure that their starting point is a client experience that tracks a path of least resistance through which incremental elements can be added based on client demand,” Smith said.