Advisors are focusing on customer experience to retain clients, find prospects and thus increase their profitability, according to a survey by Jefferson National, a subsidiary of Columbus-based Nationwide.

In a survey of 779 advisors advisors and 817 investors in March and April, 86 percent of all respondents believed that customer experience will become more important for attracting and retaining new clients over the next year.

Client experience offers advisors an opportunity to add value to their firm’s offerings at a time when fee compression and regulatory pressures are constraining their ability to differentiate, said Mitchell Caplan, head of Nationwide's advisory solutions business.

"To gain new clients and earn more of their business, putting the client first is not just a regulatory requirement, it's a business necessity that is increasing in importance," said Caplan in a released statement.

Advisors and investors in the survey agreed that the two most important attributes of a successful customer experience are the quality of communication and establishing a personal, one-on-one relationship.

Ninety-four percent of advisors surveyed believed that customer experience is important to their value proposition, with most of them saying it improves retention and strengthens the overall advisor/client relationship.

Fewer advisors said that their client experience differentiates themselves from competitors and attracts new prospective clients.

Before client experience, however, Jefferson National believes that advisors must do more to establish trust in their relationships. Trust was identified as the single most important attribute in relationships by both advisors and investors, according to the survey.

Both advisors and investors rate communication the second most important attribute in their relationships, according to the survey. However, the groups diverged on the topic of performance: Investors were twice as likely as advisors to rate a proven track record as important to their advisory relationships.