Main region

Trust and simplicity more valuable than product and investment advice when dealing with financial advisers

A research article commissioned by Australian Retirement Trust (ART), one of Australia’s largest super funds, has found that the skills clients value most in a financial adviser are simplicity, trust, and confidence to work in their best financial interest when seeking advice on retirement planning.

Research from the paper found that when measuring the value an adviser brings to a client, ‘acting in their best financial interest’ (82%) and ‘simplicity and trust’ (67%) rated higher than product advice (41%) and portfolio construction (26%)1.

The article, the ‘Art and Science of Trust’, launched by Ensombl, combines global and Australian research with insights from industry experts, thought leaders and financial advisers specialising in retirement. It aims to provide context and a practical framework for advisers to help build trusted client relationships.

Further findings from the article include:

  • Retirement is one of the most stressful times in life, ranking at number 10 of the 43 most stressful life events.2
  • Emotional trust has the greatest impact on overall trust in an adviser. It accounts for 53% of the trust people place in a financial adviser. After emotional trust is ethical trust (30%) and functional trust (17%).
  • Trust was found to increase with age, wealth, tenure, and financial literacy. This may suggest that the more time a client spends with an adviser, the more they come to understand and appreciate the value their adviser is adding, reinforcing trust in them.

ART’s Acting Chief of Retirement, Anne Fuchs, said the resource highlighted key areas of focus for financial advisers, beyond technical skills, to support clients approaching and in retirement.

“As people approach or start retirement, they may not only be worried about managing their finances, but also feel apprehensive about the end of a job or career, or the thought of having more time on their hands,” said Ms Fuchs.

“Australian Retirement Trust commissioned the ‘Art of science and trust’ resource to give advisers a better understanding of what members are feeling as they near retirement and what they’re seeking in a financial adviser at this particularly stressful point in their life.

“The findings within the report show that it’s not enough for financial advisers to simply do what they’re hired to do – provide financial advice. Advisers also need to deliver on emotional trust, ethical trust and functional trust to build long term client relationships.

“At Australian Retirement Trust, we genuinely believe in the power of financial advice to materially change people’s lives. We know that financial advice directly improves the financial literacy and wellbeing of members and leads to improved retirement outcomes.

“The release of this resource demonstrates the value we see in working in collaboration with external financial advisers to deliver retirement outcomes to our more than 2.2 million members,” she said.

The full article can be accessed here:

1. Research conducted by Australian Retirement Trust, August 2022, Advisers n=229, Advised members n=775.

2. The American Institute of Stress, Homes-Rahe Stress Inventory, accessed 11 July 2023 at