Of all the things this industry remembers about these past 16 months, one thing should stand out: Great advisors took the opportunity to demonstrate value to their clients.

Through our Celebrating Advice initiative, we’ve heard amazing stories from advisors who went the extra mile to help clients feel comfortable with the state of their investments, and provide perspective and assurance about ways investors could still achieve long-term goals – or to realistically modify those dreams where necessary.

And – as evinced by our 2009 Dollars & Sense survey of Canadian investors – that increased contact and focus paid off.

It found a full 67% of respondents saying “a periodic/annual review of my plans or accounts” was the most important thing they received from an advisor. Or, as Dollars & Sense roundtable participant Kathleen Peace, CFA, CFP, with Bennett March of IPC Investment Corp. in Toronto, put it, “The plan is the most important part; and what got us through last fall.”

Meanwhile, when asked what cues indicate an advisor is engaged, 33% of investor respondents say they look for good communication (defined as regular phone calls and follow-ups). Giving good information and explanations scored 20%, while “answers my questions” and “makes eye contact” received 14% and 12% respectively.

The survey also picked up on a shift in how households make investment decisions. At the outset of the survey, respondents were asked whether they make the majority of financial decisions within their households or share that duty. For 2009, 54% of respondents report sharing the financial decision-making, compared with 51% in 2008.

While three percentage points isn’t seismic, it does indicate a trend (especially when you consider that among the 43% who make most of their own decisions, there are likely quite a few single-person households).

Anecdotally, advisors consistently say proper balancing of a couple’s priorities is a challenge, and that achieving success in this area is highly rewarding. So a trend toward couples sharing the planning tasks means advisors will increasingly need to work with multiple mindsets. Such scenarios will test their skills at explaining complex investment concepts, but this past year has provided plenty of training.

More survey results and information about methodology can be found throughout this issue. And, as always, we look forward to hearing your perspectives and anecdotes about how the numbers compare with your own practices.

Originally published in Advisor's Edge