Advisers have less patience for long and drawn out meetings with relationship managers over videoconferencing platforms like zoom than they do when meeting “belly to belly”, which could force a massive rethink in the way product providers and licensees go about their business according to consultancy firm Business Health.

New research reveals what Business Health partner Rod Bertino calls a “disconnect” between advisers, who want short and sharp videoconferencing meetings, and relationship managers who want more time engaging with their clients.

“Seventy percent of advisers want zoom calls with managers to be under 30 minutes,” Bertino tells Professional Planner. “But only 50 per cent of managers said they want less than 30 per cent.”

Bertino says the preference of advisers for less chit-chat won’t go unnoticed by providers and licensees.

“The strategically important thing is how they’re going to foster and build relationships with a different medium and a lot less time,” Bertino says. “It’ll be very interesting to see what that means in terms of the engagement models moving forward.

“It’s a relatively new medium and it’s different to the belly to belly approach,” he continues. “BDMs and PDMs are going to need to get proficient in developing relationships in shorter timespans.”

The Business Health research was split across Business Development Managers (BDMs) that work for fund managers, life insurance companies and investment platforms, and the Practice Development Managers (PDMs) who carry out business development and support duties on behalf of licensees.

Both these groups – collectively referred to as ‘managers’ in the report – are shown to be significantly out of step with advisers in several key areas.

For example, while 65 per cent of managers reported making more contact with advisers during the pandemic, only 41 per cent of advisers said they received more contact.

Similarly, while 47 per cent of BDMs believe they have added significant value to their advisers, only 19 per cent of advisers believe they have received significant value from their BDM.

Bertino break down the adviser perspective further, revealing 29 per cent of advisers thought their licensee manager was extremely valuable while 13 per cent said their product manager was extremely valuable. This is less of an indictment against BDMs, Bertino says, and more of a reflection on the need for advisers to focus squarely on their “staff, clients and businesses” during the pandemic – areas he says lend themselves to “PDM-type support”.

The partner says Business Health conducted the study to find out how managers were performing in what are unprecedented market conditions. “As we say in the report the conditions that COVID-19 have generated are very unique,” he says.

In the only qualitative element of the research, advisers were asked where they believe they could get more help from relationship managers. “Three or four key themes” emerged from this, Bertino says, one of which pertained to PDMs specifically.

“Advisers told us that their licensee manager can best add value in the coming 3 to 6 months as we hopefully emerge from COVID-19 by sharing best practice tips and ideas, what’s working well for others, how to take advantage of new technologies, and – perhaps not unexpectedly – making sure advisers are across the latest regulatory and governance requirements.”

On the product side, and perhaps more surprisingly, Bertino explained that advisers were looking for market investment commentary from product providers, as well as updates on product changes and enhancements.

“With the market volatility we’ve seen and are likely to see again the advisers rightly want to keep their clients abreast,” he explains. “They might not be best placed to provide that so they’re looking at experts to help.”

Tahn Sharpe is a Sydney-based financial services journalist with a background in financial planning. He writes on advice, superannuation, investment, banking and insurance issues, is a certified SMSF Adviser and holds an Advanced Diploma of Financial Planning. Contact at
One comment on “Less ‘belly to belly’ talk forces BDMs to cut to the chase”
  1. Avatar Jeremy Wright

    BDM’s have always been a good resource when there are roadblocks that are caught up in red tape and inefficiencies.

    Advisers are not so interested in chit chat as they do not have time.

    What advisers are interested in, are ways to create efficiencies that will help generate and retain existing revenues.

    There are Platforms that can help in this area, especially in the Life Insurance area, which the Life Insurance Companies desperately need, though unfortunately have not put resources towards.

    A BDM will have willing audiences if their focus is towards helping advice practices write more Business and retain existing revenue streams.

    There has been a surge of efficiency gains in many areas, though a lack of direct revenue gain efficiencies that a BDM can take to advisers.

    The Life Insurers know of an excellent, proven Platform, that has had incredible results for the limited practices that have used it.

    They need to allow their BDM’s to take that offer to advice practices and watch the difference in the response and dramatic increase in Life Insurance premiums, which creates their much needed revenues.

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