Financial Advisory Services Exploring relationships between consumers and financial advisors
Abstract: The need for more knowledge about different aspects of financial advisory services has been highlighted by scholars of many disciplines, and calls for more in-depth studies of this practice have been put forward. The purpose of this thesis is to answer this call and, thereby, enhance knowledge about financial advisory services and the provision and receipt of advice occurring in a face-to-face encounter between a professional advisor and a consumer. The thesis consists of five papers in which different methodological and theoretical lenses are applied to the study of the practice. A mixed methods approach is applied to the object of study—financial advisory services. This approach entails using qualitative methods to analyze video-recorded interviews and quantitative methods to analyze survey data. The qualitative methods are used primarily to generate new constructs and ideas, whereas quantitative methods are used more to confirm and deepen the knowledge of constructs and relationships.The findings show that there are important aspects of financial advisory services that have been previously neglected. The characteristics of both consumers and advisors, as tested from the aspect of gender, are shown to have importance for both consumer and advisor perceptions of different aspects of core elements of financial advisory services. Focusing on the micro-foundations of the relationship between customer and advisor in financial advisory services reveals the importance of mirroring for customers in perceiving a relationship. Two types of interactions that customers do not consider to be relationships are identified. Scholars have referred to occasions in which customers are too trusting as “the dark side of trust”, meaning that the customer becomes less actively involved in the relationship with increasing advisor trust. Applying a concept borrowed from psychotherapy—working alliance—has opened up possibilities for further exploration of the inner workings of the financial advisory session. This thesis proposes and tests the concept of a working alliance as a way of enhancing theory and, thereby, the understanding of relationships between consumers and service providers.The results of this thesis have implications for theory by contributing to the understanding of relationships. The implications for policymakers, the industry, and advisors and customers are many. Exploring the practice of financial advisory services lays the groundwork for discussions on, and elaborations of, regulations, educational programs, and hiring practices within the industry, as well as on financial literacy programs directed toward consumers.
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