T. Rowe Price Highest in Satisfaction with Investment Call Centers among Younger Generations, Charles Schwab Leads among Older Generations

During December 2010 and January 2011, Prime Performance surveyed 2,359 clients who had recently spoken with a call center representative at one of nine major investment firms. The firms include: E*TRADE, Fidelity, JP Morgan Chase, Merrill Lynch, Charles Schwab, T. Rowe Price, TD Ameritrade, Vanguard and Wells Fargo/Wachovia.

Satisfaction by Generation

According to the study, the greatest differences in satisfaction with service levels are by age. Generation Y (“Gen Y”) are the least satisfied, with a Net Satisfaction Score of 53% (59% satisfied and 6% dissatisfied), well below the average of 71%. Generation X (“Gen X”) have a Net Satisfaction Score of 70% (73% satisfied and 3% dissatisfied), Boomers have a Net Satisfaction Score of 78% (81% satisfied and 3% dissatisfied), and Pre-Boomers are the most satisfied with a score of 80% (82% satisfied and 2% dissatisfied). Some firms scored better in certain age brackets than others. Among Gen Y and Gen X clients, T. Rowe Price scored the highest with a Net Satisfaction Score of 78%, compared to an industry average for this age group of 64%. They were followed by Vanguard, 75%, and TD Ameritrade, 73%. Among Boomers and Pre-Boomers, Charles Schwab had the highest Net Satisfaction Score at 87%, followed by E*TRADE and T. Rowe Price at 85% and 82%, respectively.




Satisfaction by Education

Satisfaction falls slightly with higher level of education. Clients with a high school or associates degree had a Net Satisfaction Score of 73%, some college, 72%, college degree, 69% and post graduate education, 69%. Among Boomers and Pre-Boomers, it appears that satisfaction does decline as education level increases, but this is no correlation among Gen X and Gen Y. Gen X and Gen Y do make up a higher proportion of the higher education categories, which pulls those scores down.


Range of Competitive Products

Clients believe Charles Schwab leads in offering a full range of completive products. Seventy-six percent of the Schwab clients surveyed rated Schwab a 6 or 7 and only 3% rated the firm a 1, 2 or 3. This results in a net score of 73%, well above the industry average of 64%. TD Ameritrade came in second with a net score of 71%, followed by Fidelity at 70%.


Asking Questions about Financial Needs

Clients feel better about the service they receive when representatives are effective at asking questions about clients’ financial needs. Sixty percent of clients said the representative was effective at asking questions (score of 6 or 7), and 89% of these clients were satisfied with the overall service they received during the call and 0% were dissatisfied. Eight percent of clients felt the representative was not effective at asking questions and of these, 28% were satisfied with the service on the call and 27% were dissatisfied. Charles Schwab scored the highest with a net score of 60% for asking questions about financial needs, followed by Wells Fargo/Wachovia at 55% and Merrill Lynch at 54%. The industry average net score is 52%.



Generational differences create a new challenge for investment firm call centers. While Gen Y is often considered the online generation, this study shows that they are also calling their investment firms. Gen Y is a generation that has high expectations and can be difficult to satisfy. As they age and their wealth and investable assets increase, they will become an extremely important segment to investment firms. While in some areas of the business, serving Gen Y requires a different approach and strategy, this is not completely true for inbound phone calls from Gen Y. Once on the phone with the representative, their needs are not that different from older generations, but they expect a much higher level of execution. Creating a positive emotional experience is important for all generations, but much more so for Gen Y. Firms that can meet their expectations will be well positioned for the future.


Send an email to Jim S Miller, the author of this post, at jim.miller@primeperformance.net.


A detailed report summarizing the results from the Prime Performance 2011 Investment Call Center Satisfaction Survey is available for $3,995. Click here to review the table of contents from this 109-page detailed report.

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