Financial advisors will remember 2011 as “The Year of Volatility” or “The Year of Uncertainty,” according to a survey of 200 financial advisors polled this month by the SEI Advisor Network, an asset management and back-office administration service provider to financial advisors.

The majority of advisors said they communicated with clients more frequently and felt more pressure to keep clients satisfied in 2011 than in 2010, with clients’ need for more “personal communication” trumping the need for more “reporting” and “education.

Investors “aren’t just looking for more investment reports or lengthy documents explaining the current status of the financial markets,” said Patrick Tucker, principal at Meridian Management, Inc., in Omaha, Neb., in a statement. “First and foremost, they want personal communication – direct contact through calls, emails, and meetings – with their financial advisor about issues that matter like the status of their goals, personal situation and plans for the future.”

Advisors said that the market volatility made many of their clients realize they weren’t as risk tolerant as they thought. More than half said that their clients’ mindset could best be described as “apprehensive.”

Four in 10 advisors said that the issue of global instability dominated client conversations the most, more so than the possibility of another market correction, implications of the federal deficit or retirement issues. Europe – not the U.S. or China – was the area of greatest concern for the majority of advisors. 

Despite the uncertain market, four in 10 advisors said their firm grew by more than 10% in 2011 in net new assets. Twelve percent said their firm grew by more than 20%. 

Margarida Correia writes for Bank Investment Consultant.