The competition is only getting fiercer among financial advisors, and those who don’t strive to always improve will fall behind. That’s the message coming out of the “Fidelity Inside Track” conference in Boston this week.

“We’re in a highly competitive market,” said conference participant Bob Oros, EVP of sales and relationship management for Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services. “RIAs are competing against more than 20,000 other RIAs firms and an additional 750,000 registered reps. The firms that are focused on the ‘whole’ of their practices -- from marketing, to training, to culture -- will be best positioned to stand out.”

Benchmarking Your Organization

There really is no secret sauce for a successful advisory practice, yet very few advisors are great at doing all the things they need to do.

Mathias Hitchcock, vice president at Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services, spoke at the conference about “high-performing” firms, sharing insights from Fidelity’s last RIA benchmarking study.

He started by telling attendees, “Comparing yourself is good. It is healthy.” It gives advisors meaningful points of reference, he noted.

Fidelity defines “high performing” with three criteria: a firm’s growth, profitability and productivity. The top 20 percent of advisors are seen as having 70 percent higher growth, 50% higher profit margins and 30% higher productivity per full-time employee. Depending on the size of the firm, that can mean the difference in millions of dollars in profits.

What Top-Performing Firms Do Differently

For those firms that want to do better, there are six categories in which they can benchmark their success, according to Fidelity.

1. Asset growth. To grow in this area, firms should focus on their new business, client attrition and growth in client assets.