No matter what size a financial advisory firm is now, bigger seems to be better for 2016, according to a study by Scottrade Advisor Services released Thursday.
Today’s financial advisors are focused on growth and technology for the new year over client services and operations, according to the 2015 Registered Investment Advisor Study of 373 independent advisors.
“There is a changing landscape for advisors,” says Brian J. Stimpfl, senior vice president and head of Scottrade Advisor Services. “Our survey bore out what I have been hearing: Advisors want to focus on growth.
“They clearly understand that providing exceptional client service is imperative, yet many are also looking to expand their business by optimizing technology and talent management,” he says.
Advisors were asked what they would do if they had an extra dollar to invest in their business, and 38 percent said they would use it to grow their business. The study broke advisory firms down into ones with $10 million to $100 million in AUM, those with $100 million to $500 million and those with $500 million or more. The sentiment to grow the firm’s size was shared across the spectrum, Scottrade says.
Adding to technology came in a strong second for all three groups, possibly as a complement to the desire to grow. Smaller-firm owners expressed concern about integrating the various forms of technology.
Third place for that extra dollar went to employee and talent management for the smallest and largest firms, while those in the middle voted to put the extra money into client services.
Scottrade has about 1,000 independent advisors working under their own brands. There will be a place in the future for firms of all sizes, including the small ones, Stimpfl says. “Technology is the great equalizer. It allows smaller firms to provide good client services and to differentiate themselves.”
Advisors’ main concern about adding new technology is integrating it with their existing programs, 49 percent of the advisors say. An almost equal number (46 percent) are concerned with staying up to date with the swiftly changing technology.
Stimpfli points out that, surprisingly, the third-highest concern at 45 percent of advisors is that clients may not use the technology or may not understand it. An advisor’s time and money are wasted if clients do not benefit from the technology, he says.