Pay Decreased, But Satisfaction Still Strong Among Financial Planners
Despite the hit that financial planners took to their wallets due to the recent turmoil in the financial markets and its impact on their practices, 94% of financial planners say they are either satisfied or very satisfied with their financial planning careers, according to a recent study by the College for Financial Planning.

The 2011 Survey of Trends in Financial Planning, published this spring by the Greenwood Village, Colo.-based provider of financial industry education programs, provides a snapshot of compensation, business models, age demographics and other tidbits among 345 total respondents, all of whom hold the CFP designation.

In the satisfaction department, 59% of respondents said they were very satisfied with their careers, while 35% were plain satisfied. The four biggest drivers of satisfaction were helping clients improve their lives, tackling the challenge of solving client problems, interacting with clients, and being an entrepreneur. The least satisfying aspects of their jobs were new business prospecting and professional liability.

Regarding compensation, the survey found that average annual gross earnings among planners fell to $190,922 from $215,345 in 2009 (the most recent survey) and $195,394 in 2008. The shortfall is attributed in large part to decreased revenues during the downturn as asset values in many client portfolios dropped in tandem with the markets.

But during each of the past three surveys gross earnings rose significantly in the year after someone earned their CFP marks.
Among other findings, the survey shows a shift from a fee-only business model (17%, down from 26% in 2009 and 30% in 2008 ) to a fee and commission approach (60%, down from 62% in 2009 but up from 43% in 2008). Among respondents, the commission-only model registered just 7%, down from 10% and 11% the past two survey years, respectively.

As for age demographics, 28.9% were ages 50 to 59 years, followed by ages 40 to 49 (24.3%) and ages 30 to 39 (22.8%). People in the 60 to 69 age bracket comprised 16% of responses, while planners who are 70 years or older were 1.9%. And to highlight the concern about the lack of new blood in a graying industry, just 6.1% of respondents were between the ages of 21 and 29.

Fiduciary Can Be Marketing Tool To Get HNW Clients
According to a recent survey, half of financial advisors who say they act as fiduciaries for their clients believe that having that standard of care in their corner helps them stand apart and attract new clients. Yet at the same time, roughly a quarter of them don't promote that angle in their marketing materials.

ByAllAccounts, the provider of account aggregation services that conducted the survey of 250 advisors, says that's a missed opportunity to attract new clients. The survey found roughly 53% of respondents agree that being associated with having fiduciary ethics is either an "extremely big" or "very big" differentiator for their practice. But about 27% of them don't mention their fiduciary bona fides when they promote their business.

"Why wouldn't you [promote it]?" asks Cynthia Stephens, vice president of marketing at ByAllAccounts. She says the survey didn't ask any open-ended questions, so she didn't have an answer to her question. But Stephens says advisors who act as fiduciaries shouldn't be shy about blowing their own horns about it. "Explaining in clear terms what it means for your clients that you have fiduciary responsibility provides a marketing opportunity for savvy advisors to attract HNW clients and increase AUM."

Americans Unconfident About Their Retirement
A recent survey of American attitudes about their retirement preparedness revealed a bad news/good news/bad news scenario. The first bad news is that workers' confidence in their ability to fund a comfortable retirement, as measured by an annual survey conducted by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, sank to the most pessimistic level in the survey's 21-year history. The good news is that more people have got their heads out of the sand and recognize their plight. The second bit of bad news is that too many people still aren't doing anything about it.

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