Successful financial advisors focus on making exceptional hiring decisions and staying ahead of the competition on technology, according “Successful Advisors: The Year Over Year Trends,” an Advisor Authority study released Monday.

The study, by Nationwide Advisory Solutions, shows that successful advisors put adding staff and technology above attracting new clients, according to the survey of nearly 1,021 advisors and 824 investors. Advisor Authority defines successful advisors as those earn a personal annual income of $500,000 or more from their advisory business, or individually manage a total AUM of $250 million or more.

Advisor Authority is an annual report compiled by Nationwide Advisory Solutions, which works with RIAs and independent advisors to help build their practices.

Although most of the general population of advisors put acquiring new clients as their top priority, “successful advisors stay a step ahead of all other advisors and diversify their plans for profitability by putting more importance on adding new hires (22% of successful advisors compared to 11% of all advisors) and consolidating technology (21% compared to 15%).”

“Year-over-year data shows that successful advisors have consistently relied less on adding new clients than all other advisors (37% of successful advisors compared to 46% of all advisors),” the report said. Successful advisors integrate artificial intelligence, interactive websites, client portals, mobile apps, tax optimization tools and account aggregation systems into their practices.

Successful advisors put their clients first, which starts with adhering to a stated fiduciary standard, Nationwide said. Eighty-two percent of successful advisors feel there should be a single federal fiduciary standard for the financial industry, compared to 74% of all advisors.

Creating an exceptional client experience is a priority for successful advisors. From the first contact with a new client, to daily communications and their annual review, successful advisors leverage technology to enhance the experience for their clients and use technology to protect clients against market risk and to provide them with more holistic planning, the study said.

“Year over year, Advisor Authority has shown that the RIAs and fee-based advisors poised to succeed in the face of increasing competition and the complex dynamics of today’s uncertain world, are those who can differentiate themselves by adopting new technology, adapting to new trends and, perhaps most importantly, putting clients first,” said Craig Hawley, head of Nationwide Advisory Solutions.