It is common industry practice for providers to offer value-added programs for advisors who sell their products, but many are struggling to understand the types of services that advisors view as most important. When Cogent asked advisors directly how they would define a "value-added program," 27% said business-building/help build business and 20% indicated educational programs. Interestingly, almost one in 10 (9%) believe "value-add" is meaningless industry jargon.

Advisors report that they will most likely use value-added programs that address issues like best practices in retirement income development, information on maximizing income in a low-interest rate environment, and ways to help clients understand market volatility and risk management. Traditional materials are considered value-added "table stakes," while programs and topics that cover specific business-building and investment concerns are likely to differentiate provider value-added programs and services.