Survey Shows Many Advisors Grew in 2011, Despite Volatility

Advisor poll finds 40% boosted their firms' net new assets by more than 10% in 2011, and 12% expanded their practices by more than 20%

Advisors communicated with clients more frequently and felt more pressure to keep clients satisfied in 2011 vs. 2010, according to the results of an SEI Quick Poll released Thursday. And while 2011 was a year of worry for both investors and advisors, it was also an opportunity: 40% of advisors surveyed said their firms grew by more than 10% in 2011 in terms of net new assets, and 12% said their practices expanded by more than 20%.

“Everyone knows the market volatility unnerved investors in 2011. But, in reality, it also rattled financial advisors as well,” said Steve Onofrio, managing director of the SEI Advisor Network, in a press release. “While some were distracted by the market volatility, the best advisors continued to focus on what investors want and need–personal communication. And it isn’t simply a matter of increasing communication; advisors also need to focus on delivering quality content in a consistent and deliberate manner.”

Due to intense market volatility, advisors said many clients realized “they’re not as risk tolerant as they originally thought,” according to the SEI poll, which was conducted in December and included the views of 200 financial advisors.

The results also showed that a large number of advisors, 53%, believe their clients’ mindset could best be described as “apprehensive,” and managing volatility was the most popular investment strategy in 2011.

“The past few years have had a profound impact on investors and what they are looking for,” said advisor Patrick Tucker, a principal at Meridian Management Inc. in Omaha, Neb., in a statement. “They aren’t just looking for more investment reports or lengthy documents explaining the current status of the financial markets.

“While they value these things,” Tucker continued, “first and foremost they want personal communication–direct contact through calls, emails, and meetings–with their financial advisor about issues that matter like the status of their goals, personal situation and plans for the future. Advisors who step up and meet the challenge will be successful in 2012.”

In 2011, nearly half (45%) of advisors surveyed said their top priority was to “strengthen existing client relationships.” Half said they “made great progress” on their top priority, while roughly one-third (38%) said they took “a few steps forward and a few steps back.”

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