The average financial advisor has 255 clients and thinks that is too many, a financial services firm says.

For the average advisor, the ideal number of clients is 228, according to Russell Investments, a unit of Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, Milwaukee.

Russell reports 50% of the 348 financial professionals it polled for its latest quarterly advisor survey want fewer clients. Those advisors have an average of 392 clients each and would like to cut the number down to 211.

But 43% of the advisors said they would like to have more clients. These advisors have an average of 140 clients, and they would like to increase the total to an average of 238.

Managing high client counts today may be more difficult today than it was a few years ago.

“Financial advisors are telling Russell that these are some of the most challenging years in their career because they are facing both declining revenue and a more demanding clientele, as well as extremely volatile markets,” the firm says. “In response, some advisors are taking a longer-term approach by transitioning their clients to a fee-based planning focus, while others are making short-term changes in response to investor demand for guaranteed income products and tactical market calls.”

Other survey results:

- 45% of the advisors said they are shifting transactional clients into fee-based accounts.

- 39% of the advisors said they are selling more annuities.

- 26% of the advisors are using new methods to hunt for prospects.

Most of the advisors already make at least some use of annuities, but, among those who do not, resistance to adding annuities to the product menu is high. Only “global strategies” ranked lower in terms of the percentage of advisors thinking about adding a product or strategy that they do not already offer.