There are evergreen issues that advisors worry about—like the state of the economy, the future movement of the markets and the ongoing struggle to stay compliant—but the latest TD Ameritrade Institutional Advisor Index study shows some surprising trends and counterintuitive strategies practiced by advisors.
For example, the Index’s survey of 502 RIAs (who custody at TDAI and other custodians) found that they were most concerned with regulatory changes, profitability and managing risk, defined as legal and compliance issues. But the areas of concern that showed the most growth since the second-quarter 2011 survey was business growth, operational efficiency and profitability.
Zohar Swaine, the RIA custodian’s managing director of institutional strategy, said in an pre-release interview on May 18 that concerns over business efficiency reflected the “fragmented industry,” and that RIAs themselves tend to be “relationship managers, not COOs.” There’s also an “interesting dynamic” exhibited by RIA firms as they reach the $300 million to $500 million in AUM range, Swaine points out: profitability drops off as they bring on additional personnel to cope with growth.
The concern with people issues was seen in another survey finding: 52% of respondents to the survey, which took place by phone from March 29 to April 9, said they use other advisors as a source to facilitate their HR management. Almost 40% of respondents said they were considering hiring additional staff within the ensuing 12 months, and 25% of those said they were specifically looking to hire a female advisor in a bid to attract and retain women investors.