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Advisors' top priority in 2014: practice growth

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Growing a book of business by acquiring new clients is judged a primary area of focus in 2014 by 70 percent of financial advisors, according new research.

Russell Investments discloses this finding in its latest edition of its “Financial Professional Outlook.” The quarterly snapshot of advisor sentiment canvassed the opinions of 257 financial advisors working for more than 120 national, regional and independent advisory firms nationwide.

The survey respondents point to other priorities among their top three areas to focus on this year, including:

  • Improving client relationships and client retention – 57 percent;
  • Managing the business or activities more efficiently - 46 percent;
  • Growing a book of business by acquiring new assets from existing clients - 42 percent;
  • Improving client communications or meetings - 30 percent;
  • Improving investment performance - 17 percent;
  • Improving new investment solutions or tools - 17 percent;
  • Changing the composition of one’s client base - 7 percent.

“All of these activities take time and time is often in short supply for dedicated advisors,” the report states. “So how can advisors grow their books while serving clients well?

“In our practice management works, we see a high degree of correlation between strong client service and generous client referrals,” the report adds. “What’s more, we also see increased organic growth when advisors deepen their current client relationships. And it makes perfect sense. In many cases, strong client relationships may lead to a stronger book of business.”

The report adds that advisor optimism fell to 79 percent this quarter from 83 percent last quarter. But advisors also note that investor optimism improved, increasing to 36 percent from 31 percent.

Among the top concerns initiated by advisors in discussions with clients are these:

  • Portfolio rebalancing/shifting a portfolio’s asset allocation - 40 percent;
  • Portfolio performance - 32 percent;
  • Running of money in retirement - 19 percent;
  • Concerns with government policy - 33 percent; and
  • Market fluctuations - 17 percent.


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