Eighty-four percent of some of the biggest U.S. financial advisory firms did not change their pricing last year, according to a survey conducted at Pershing Advisor Solutions’ late winter Elite Advisor Summit.
Moreover, 58% of attendees in the poll reported that their clients were not increasing pressure to reduce fees.
Among the few who reported that they had changed fees last year, 10% increased them.
Three in five survey respondents said offering holistic wealth management services — including estate and tax planning and private banking — was the most important factor in giving them better pricing power in the market. One in three said strong brand recognition was the most important factor.
“Our experience is that those advisors who demonstrate value beyond asset management and basic investment counseling not only maintain prices but are also better positioned to drive growth in the long term,” Gabriel Garcia, managing director at BNY Mellon’s Pershing Advisor Solutions, said in a statement.
The CFA Institute recently found that fee disclosure was key to client trust, but less than half of clients were satisfied with that aspect of the advisor relationship.
In addition, a new report said the traditional asset-based fee model for wealth managers was showing its age.
The average assets under management of the 71 advisors at Pershing’s invitation-only summit had an average of $4.2 billion in assets under management. Thirty-one attendees responded to the online survey.
Seventy-four percent of elite advisors said tax planning was currently driving their business, while 61% said it was alternative investments and the same percentage said philanthropic investments. Private banking solutions was the key driver for 52% of respondents’ business.
“Increasingly, these advisors are looking at the entire balance sheet and income statement of clients to identify ways to optimize their wealth,” Garcia said. “In that regard, it is not surprising to see tax planning, along with private banking, jump to the top of this list.”
He said growing interest in alternative and philanthropic investments reflected investors’ search for new investment strategies both to help preserve and grow wealth and build a lasting legacy.
Indeed, 77% of advisors surveyed said alternatives were likely to experience the biggest increase in portfolio allocation this year, followed by 55% who said index funds and 45% who said emerging market equities.
The poll found that marketing may become advisory firms’ biggest growth driver in 2018. Twenty-nine percent of respondents said developing a robust branding and marketing strategy would give the biggest boost to their growth prospects.
Another 26% said implementing new technologies and solutions would drive growth this year.
As to elite advisors’ biggest challenge in 2018, “Talent shortage is the single biggest threat to our industry,” Pershing’s chief executive, Mark Tibergien, said in the statement.
Thirty-six percent of survey respondents agreed that hiring and developing talent was the biggest issue for their business.
“Today’s workforce is looking for job opportunities that offer a clear career path, a strong workplace culture and ongoing development opportunities,” Tibergien said. “Growth-minded advisory firms need to do more to invest in the future and develop a human capital strategy that will help attract those with a passion for impacting the lives of others.”
— Check out It Pays to Be an Advisor on ThinkAdvisor.