(Related: Best Full-Service Investment Firms Ranked by Investors: J.D. Power — 2018)

According to the J.D. Power 2018 U.S. Financial Advisor Satisfaction Study, employee advisors are happier with their broker-dealers than they were a year ago. Their overall level of satisfaction, though, remains lower than that of their independent counterparts.

This year’s survey — which polled more than 3,225 financial advisors — finds that employee advisors give their broker-dealers an average satisfaction score of 726, up from 719 a year ago, on a scale of 1 to 1,000. Independent advisors say they are just slightly more pleased with their broker-dealers, giving them an average score of 753 in 2018 vs. 752 in 2017.

The study measures satisfaction in seven areas: client support, compensation, firm leadership, operational support, problem resolution and professional development.

Looking at how female employee advisors differ from male employee reps, the average overall satisfaction score is 786 among employee advisors — 59 points higher than among their male counterparts. In the independent channel, overall satisfaction among women is 793 — 39 points higher than among male advisors.

This translates into loyalty: 68% of female reps report they “definitely will” remain at the same firm over the next one to two years vs. 56% for male reps. There is a similar spread when asked if they definitely will recommend their firm to other advisors — 60% vs. 50%.

Still, about 30% of female reps surveyed report that they do not have an appropriate work/life balance, along with 22% of male reps. In addition, 90% of women who do have that balance say they “definitely will” recommend their firm, compared with 68% of those who do not.

Other findings revealed in the latest J.D. Power study are that female advisors are less likely than men to say they “completely” understand their compensation — 60% vs. 66%, respectively — and they are less likely to believe it reflects their job performance, 60% vs. 68%, respectively.

Furthermore, female reps are less likely than male reps to believe mentoring programs are effective — 44% vs. 53%, respectively.

“The wealth management industry clearly recognizes that aligning the gender mix of advisors with the shifting demographics of investors is critical for their success,” according to Mike Foy, director of the wealth management practice at J.D. Power. “But firms that want to be leaders in attracting and retaining top female talent need to differentiate on recognizing and addressing those areas that women’s perceptions and priorities may differ from men’s.”

Check out the gallery to see which employee and independent broker-dealers have the most satisfied advisors in 2018.

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