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.”

Executive News Raymond James says that executives Scott Curtis, Tash Elwyn and Jodi Perry will be assuming new responsibilities at the firm. The shifts are related to COO Dennis Zank’s retirement, set for Sept. 30.

Curtis, head of the independent-advisor channel, now leads the firm’s broader Private Client Group. Elwyn, currently in charge of the employee channel, is being tapped as president and CEO of Raymond James & Associates’ broker-dealer, adding regulatory oversight and reporting tasks to his role.

“Scott and Tash have both done an outstanding job leading our PCG business — attracting and retaining many of the profession’s leading financial advisors and supporting their clients,” according to Chairman and CEO Paul Reilly. “With Scott’s deep experience and institutional knowledge, we are excited for his potential to drive cross-organizational leadership and continued success for our wealth management business.”

Prior to his current role, Curtis was a senior vice president of RJA PCG for six years. Earlier, he supported both domestic PCG businesses as president of the firm’s insurance group, Planning Corporation of America (now Raymond James Insurance Group). He joined the firm 15 years ago from GE Financial.

Elwyn has been president of RJA PCG since January 2012. He is also on the board of Raymond James Bank and Raymond James Investment Services. Earlier, Elwyn was divisional director, senior vice president of the Atlantic Division of RJA for five years. He began his Raymond James career in 1993.

Perry, national director of Raymond James Financial Services’ independent contractor division, is becoming the entity’s president. She will continue to report to Curtis. She has been in a variety of leadership roles in Asset Management Services and in RJFS business development and regional management since starting her career with Raymond James in 1994.

“In her expanded leadership role, I’m confident Jodi will effectively lead the continued growth and success of the RJFS independent contractor division and further enhance the support and resources provided to independent financial advisors and branch professionals affiliated with our firm,” Curtis said.

Raymond James has some 7,600 advisors of which 4,550 are independent registered reps. In other news, Commonwealth Financial Network says President and COO Rich Hunter will leave the firm at year-end, when CFO Trap Kloman will take on his roles. Hunter has been with the RIA for about 30 years and will remain one of its 13 managing partners. Kloman joined Commonwealth in 2015 after working at LPL Financial for 10 years, according to his LinkedIn profile.

“We on the executive management team are so grateful for the years we’ve spent working with Rich — and excited to know we can continue to benefit from his ongoing guidance in his new role of president emeritus,” CEO Wayne Bloom said in a statement. “His continued involvement, along with his passing the reins to Trap, is a win-win for Commonwealth and our advisors.”

The firm, which was founded in 1979, supports about 1,800 independent financial advisors nationwide.

“In just three years, Trap has made enormous contributions to both Commonwealth and our advisors, instituting innovative operational efficiencies and helping to ensure that resources are available to support the continued growth of our advisors’ businesses,” added Bloom. As for Hunter, he said he is looking forward to what he calls his “next phase” for stepping away from day-to-day managerial operations of the firm and contributing “in other ways I’m equally passionate about.”

Janet Levaux is editor-in-chief of Investment Advisor and Research on Wealth. She can be reached at jlevaux@alm.com.