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How Indie Advisors Can Get More Love (and Service) From Their Firms

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More than ever, it’s common for bandwidth-constrained independent financial advisors to feel that they need “more” from their broker-dealer:  more in terms of attention, responsiveness and resources.

Unfortunately, advisors frequently ask for “more” in ways that don’t elicit the best response from their firms. The reality is that getting the most out of a relationship between an advisor and a broker-dealer falls as much on the advisor as it does on the firm.

And the good news is that there are three very specific ways for advisors to get the most out of any potential request they want to make of their broker-dealer for more attention or services, as follows:

1. Contextualize your requests by making a meaningful business case

It’s crucial for advisors to weave into any major request of their broker-dealer key proof points about their own contributions to the firm’s performance, encompassing factors such as annual production/fees and commissions/GDC, client assets, recurring fee-based advisory revenues, and year-over-year growth in these numbers.

Next, it’s important for the advisor to include details on why the broker-dealer’s current offering is insufficient, and exactly how granting this request would directly support the advisor’s performance and business growth.

Again, use numbers to detail realistic forecasts and industry comparisons on key performance metrics for yourself and the firm.

At the end of the day, broker-dealers of all sizes seek to recruit and retain the 20% of advisors who will provide 80% of their revenues.

Advisors who take the time to detail how the broker-dealer’s investment in a requested tool or set of resources will make them one of these most desired advisors, or reinforce their existing position within this advisor segment, will find their requests are taken much more seriously from the outset.

2. Correlate your ask with knowledge of the broker-dealer’s strategy and solutions

Advisors making a significant request for new resources or support from their firms are more likely to get a receptive audience from the outset if their request reflects clear and detailed knowledge on the firm’s most current practices and strategic thinking.

There are two ways to do this:  First, don’t be hesitant about using your firm’s marketing and research materials, as well as conversations with compliance and product specialists as references to further contextualize any request.

Second, fly the flags and show a presence when it comes to participating in your firm’s networking and business coaching programs, and attending your firm’s regional and national conferences.  Reference information picked up from these venues as context wherever appropriate

3. Identify professional organizations that fill the void, and tell your broker-dealer about them.

Large firms with over 10,000 advisors have a practical obligation to manage their field force with uniform policies that promote speed and certainty over customization of services.

On the other hand, smaller broker-dealers may offer a personalized touch with certain services, but the absence of robust layers of middle management means that the demands of top-producing advisors take overwhelming priority when home office support teams are busy.

Because your broker-dealer cannot comply with every advisor’s request for more, no matter how well articulated, it’s up to you and your peers to fill the void by joining the proper external professional organizations.

Advisors can cobble together enhanced education, investment products, technology, back-office support, camaraderie and more by joining an assortment of niche organizations.

Alternatively, advisors could also join a single professional organization, if they determine that such a group checks all the required boxes while also being compatible with their existing broker-dealer.

Keep a running log of the organizations you join and how their solutions have helped your business, and share this information with your firm on a regular basis.

At a minimum, if your firm notices that multiple advisors are leveraging a specific professional organization for certain solutions, it’s possible that your firm could bring the organization’s solutions onto its platform, and negotiate a lower fee for all advisors who are using those solutions.

Part of the Indie Adventure

The inherent drive for freedom that runs deep in the independent financial advice space is a wonderful thing, especially when it translates into stronger relationships between firms and advisors, with advisors getting the attention and services they want and need.

Independent financial advisors who are willing to provide data-driven details on their performance and growth projections, dive deep in understanding what their broker-dealers are doing and research what the broader industry has to offer, could achieve a new level of success in partnership with the firms that support them.


Derek Bruton is President of Chalice Wealth Advisors and Chalice Capital Partners, subsidiaries of Chalice Wealth Partners, a provider of technology and business solutions to independent wealth managers


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