With the novel coronavirus raging across the U.S. at midyear, TD Ameritrade Institutional decided to ask independent RIAs how the pandemic was influencing their views on the economy, the outlook for their firms and the RIA market overall.
Fifty-eight percent of survey participants reported that they had continued to bring in new clients during the lockdown, with client bases increasing by some 6% during this time.
Forty-three percent said their assets under management had increased, by 8% on average, and 40% had seen revenue increase at a similar rate.
“The saying, ’Keep calm and carry on’ has served advisors well during these unprecedented times, as they help their clients — and themselves — make sense of, and adapt to, current events that are impacting their long-term goals,” Vanessa Oligino, managing director of business performance solutions for TD Ameritrade Institutional, said in a statement.
“The results show that investors want financial guidance they can trust, which is why RIAs are growing even as they are having to pivot rapidly and in some cases, rethink large portions of their operations.”
Respondents had a subdued view about the prospects for the U.S. and global economy for the remainder of this year, but some two-thirds of advisors expressed optimism about 2021.
Although only 25% said they expected stocks to increase by year-end, 62% said they would do so next year.
The majority of RIAs are carefully watching headlines on the U.S. economy, the November presidential election and corporate earnings for their effect on client portfolios, according to the survey.
In addition, the survey showed that 61% of advisors expected the information technology sector to outperform this year, followed by 47% who said health care and 18% financial, consistent with their expectations at the start of 2020.
True North Market Insights conducted the online survey in late July among 158 independent RIAs — both clients of TD Ameritrade Institutional and non-clients — with an average of $234 million in assets under management.
A Different Looking Office
The survey results showed that RIAs remained committed to taking care of their clients as the number of positive virus cases rose across the country. But for most firms, it was not back to “business as usual.”
Sixty-one percent of RIAs reported that they were already back in the office, although health concerns and precautionary measures had changed what this looks like for many.
Thirty-six percent of firms were juggling split in-office and remote work schedules to allow for social distancing, and 28% were providing staff with PPE.