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Best & Worst BDs for Advisors: J.D. Power — 2021

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The latest J.D. Power poll finds that many employee and independent advisors are more satisfied with their firms today vs. a year ago, despite the disruption tied to the coronavirus pandemic.

The average satisfaction level of employee advisors, for instance, stands at 743 (on a 1-1,000 scale) vs. 711 in the 2020 survey — a 5% improvement. Still, four of seven firms in the survey have lower advisor-satisfaction levels in 2021 than in the prior poll.

As for independent advisors, the average level of their satisfaction is now 798, up from 784 last year, representing a 2% jump. Nonetheless, four of eight firms have lower average-satisfaction figures this year.

The J.D. Power poll, which was redesigned last year, measures advisor satisfaction based on six factors: compensation, leadership and culture, operational support, products and marketing, professional development, and technology. This year’s results are based on nearly 3,030 responses collected earlier this year.

Wirehouse Woes

The latest advisor satisfaction study finds that wirehouse advisors generally feel they have “significantly lower levels of support from their firm, greater disruption of business services and more difficulty transitioning to remote work than do those advisors working for non-wirehouse and independent advisory firms,” according to J.D. Power.

“Advisor satisfaction is directly linked to retention and brand advocacy, so firms that want to get the most out of their advisors need to invest in providing them with the best tools and support to do their jobs  effectively under all circumstances,” said Mike Foy, senior director of wealth and lending intelligence at  J.D. Power, in a statement.

“This year has been especially challenging, and this study identifies some firms that clearly did  a better job than others in meeting those challenges,” Foy added.

Other key findings of the 2021 poll are:

  • 34% of wirehouse advisors say they have reduced levels of support from the home office, and 29% report disruption of business services;
  • 18% of advisors working for firms with the lowest overall advisor satisfaction scores switching firms vs. 5% among the firms with the highest overall scores;
  • The average annual level of fees and commissions of departing advisors is close to  $800,000 per year; and
  • 63% of investors indicate they would likely leave their advisory firm to follow their advisor if he or she left.

The independent and employee advisor firms are ranked in the gallery above.

(Cover image: hin255/Shutterstock)