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The 10 Hottest Skillsets in the RIA Business

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Advisors want to learn how to help protect clients against life, aging and investment risk.

They seem to be less interested in learning how to help clients handle more specialized kinds of life challenges.

The American College of Financial Services has published data supporting that view of advisors’ goals in a new summary of results from a recent survey of 386 independent advisors at RIA firms.

The King of Prussia, Pennsylvania-based college asked the advisors: “In which of the following areas do you want your RIA to grow in advanced expertise? (Select all that apply)?”

For a look at the 10 most popular growth areas, and the percentage of participants who want their RIA firms to develop advanced expertise in those areas, see the gallery above.

What It Means

At financial services schools, the kinds of insurance, aging management and general investment strategy programs at the top of the survey popularity list will likely be hot.

For advisors who like to have niche markets, the topics at the bottom of the popularity list might be better sources of ideas for quiet meadows where financial professionals can have some room to stretch.

The Quiet Meadows

The American College is the school where financial services researcher Michael Finke is a professor of wealth management.

Alternative investments just missed the college’s top 10 popularity cut, with 26% of the survey participants expressing an interest in that topic.

Despite the many immigrants who live in the United States, and the many U.S. citizens who spend at least some time abroad, international financial planning issues ranked at the bottom of the popularity list: Only 10% of the survey participants said they want their RIA firms to develop advanced expertise in that area.

Topics on the growth lists of 13% to 25% of the participants include college planning, student loan advising and special needs planning; planning for divorced, blended and nontraditional families; investing strategies involving environmental, social and governance criteria.