CHICAGO Feb 10 The most successful financial
advisers take their time picking up new technology, focus on the
"client experience" and deemphasize back-office trades,
according to a new study from Fidelity Investments.
Fidelity identified "high-performing" registered investment
advisers (RIAs) - those in the top quartile for growth,
profitability and productivity, regardless of size. The firm,
which polled more than 500 RIAs last spring, pointed to a number
of practices the most successful advisers held in common.
"High-performing firms are doing a lot of things
differently," said David Canter, executive vice president of
Fidelity Investments. He said the top achievers depended on
high-quality support staff and used technology that enabled them
to scale up their services.
"An adviser at a high-performing firm can service more
clients at higher asset levels," Canter said.
Here are some other takeaways for advisers looking to build
their independent firms into industry leaders:
- Close the sale faster. High performers were closing
business in a shorter time; 77 percent closed in two or fewer
meetings, compared with 57 percent for all other firms, said
Fidelity. Winners have a clear client target profile and they
stick to it, with only 3 percent straying from that goal, the
- Keep up with technology, but don't go crazy buying the
latest and greatest. The top-performing firms used customer
relationship management (CRM) systems to track customers,
beginning at the prospect stage. At the same time, the leading
RIAs were slow to adopt some technologies - such as cloud-based
systems or other software that integrated all aspects of their
practices - that could disrupt their business. Some 60 percent
of high-performing RIAs say the biggest impediment to moving
forward with whole-office synchronizing systems was worry that
glitches could interrupt the flow of work and hurt their
- Outsource strategically. Almost 40 percent of firms polled
do not outsource any portion of their business. Those
high-performing firms that do concentrated their outsourcing on
areas, like data reconciliation and financial reporting, that
wouldn't affect client relationships. That gave in-house
advisers more time to focus on client strategy.