Why Commonwealth, Edward Jones top J.D. Power advisor satisfaction
Is your firm’s technology up to date?
If not, it may explain discontent in the brokerage ranks.
The degree that advisors perceive their broker-dealer’s tech as improving is the most significant indicator of their satisfaction, according to J.D. Power’s 2020 advisor survey. The dynamic leaves wealth managers “in a challenging position,” according to Mike Foy, senior director of wealth and lending intelligence.
“They have to both bring in more cutting edge tools that use AI and big data to help make advisors more productive, but also ensure the core technologies like financial planning are robust and that all of it is integrated into a platform that’s easy to use and reliable,” Foy says in an email. “Our data suggests there are opportunities for improvement across the board, but firms really can’t afford to just pick one area to focus on; they have to be able to do it all.”
Even so, firms can easily find examples of competitors who have long track records in meeting advisor expectations. The firms receiving the highest marks for satisfaction, Commonwealth Financial Network and Edward Jones, took top billing last year and are perennial champions.
Commonwealth advisors have rated the firm No. 1 in the independent channel for advisor satisfaction in all nine years that the market research and consulting firm has broken out scores for IBDs since 2010. Similarly, Edward Jones has had the highest advisor satisfaction index of any employee BD each of the 11 times there has been an employee channel winner since 2007.
It’s difficult to pinpoint the reasons for their success because the firms received the highest scores in each of the six different metrics that J.D. Power asked 3,262 advisors about between January and April, Foy notes. The two companies have “a very strong culture”, and are “totally focused” on retail wealth management, he says.
On the negative side, compensation plan changes at Wells Fargo and UBS pushed down their advisor satisfaction ratings to the bottom of the group of 15 firms that had at least 100 participating advisors, according to Foy. He didn’t see the coronavirus as a major factor, and he points out that a new design of the survey makes it difficult to compare year-over-year results.
Across the board, fewer than half of surveyed advisors (48%) called their BD’s technology “very valuable” and roughly one-fifth (21%) say the tech is “completely integrated” with features like single sign-on, data-synching and workflow. Less than a tenth of advisors (9%) currently use some form of AI; the ones who do gave their BDs an extra 95 points of satisfaction with tech.
The survey measured overall satisfaction on a 1,000-point scale using six criteria: compensation, leadership and culture, operational support, products and marketing, professional development and technology. Compensation (27%) and leadership and culture (25%) counted for the most weight in the criteria, which last year included another separate category called “problem resolution.” J.D. Power included that subject in other parts of the survey in 2020.
For the results of J.D. Power’s latest advisor satisfaction survey, scroll down our slideshow. To see last year’s rankings, click here. And to view the firm rankings from J.D. Power’s wealth management client survey earlier this year, follow this link.