In the long running battle over whether someone who gives professional advice is an "adviser" or an "advisor," the "o" side is clearly winning.
An InvestmentNews survey of more than 550 readers found that nearly 83% refer to themselves as an "advisor," versus 17% who call themselves an "adviser."
The findings support the growing popularity of the "o" version, despite the legal and regulatory history linked to the "e" version through the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 and the Registered Investment Adviser title as described within the Act.
While both versions are correct in the eyes of grammarians — and spelling it with an "o" does not confer any amnesty from the Investment Advisers Act — both sides of the debate remain passionate in their positions.
When asked why they spell the word one way over the other, 28% of respondents from both camps cited the reason of "most commonly used."
Among those advisers using the e version, 35% cited legal reasons, while just 4% from the "advisor" camp chose that reason.
However, 30% of the "advisor" camp respondents said they believe the spelling is more formal, which was cited as a reason by just 5.6% of "advisers."
In terms of a symbol of fiduciary responsibility, the two sides are essentially split, with 21% of "advisers" saying their spelling is more closley aligned to a higher standard of care, compared to 23.7% of "advisors."
The two camps were also virtually even in justifying the spelling as "how my firm spells it," with 29.6% of "advisers" and 28.9% of "advisors."
It is also clear that neither side is keen on altering the way they are now spelling the word.
Nearly 55% of "adviser" respondents said they are "somewhat" or "extremely" committed to the spelling, which compared to 62.8% of "advisor" respondents.
The support for "advisor" is most stark when looked at through various financial services segments.
"Advisor" was preferred over "adviser" by between 64% and 78% of respondents in the following sub-categories: Investment adviser representative, regional representative/securities broker, insurance agent/broker, certified public accountant, bank trust officer, financial planner, retirement plan adviser, and owner or partner at an independent advisory firm.