Numbers Game

Numbers Gameblog

Latest research and trends from around the financial advisory business, updated regularly highlighting stats, charts, infographics and all things data.

Mar 1, 2015, 12:01 AM EST

Socially conscious funds ranked by one-year total return

By Trevor Hunnicutt and InvestmentNews Data

Values-based investing won new attention this quarter when BlackRock Inc. announced plans to launch BlackRock Impact, a unit catering to investors' social, environmental or religious goals. But the largest money manager is just one of many companies offering funds based on more than performance. Advisers need not take returns completely off the table as they shop around, however, as this list demonstrates. The following portfolios posted the top performance among funds tracking more than $82 billion in assets, according to Lipper.... Read full post

Feb 11, 2015, 6:57 AM EST

Top-performing firms invest big in technology — a critical driver of success

Critical to Goals For Growth

By Matt Sirinides

As we dive into the results of the 2015 InvestmentNews Adviser Technology Study and begin analyzing the data, one of the first steps is to identify the "top performers." By focusing on this group we can gauge how their success, typically defined primarily by their financial prosperity, separates them from the rest of the pack. For our technology study, we measured firms by profit margin, productivity ratios and revenue growth; created a composite ranking; and then labeled the top quartile as our Top Performer cohort.Early analysis of the data shows that the most financially successful firms stay well ahead of the curve when it comes to their technology, allocating more of their resources to technology (11.3% of their overhead versus 9.4% for all others), with no plans to slow down in the future. Fifty-six percent of Top Performers say they will increase their tech spending in 2015, with just 2% planning to decrease it, versus 55% and... Read full post

Feb 1, 2015, 12:01 AM EST

The best- and worst-performing target date funds

By Trevor Hunnicutt and InvestmentNews Data

The target date fund series promoted by J.P. Morgan Asset Management is thriving.The firm's SmartRetirement series was ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in the fourth quarter in six target date categories. The firm's decisions panned out when other fund managers were flummoxed by an unexpected rally in U.S. government bonds, the sinking price of oil and the return of volatility to equity markets. Morningstar Inc. this year gave its annual fund manager of the year award for asset-allocation strategies to Anne Lester and her team. Ms. Lester is portfolio manager and head of global retirement solutions at the New York-based money manager. “We're a believer in this series over the long term,” said Leo Acheson, a Morningstar analyst who covers fund-of-fund strategies, which include retirement-oriented target date funds. Mr. Acheson said the firm combines a strong strategic sensibility — they are well-diversified across a series of J.... Read full post

Jan 18, 2015, 12:01 AM EST

Bond ETFs defied pundits in the fourth quarter

By Jeff Tjornehoj

Headlines and financial pundits warned investors a year ago that, with the Federal Reserve's third quantitative-easing program coming to an end in 2014, the long-awaited rise in interest rates was upon us. Although it took until October for the Fed to wind down its bond buying, markets had a radically different reaction than had been forecast: Bonds rose in value.Not all types of bonds went up, of course. Junk bonds were crushed in the fourth quarter (especially in December) as concerns about a global economic slowdown far outweighed the consequences of ending the Fed stimulus. For bond exchange-traded-fund investors, the clear winners were products holding long-duration Treasuries, such as Pimco 25+ Year Zero Coupon U.S. Treasury Index (ZROZ), which rocketed 15.0%, and Vanguard Extended Duration Treasury Index (EDV), which barely trailed with a 14.4% return.... Read full post

Jan 18, 2015, 12:01 AM EST

Equity ETFs post third straight year of plus-side returns

By Tom Roseen

In the fall, cautious investors were bombarded with mixed news, ranging from continued eurozone weakness and new cases of Ebola in the U.S., to a major slump in oil prices. But better-than-expected U.S. economic news and fresh interventions by global central banks in the fourth quarter pushed local indexes to new records, albeit at the margins. For fourth-quarter 2014, equity ETFs posted their ninth quarter in 10 of plus-side returns, with the average equity exchange-traded fund's three-month return at just 0.01% as investors embraced reports that the U.S. economy had outpaced growth in most other developed nations and thus shied away from global markets. Investors began selectively focusing on interest-related, out-of-favor and relatively safer domestic equity issues. Investors were kept in the game by reports that the Chinese and European central banks were laying the groundwork for quantitative easing and asset purchases, strong U.S.... Read full post

Jan 9, 2015, 1:23 PM EST

Financial adviser moves set to pick up in 2015

By Matt Sirinides

If the past is any indicator, adviser moves are likely to pick up steam in the first quarter, according to an analysis of InvestmentNews' Advisers on the Move database, which tracks teams of advisers and brokers changing firms.We expect our initial tally of recent fourth quarter-end activity to expand by approximately 10% as prior adviser move announcements and reporting trickles in, boosting fourth quarter activity to approximately $18 billion of adviser AUM. That revised sum would place activity flat versus the prior quarter.But if the cyclical nature of adviser moves in the past is any guide — and economic and other fundamentals hold steady — adviser move activity is set to pick up in earnest in 2015, and we are forecasting a pickup in assets moving by an average of approximately 15% in 2015. Summers have been particularly active, and the third quarter of 2015 could see record activity in our database.... Read full post

Dec 21, 2014, 3:12 PM EST

More advisers are turning to donor-advised funds

By InvestmentNews Data and Darla Mercado

Donor-advised funds, which provide clients with an easy way to give to their favorite causes, experienced a sharp pickup in popularity during 2013. Advisers have turned to them as a way to help philanthropically inclined investors offset capital gains taxes, particularly in light of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 and the five-year bull market. Fidelity Investments topped the list in both grants and assets in 2013, but the Silicon Valley Community Foundation experienced the most dramatic growth between 2012 and 2013.... Read full post

Dec 17, 2014, 3:18 PM EST

The new variable and indexed annuity leaders

By InvestmentNews Data and Darla Mercado

Variable annuities are a staple of broker-dealers' business, offering clients the opportunity to garner market exposure on a tax-deferred basis. In recent years, however, sales of indexed annuities — which credit interest to a client's account — have climbed, particularly as advisers seek a fixed-income alternative with an optional guaranteed living benefit feature. Indexed annuities continue to boom in popularity as insurers release products intended specifically for the wirehouse and broker-dealer channels, in addition to their lineups for independent agents. In the variable annuity space, Jackson National continues to dominate sales. Meanwhile, Allianz Life of North America keeps a tight grasp of market share in the indexed-annuities arena.... Read full post

Dec 15, 2014, 11:39 AM EST

Most advisory firms don't have a strategy for landing client referrals

By Matt Sirinides

There are a lot of figures that get thrown around about attracting new clients in the advisory industry. One that we frequently hear at InvestmentNews Research is that approximately 70% of a typical advisory firm's new business is referral-driven. In a 2012 study we conducted, the typical firm had earned nearly 50% of their new revenue in the prior year from client referrals alone. If professional referrals are included, that figure jumps to 70%, positioning referrals as by far the number one source of new business.In this year's InvestmentNews Financial Performance Study of Advisory Firms, we asked advisers: Do you have a formal, standardized process in place at your firm for asking for referrals from both third-party professionals and existing clients?What we found surprised us. Only about one out of every three firms have a formal process, which tells us that firms often take a passive approach to a strategy that accounts for the... Read full post

Nov 20, 2014, 7:27 AM EST

What top firms do differently with adviser technology

By Matt Sirinides

Today we launch the InvestmentNews 2015 Adviser Technology Study survey. Join the conversation and take the survey now.We do a lot of research here at InvestmentNews around practice management, from taking the pulse of advisory firms' financial performance to benchmarking the compensation and staffing of the elite firms in the industry. But after analyzing a firm's financial health and the single biggest factor on their bottom line — staffing — what practice-oriented feature affects advisory firm performance most?Tech is at the root of just about every basic function of today's advisory firm. Not only does it help advisers run their business — from cloud applications that have replaced servers to software solutions indispensable to business development such as customer relationship management software — it is also often central to the client service experience and acting at the heart of their marketing apparatus.... Read full post

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