Numbers Game

Numbers Gameblog

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

Sep 5, 2014, 3:12 PM EST

11 slides prove the demand for financial advice isn't going away

By Matt Sirinides

As technology changes the way investors work, communicate and invest, new opportunities for advisers are emerging. At InvestmentNews Research we wondered: How are clients' financial goals evolving, and how can advisers best meet their needs? We surveyed nearly 1,000 investors, gauging their appetites for financial advice. We separated them into two camps, those who already work with a financial adviser, and those who don't: the DIY investor. In a companion survey, we asked over 500 advisers how they believed their services and business models would change, with investor demand in mind, in the near- and long-term. Click through the slides below for some of the top-level findings of our research, in what is the first installment of our three-part "Future of Advice" series.... Read full post

Aug 29, 2014, 10:30 PM EST

The real reason behind advisory firms' big gains in AUM

By Matt Sirinides

As the bull market continued to advance throughout 2013, advisory firms experienced another banner year, with the average firm seeing a 19.2% increase in AUM year-over-year, according to preliminary data from the 2014 InvestmentNews Financial Performance Study of Advisory Firms.... Read full post

Aug 1, 2014, 4:02 PM EST

Broker comp puts pressure on wirehouse profit margins

By Mason Braswell Matt Sirinides

Executives at the four largest brokerage houses have set their sights on higher profit margins. But even as they trim expenses, streamline branch offices and reduce back office staff, they're struggling with compensation costs for brokers.... Read full post

Jul 25, 2014, 2:39 PM EST

'Clients of the future' will want financial advice, but not how it's delivered today

By Matt Sirinides

In a recent InvestmentNews Research survey, we set out to identify the expectations of younger investors — the “client of the future” — as well as their adviser counterparts. The goal was to capture how the demands for and delivery of advisory services might look in the not-too-distant future. Advisory firms have experienced rapid expansion over the past five years, and for many, strategically managing that growth has involved structuring their practices to build businesses that will remain profitable for years to come. For advisers in this space, looking ahead to the next generation of clients is a critical part of this process. Who, then, is the client of the future, and what set of expectations will they bring with them? To answer that question, we looked at a subset of 225 investors — nearly a quarter off all investor respondents — who were under the age of 45 and had less than $500,000 in... Read full post

Jul 9, 2014, 3:49 PM EST

How advisers will communicate with clients in five years

By Matt Sirinides

In a first for InvestmentNews Research, we recently fielded a survey that reached out to both advisers and investors to get a sense of whether advisers are prepared to meet the expectations of the next generation of clients. Among the questions we sought to answer was, how will the basic delivery methods of financial advice change over the next five years? With the rise of the smartphone — 85% of investors own and use one regularly, and the device has higher ownership rates than laptops, desktops, or tablets among our respondents — the means of communicating with clients have become as varied and nuanced as ever. Nearly 9 out of every 10 clients can, with a device right in their pocket, communicate via phone, text, video conference, email or social media in an instant, and the channels for doing so are constantly evolving. In this first post recounting some of the results from the study, we track how advisers and investors... Read full post

Jul 2, 2014, 3:39 PM EST

Now is the time for advisers to embrace social media

By Matt Sirinides

Fear of running afoul of regulators continues to dampen adviser participation in social media. Obstacles remain in place for advisers who want to use social media as a means of developing their voice online, establishing their brand, driving referrals and engaging with their clients.An InvestmentNews survey of more than 450 advisers regarding social media usage and policy found that the biggest obstacle to using social media was uncertainty over compliance and regulatory issues, with 55% of respondents stating that such issues were their primary challenge when using social media for business purposes. Couple that confusion with outright firm-level bans on certain networks — 55% of advisers in the same survey say that their firm bans at least one network — and a grim picture emerges. One of an industry where one out of every two advisers is either forbidden from at least one social network, or daunted enough by regulators to ... Read full post

May 21, 2014, 10:27 AM EST

Ranking how indie B-Ds have fared since the financial crisis

By Bruce Kelly Denise Southwood Matt Sirinides

... Read full post

May 14, 2014, 11:49 AM EST

$1M is not what it used to be

By Matt Sirinides

$1 million hasn't been what it used to be for more than 20 years.One million dollars in 1960 — around the time when having $1 million took hold in the popular imagination as a symbol of ultimate wealth — had the buying power of approximately $8 million dollars today. Inflation has averaged 2.78% for the past 30 years. If we exclude the 10-year period from 1974 through 1984, when inflation averaged nearly 8%, the rate has been remarkably consistent since 1914, holding at around 2.75%. If we use that inflation rate as a rough guide, the equivalent of $1 million in 2014 will be $5 million in 2074 (in 60 years). If the place of the $1 million dollar payday in today's lexicon is outdated — and it is — by then, it will be positively extinct.... Read full post

May 7, 2014, 11:40 AM EST

Scoring the wirehouses' first quarter results

By Matt Sirinides Mason Braswell

The big four wirehouses saw market conditions that boosted fourth quarter profits to record levels subside in the first quarter of this year, but fast-rising fee revenues helped insure a collective 16% year-over-year increase in profits. With the first quarter in the books and the earnings statements out for all four of the big brokerage firms, we created a series of charts to demonstrate how their advisory divisions' fared in the first quarter in terms of revenues, client assets, productivity and headcount versus their performance over the past few years. The firms, which are not counting on a market rally to carry into 2014, have charted their own plans for growth. Whether through securing loans for clients, cost-cutting measures, expanding through acquisitions, or honing their service models, each wirehouse has staked divergent paths to continued profitability in the coming year.In this new quarterly feature, we'll check in on their ... Read full post

May 1, 2014, 11:26 AM EST

7 biggest ways top-performing firms sustain their growth

By Matt Sirinides

Advisers spend a lot of time thinking about their growth strategies. Two years ago, when InvestmentNews fielded the 2012 InvestmentNews/Moss Adams Financial Performance Study of Advisory Firms, we identified a subset of firms that were deemed “top performers." These firms were defined as the top quartile of participants across a range of metrics including revenue growth, cost control and profitability. The study found that the fastest-growing and most profitable firms sometimes take an unconventional approach to their business models. Fast forward to 2014. We've internalized the study's findings and are now fielding an updated survey that we hope will help firms not only benchmark their practices and attain greater productivity and profitability, but will also help them rethink their strategic processes and confirm that their firm is on the right growth track.To see how your firm stands up, take part in this year's study by... Read full post

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