Edward Jones and Commonwealth tops with advisers

Pair of firms ranked No. 1 in J.D. Power and Associates for second year in a row

Mar 30, 2012 @ 3:25 pm

By Andrew Osterland

Edward D. Jones & Sons Inc. financial advisers love their firm.

For the second year in a row, the St. Louis-based brokerage topped the J.D. Power and Associates U.S. Financial Advisor Satisfaction Study, posting a score of 901 on a scale of 1000.

Commonwealth Financial Network ranked highest among independent advisers with a score of 917 — also the second consecutive year the firm has topped the list. The industry average in the employee adviser segment was 698 and was 774 among the independent firms.

The rankings from employees of financial advisory firms were based on nine factors: firm performance, compensation, contact, people, job duties, work environment, products and offerings to clients, technology, and services and support offered to financial advisers. Firms only received a ranking if more than 100 advisers from the firm responded to the survey.

Money isn't the most important factor in satisfying advisers, according to David Lo, director of investment services at J.D. Power.

“Providing the right mix of technology and support to advisers, thus optimizing the time they spend with clients, has the biggest impact on satisfaction,” Mr. Lo said in a press release. “It's no coincidence that the firms struggling with the key best practices identified in the study are also paying the highest retention and signing bonuses to compensate for the poorer work experience.”

Specifically, those firms would be the wirehouses. UBS Financial Services Inc., Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC and Wells Fargo Advisors LLC ranked lowest among the eight employee firms that received a ranking. Wells received the lowest score, 633.

Mr. Lo said that the biggest gripes advisers have with their firms are being pushed to sell non-investment products and having to deal with what they consider excessive administrative burdens.

Raymond James Financial Inc's employee B-D, Raymond James & Associates Inc. (864), and its independent arm, Raymond James Financial Services Inc. (887), each placed second in its respective category.

The 2012 study was based on the responses of 2,800 financial advisers.

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