Adviser Credentials Key to Success, IMCA Says

Investors expect financial advisers to earn and maintain professional credentials beyond the minimum licensing requirements, according to research from the Investment Management Consultants Association (IMCA).

A recent study conducted by the IMCA and Advisor Impact, “Economics of Loyalty Research,” finds 62% of investors believe it is important or critical that their financial adviser maintain voluntary certifications, and 65% value certifications issued by an objective third party.

IMCA researchers say the analysis contained a few surprises. For example, younger and more inexperienced investors appear to be the most stringent in their credential expectations for advisers, with 84% citing the importance of voluntary certifications above minimum requirements.

“This is the latest in a long line of consumer research to foretell rising client expectations, particularly among Millennials,” explains Sean Walters, chief executive officer of IMCA (see “A Designation with Fiduciary Muscle”).

Walters says the survey also provides valuable insights for advisers to consider in pursuing new credentials, including which knowledge competencies are most valuable for a practice. Fifty-nine percent of investors, for instance, believe the most valuable adviser competency is in investment management, followed by competency in holistic financial planning, sought by 22% of investors.

A strong majority of investors (81%) believe is important or critical that advisers maintain their credentials once earned.

The findings are based on a set of custom questions asked on behalf the IMCA as part of an Advisor Impact study, which polled 1,200 investors. IMCA is a nonprofit professional association and credentialing organization. More information is available here.