Advisers Fret Lack of Support and Limited Autonomy

A new survey of advisers published by Schwab Independent Branch Services suggests client-facing staffers are “brimming with entrepreneurial drive,” and as a result they are increasingly drawn to independence.

Schwab Independent Branch Services has published a new survey report compiling the outlooks of nearly 1,000 U.S. advisory professionals with at least seven years of industry experience, “Examining the Mindset of U.S. Financial Professionals.”

According to the Schwab analysis, client-facing financial professionals are “generally fulfilled and optimistic about their careers,” and they are “brimming with entrepreneurial drive and drawn to independence.” As such, the majority of survey participants say they care deeply about their work and are pleased with their jobs.

Despite this general optimism, 76% of advice pros say they have experienced obstacles that have limited their success, citing lack of support and limited autonomy.

“These survey findings reflect common perspectives that we’ve heard when talking to candidates about running our franchise branches,” explains Craig Taucher, senior vice president, Schwab Independent Branch Services. “Their clients are at the heart of what they do; some want to be employees within established firms, but many feel they can serve clients more effectively by operating totally independently.”

Other survey results show 80% of independent advisory professionals are optimistic about the future of the industry, and 82% feel the industry is going in the right direction. According to the survey report, 77% say they would recommend the industry to a recent graduate, while 71% agree that recent and impending regulations benefit clients.

In a phrase, the report says independent advisers are “fulfilled, but not without frustrations.” The majority who participated in the survey say their profession is the most important thing to them (61%). The vast majority (86%) feel successful. On the other hand, 41% say they’ve had “negative experiences in their professional lives that still keep them up at night,” and 26% “fear compromising their personal values.” Thirty percent of those who experience obstacles say they are “too busy servicing existing clients and lack support to pursue new business.” Adding to frustrations, 26% say they’ve “been promised things by employers that were never delivered.”

When reflecting on their careers, 46% of those surveyed “wish they had built something from scratch.” The majority feel that independence is important for those who work in the financial services industry, and many expressed a desire to gain more personal control over their careers.

The online survey of U.S. financial professionals was conducted by Edelman Intelligence for Schwab Independent Branch Services. More detailed results can be found here.