Advisers are more optimistic about 2011 than they were about 2010; 60% expect a stock market gain of greater than 7%. Market pessimism was reserved for the bond market, with nearly two-thirds (64%) of advisers saying there is at least a 50% probability of a “bond bubble burst.” Advisers were also asked about their take on the federal deficit. A consensus on how to best to solve the deficit challenge was not found; advisers were split between reduce current stimulus plans (31%), revisit healthcare reform (28%), or increase the retirement age (16%).
SEI found that the toughest part of 2010 for advisers was dealing with the below-expected revenue levels. However, advisers identified positives as well: the market uncertainty provided an opportunity to strengthen relationships, show their real value, and examine existing business processes and procedures.
Looking ahead, top goals for advisers to increase revenues for 2011 are: proactively acquire clients using new initiatives (32%), increase efforts with centers of influence (25%), and continue their existing referral process (21%). More than half (55%) of advisers said the most important aspect to growing their business is getting referrals from existing clients.
The adviser-client relationship will see a hefty boost in communication in 2011: 77% of those surveyed identified communication as the area in need of greatest attention, which is far ahead of the need for more reporting (16%) or more research (7%). Forty-one percent of advisers plan to use in-person meetings more frequently.
SEI found that top priorities for advisers in 2011 are to create better work-life balance and improve processes and procedures. When asked how a professional coach could help them, the most popular choices were new business development, marketing and public relations, and business organization and staffing. Similarly, the top three New Year’s Resolutions for 2011 among advisers are: spend more time on growth activities, remember what really matters in life, and segment clients and service them differently based on profitability.
The poll, conducted by the SEI Advisor Network, surveyed 367 advisers during December 2010 and January 2011. Nearly two-thirds of respondents (61%) have spent at least 15 years as an adviser.