Advisers Made More Money in 2009 than 2008

A recent survey found that financial advisers are moving toward fee-based service and emphasizing holistic advice more than last year.

The survey of advisers holding the Certified Financial Planner or other designations from the College for Financial Planning also found that advisers are making more money than last year. Despite the market conditions of the last year, average earnings still rose (albeit not back to 2007 levels). Average earnings rose to $215,345, up from $195,394 in 2008. In 2007, average earnings were $283,079, according to a release of the survey results.

The survey saw a shift in the advisory industry away from commissions. More than half of respondents receive most of their compensation from fees. One-fourth (26%) are fee-only, and nearly one-third (30%) receive at least half their revenue from fees.

The survey found that there is an increased emphasis on providing holistic advice. More than one-third (36%) of advisers’ clients are receiving comprehensive written plans. Another 46% receive modular plans, both written and unwritten.

“As people watch their retirement savings or child’s college fund shrink, they are increasingly asking advisers for solutions to help live their lives, rather than simply grow their stock investments,’ said Bing Waldert, director of Cerulli Associates, which partnered with the College of Financial Planning to conduct the survey. “That requires a more comprehensive approach with a greater emphasis on customer service and better training.’

Interpersonal skills and client referrals topped the list as key drivers of success for advisers, according to the survey. Advisers also value education more than last year: Almost half (49%) of advisers listed education as a key driver of success than (up from 38% in 2008).

The top obstacles to advisers’ jobs are clients’ reluctance to pay planning fees. As far as what keeps advisers satisfied with their careers, “helping clients improve their lives,’ solving client problems, and client interaction were reported as the top drivers.

The survey received 390 responses.