Conducted by J.D. Power and Associates, the 2007 Financial Advisor Satisfaction Study measured satisfaction by examining seven factors: support (specifically satisfaction with sales, technology and compliance support, and training and resources), firm performance, compensation, people (specifically satisfaction with co-workers, back-office operations and immediate supervisors), products and offerings, work environment, and job duties.
The industry average was 739 on a 1,000-point scale and Edward Jones ranked first, garnering a score of 892 points, followed by Linsco/Private Ledger with 880 points (doing particularly well in products and offerings, work environment, job duties and compensation). A.G. Edwards ranked third overall receiving 822 points, followed by Raymond James receiving a score of 804, and Merrill Lynch rounds out the top five with a score of 766. The rest of the top 10 were Ameriprise Financial Services (717), Morgan Stanley (707), Citigroup Global Markets (Smith Barney) (701), Wachovia Securities (689), and UBS Financial Services (685).
Although compensation is commonly thought to be the most important component in adviser satisfaction, according to the survey the support factor has the most significant impact on the satisfaction of financial advisers. Unfortunately, J.D. Power found that advisers cite particularly low levels of satisfaction with their support, specifically with problem resolution, level of support staff, and compliance support. When it comes to compliance, the average adviser currently spends an average of 8.5 hours per week on compliance-related work and firms that can keep compliance activities to less than 5 hours per week tend to receive higher satisfaction scores from their advisers. The number of sales assistants assigned to work with an adviser also has an impact on satisfaction within the support factor; nearly 60% of advisers have no assistant and those with three or more sales assistants report satisfaction levels that are 114 index points higher on average than advisers with one or none at all.
The following firms were included in the study but were not ranked due to small sample size (in alphabetical order): AIG, Allstate Financial Services, American Family Securities, AXA Advisors, Banc of America Investment Services, Charles Schwab, Chase Investment Services, Citicorp Investment Services, Farmers Financial Solutions, Fidelity Brokerage Services, H.D. Vest Investment Services, ING Financial Partners, MetLife Securities, MML Investors Services, Northwestern Mutual, NYLIFE Securities, PFS Investments, Robert W. Baird, State Farm, and Thrivent.
From January to February 2007, J.D. Power and Associates surveyed 4,008 financial advisers who are registered with the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) online.