More Effective Practice Management Tools Needed

About half of nearly 1,300 advisers surveyed by Curian Capital surveyed feel time management and efficiency will be their biggest challenge in 2011. 

However, while the need for practice management support is wide-spread, the majority of advisers said the tools offered to them haven’t been perfect; they either don’t have enough time to use the programs, the programs are not relevant, or the delivery of the programs is ineffective.

“Our survey reveals that advisers value tools and resources that can help support the marketing and development of their businesses, but in many cases they aren’t able to take advantage of them,” said Mark Schoenbeck, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Curian. “Providers will need to focus on ensuring that their support programs are practical, relevant and easily accessible, so advisers can quickly and efficiently grow their businesses.”

The survey questioned advisers in four areas. In addition to provider services and platforms, Curian looked at advisers’ economic outlook, product selection and investment strategies, and business development priorities.

The economic outlook for 2011 is nearly split down the middle: 42% believe the recession is over and 46% believe it is not.  The survey found that the recent rise in equity markets is not enough to impact clients’ risk tolerance; 88% of advisers say their clients’ risk tolerance is either lower or unchanged compared to a year ago. More than two-thirds of advisers believe inflation is a growing concern that will begin to impact portfolio construction within the next two years.

As for investment strategies, Curian found substantial differences of opinion between advisers and clients for investment strategies. Forty-three percent of advisers feel that not generating enough income to last through retirement is the biggest threat to their clients’ retirement plans, and report that 36% of their clients feel the same. Thirty-seven percent of advisers say the majority of their clients are more concerned about market volatility. However, only 16% of advisers feel the same.

Sixty-two percent of advisers said that improving efficiency and overall time management is a major goal for the coming year. Eighty-one percent said they will focus on acquiring more affluent clients in 2011 and 59% plan to market their business more aggressively.

“The findings from our latest survey bring to light two key themes – clients are still apprehensive about investment risk and their retirement preparedness, and advisers continue to struggle with managing their time and resources effectively,” said Chris Rosato, senior vice president of strategic development for Curian. “Taken together, these two points speak to the need for both a broader range of investment solutions, and a platform that can help advisers manage those solutions for multiple clients in the most efficient way possible.”

Curian distributed its “2011 Advisor Outlook Survey” to independent advisers via e-mail in November 2010; 160 firms are represented among the 1,293 respondents.