More Product Choices and RIAs Challenge Product Providers

An increasing menu of product choices and the growth in number of independent registered investment advisers (RIAs) are driving product providers to be more consultative, according to the latest Cerulli report.

The latest Cerulli Quantitative Update: “Intermediary Markets 2007,” found that the increasing menu of product choices has been accompanied by an increased importance on independence in the provision of financial advice, according to a press release. The only growing adviser channel is independent RIAs and many traditionally proprietary distribution arms are moving towards independence also.

Although long-term mutual funds remain the product of choice for most advisers, products such as exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are becoming popular for their lower costs and intraday trading capabilities, and the trend toward independent advice has also led to the explosion of managed accounts, the release said.

These trends have made things more complex for product providers, as the wholesaling process has grown inadequate due to the growing influence of broker-dealer gatekeepers. In addition, clients are pushing advisers into open architecture, planning-oriented business models.

The most popular managed account programs give the adviser a degree of choice, and asset managers must be prepared to compete for their share of assets in these programs. Cerulli points out that as product providers deepen their relationships with broker/dealers, wholesalers become the delivery mechanism for the education and training that distinguishes the product provider.

Intermediary Markets 2007 provides an in-depth examination of retail distributed financial products. Through quantitative analysis, the report focuses on three key areas – the adviser marketplace, the product marketplace, and product provider salesforces – and explores the key implications for the industry and its providers.

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