RIAs Hunt for Consistency, Low Cost in Asset Managers

American Funds and Fidelity are at the top of the asset manager list with registered investment advisers (RIAs).

The individualized management strategies and philosophies of RIAs do not respond well to the one-size-fits all marketing approach of some asset managers, according to Cerulli Associates. The Cerulli Edge—Global Edition examined the traits retail RIAs increasingly require from asset management firms, which are looking to tap the rising number of RIAs in the marketplace.

The most frequently used asset manager among RIAs continues to be American Funds, the report says. The company’s funds are exclusively sold by advisers, which could be a selling point for advisers, in addition to its reputation for quality and low cost, Cerulli says.

Fidelity comes in second with RIAs, which Cerulli attributes to an expansive and low-cost structure. Other firms that bode well with RIAs include Vanguard, Dimensional Fund Advisors, AssetMark, and Barclays. All of these firms offer lines of index funds, which are popular with RIAs.

Cerulli notes that past research has shown that more than one-quarter of RIA respondents do not even use asset managers. RIAs that do use asset managers increasingly use them for specialization. About 61% of RIAs surveyed use six or more asset managers; about a quarter use as many as 15 or more.

The most prominent reason RIAs choose an asset manager is for a consistent investing style, as 80% of RIAs in the study cite this reason. Other strong draws to asset managers include ethical reputation (67%) and low expenses (47%).