Thank you for participating!
Fielding is now closed for The 2016 FA Insight Study of Advisory Firms: Growth by Design. We thank the hundreds of firms who participated this year. The study report will be available in August of 2016.
An Investment in Clarity
We provide the clarity needed to take the right strategic steps for future growth and success. Learn how we bring clarity to our clients.
An Investment in Performance
We utilize proprietary marketplace research and benchmarking to maximize performance. See how our research puts firms on the leading edge of the industry.
An Investment in Your Long-Term Success
We are experts in helping financial advisory firms achieve long-term success — working directly with them or in partnership with institutional firms who serve advisors. See how we guide firms to achieve their long-term goals.
An Investment in Knowledge
How We Help
We start by listening to you — your concerns, challenges, and needs. We talk with the relevant personnel on your team and gather all the facts. Then, we put it all together, combining what we learn with our deep industry knowledge and proprietary data. Ultimately, we deliver detailed, customized, and implementable recommendations on how your firm can achieve its long-term goals.
Common issues our advisory firm clients face include: Stalled growth • Lack of a clear business strategy • Confusion around how to structure roles and compensation • Lack of management capability • High level of dependency on firm principals
If you’re with an institutional firm, you can think of FA Insight as a partner that helps facilitate the growth of the advisory firms you work with. Simply put, we have the ability to provide a wide range of services and programs to help support you in engaging and advancing advisory firm practices. This support enhances your brand while giving advisory firms the business management guidance they need.
Common issues our institutional clients face include: Continuous need for outreach to advisory firms • Desire for engaging content and presentations designed specifically for advisory firms • Uncertainty regarding how to prioritize advisor support resources • Need for impartial, third-party industry research and data
FA Insight can help advisory firms in these areas:
FA Insight can help institutions in these areas:
We develop benchmarking studies that enable advisory firms and broker-dealers to better understand the performance trends in the industry. Areas such as financial and operating performance, capacity utilization, resource allocation, talent compensation, and pricing are measured and analyzed so firms get a better sense of how they stack up versus their competition.
We regularly publish research-based practice-management white papers and guidebooks in partnership with institutional sponsors. If you’re an institutional firm, we can assist you with preparing published content that provides practical guidance for your affiliated advisors. Our work can position your organization as an advocate for advisory firms and an industry thought leader.
Drawing upon our proprietary research and years of consulting experience, our research publications highlight industry best practices and offer solutions for a number of key business areas, such as:
- Effective Human Capital Management
- Operational Excellence
- Strategic Growth including Mergers and Acquisitions
- Successful Marketing and Pricing Strategies
- Transitioning to a More Independent Business Model
- Financial Management
We’re experienced at conducting market research to evaluate your firm’s competitive environment and strategic options. Whether you’re seeking to enter new markets, introduce new products, or simply enhance the competitiveness of your current offerings, FA Insight will partner with you to provide an objective analysis of all the possibilities.
Combining our own data and in-house expertise with other primary and secondary research, we assess your competitive positioning, help confirm the most appropriate direction for your firm, and recommend where to focus resources. As a result, you’ll have a solid foundation for strategic decision-making.
We will assess your institution’s current practice management offerings, identify the gaps, provide a logical, well-defined framework for your program, and contribute ideas for the development of new practice management resources. This will help you deliver in the areas most relevant to your advisors.
We can help you make a lasting impression and deliver vital information through customized workshops, Webcasts, and presentations for advisors. Whether these sessions are conducted “virtually” or in-person, sharing our thought leadership is another way we provide meaningful business support to advisors and help institutional firms be strong advocates and supporters of advisory firms.
The 2016 FA Insight Study of Advisory Firms: Growth by Design
FA Insight, in collaboration with media partner Financial Planning, invites you to participate in its eighth annual industry study: Growth by Design. Strategic planning, operations, and marketing are given particular focus as the study strives to identify key factors that are the strongest contributors toward sustaining growth. In this vein, FA Insight will examine how the industry's most successful firms achieve growth including the planning processes that direct this success. Fielding is open now through April 29.
For an overview of survey questions, click here.
Research Studies Available for Purchase
We collect lots of data, but it’s what we do with it that counts. FA Insight conducts proprietary research across the financial services industry, enabling us to stay ahead of market trends and offer you the chance to gain a broader perspective on your business, determine areas that need improvement, and gain new ideas that help you make progress.
Our flagship research initiative is the FA Insight Study of Advisory Firms. Produced annually, this report gives advisory firm owners critical data for benchmarking their firm’s performance against peers. In addition, the report offers consultative prescriptions for success.
The 2015 FA Insight Study of Advisory Firms: People and Pay
The 2015 FA Insight Study of Advisory Firms: People and Pay promises meaningful insight that is applicable for any advisor interested in better business performance. Along with media partner Financial Planning, FA Insight's seventh annual industry study focuses special attention on how firms position their people and utilize incentive pay in order best facilitate and accommodate growth.
For excerpts and a more detailed overview of the study, click here.
The 2014 FA Insight Study of Advisory Firms: Growth by Design
The 2014 FA Insight Study of Advisory Firms: Growth by Design aims to guide the many firm owners who struggle with growth, whether it is in terms of how to achieve it, how to manage it, or how to sustain it. Sponsored by TD Ameritrade Institutional, FA Insight’s sixth annual study of advisory firms explores how growing well, or growth by design, produces managed sustainable growth that minimizes stress on a firm’s infrastructure and builds lasting enterprise value.
For excerpts and a more detailed overview of the study, click here.
The 2013 FA Insight Study of Advisory Firms: People and Pay
FA Insight is pleased to announce the release of its fifth annual study of advisory firms, People and Pay. Five years of FA Insight’s industry analyses reaffirms the importance of human capital management to advisory firms. Sound people practices can accelerate growth as well as provide insulation against periods of adversity.
For excerpts and a more detailed overview of the study, click here.
Other Research Developed By FA Insight
Who We Help
FA Insight works exclusively within the financial services industry. Our clients represent every type of marketplace participant, including: Individual advisory firms • Custodians • Broker-dealers • Trade and professional associations • Fund companies • Banks • Accounting firms.
A sample of clients we've helped:
News & Press
TD Ameritrade Agrees to Acquire Assets of FA Insight, Delivering Big Data Capabilities to Independent RIAs
ORLANDO, Fla. – TD Ameritrade, among the largest providers of custody and brokerage services to independent registered investment advisors (“RIAs”), has agreed to acquire the research, benchmarking and consulting capabilities of FA Insight, a combination that will give advisors ready access to some of the industry’s deepest and most comprehensive collection of business information.
TD to Acquire FA Insight to Bring Big Data to Advisors
“With the acquisition, TD clients will gain access to benchmarking data going back more than a decade, consulting tools and annual research reports. Advisors will also eventually get customized reports…”
TD Ameritrade to Acquire FA Insight for Big Data
“The acquisition…will make available more than a decade of survey data as well as three industry studies for advisers, including ‘Growth by Design,’ ‘People and Pay’ and a mergers and acquisition-focused report. Research on areas such as client acquisition, staffing and compensation, pricing strategies, operational efficiency and risk management also will be provided to advisers.”
Is the Advisor Talent Shortage Just a Mirage?
“According to the FA Insight study, non-owner Lead Advisor compensation…has experienced annualized growth of only 2.6% since the market bottom in 2009. Associate advisors have fared even worse, with average annual compensation growth of only 2%, and support advisors (i.e., paraplanners) have struggled even more, with compensation gains of only 1.2% over the past 6 years. To put that in context, the general growth for all U.S. wage and salary workers over the same time period was 2.0%!”
The Good Times Roll – But for How Much Longer?
“…based on recent findings from The 2015 FA Insight Study of Advisory Firms: People and Pay, the typical advisory firm has clearly enjoyed unprecedented success in recent years, but there are no guarantees that this will continue. In particular, the long-running bull market for securities appears to have run its course. “
Advisor Succession Planning: Better, But Still Not Too Hot
“…the owners of financial advisory firms seem to be dragging their heels when it comes time to plan for the future of their business after they have retired or died. According to a recent report from FA Insight, fewer than half (44%) of surveyed advisory firms said they have an adequate succession plan in place. Yet the share of firms with owners who are three years or less from retirement has more than doubled in the past four years.”
Better-Paid Employees Build Better Firms
“While Standouts may tend to pay a premium for their personnel, it is clearly money well spent. With the exception of [the smallest firms], Standouts at every stage generate more revenue per professional than their peers. This trend holds true for revenue per all [full-time employees] as well. This suggests that by targeting higher pay for their people, Standout firms are attracting and retaining more capable team members that support a more productive firm. “
Compensation Report: Who’s in the Money?
“Pay levels across a variety of industry positions have increased steadily in recent years according to The 2015 FA Insight Study of Advisory Firms: People and Pay… for the great majority of industry positions compensation growth exceeded average U.S. pay growth over the 2009–2015 period. A more rapid rise in advisory firm revenue relative to compensation levels, however, has helped to increase profits and counter any squeeze on margins due to rising labor costs.”
People and Pay Highlights Human Capital Practices That Sustain Advisory Firm Success
Tacoma, Wash. — Rising productivity is outpacing pay growth, contributing to another year of record profitability for advisory firms. According to study findings released today by industry research and consulting firm FA Insight, the operating profit margin for the typical firm hit 26.1% in 2014, a dramatic four-percentage-point increase over the previous high set just one year prior.
Pay, Productivity & Profits Up for RIAs — Can It Continue?
“There is no guarantee that the good times will continue. My greatest concern is that firms are living on borrowed time when it comes to their personnel. The typical advisor is aging and nearing retirement. With experienced labor in short supply, how much longer can firm productivity increase without commensurate increases in compensation?”
Why Mutual Funds Should Pay Investors for Loyalty
“And, while many financial advisers reduce their annual fees for investors with millions of dollars, very few—if any—offer lower fees for clients who stay put for years on end.”
The Slowly Disappearing Commission
“‘If you’re a firm owner, however, you should probably be a little concerned about how you’re going to source labor and manage higher costs related to compensation of your staff,’ Dan Inveen cautions. While the market demand for advice continues to grow, the supply of advisors has not.”
Marketing Matters to Firms That Want to Grow
“For many advisory firms, deliberately focusing on attracting new prospects and converting them to clients is a function that is all too convenient to ignore. Just 43% of the firms surveyed in our latest FA Insight Study of Advisory Firms cited marketing and business development activity as a primary factor in driving their past growth.”
Focus Financial Doubles Down on Financial Engineering by Making Five Hires
“If M&A expertise is going to be central to their success, and I would argue that it is, you want to own that expertise as a core competency.”
M&A Activity Among RIA Firms Remains Steady but Aligning Strategic Objectives More Important Than Ever
Registered investment advisor firms (RIAs) continue to initiate the bulk of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) of RIAs, but the success of these transactions increasingly rests on the alignment of the strategic objectives of the firms involved, according to a report released today by Pershing LLC, a BNY Mellon company. The report, Real Deals: Achieving Purposeful Growth with Purposeful Transactions, analyzes RIA deals and offers guidance to firms for determining if or when a transaction is the optimal course of action.
Savvy Advisory Firms Have an Effective PR Plan
“According to the 2014 FA Insight Study of Advisory Firms: Growth by Design, sponsored by TD Ameritrade Institutional, only 50 percent of surveyed firms developed an annual marketing plan. Furthermore, the study found that just 32 percent of firms had a position dedicated to marketing or new client growth.”
Roll-ups Are Off at an Acquisition Clip in 2015
“Certainly these deals offer proof that none of these major players have intentions of backing away from direct acquisitions. If the right opportunities come along for them and the seller is willing, these deals will continue.”
How Should Advisors Be Charging Now?
“Most firms charging by percentage of AUM add many more services over time, but don’t change their pricing structure. What’s more, ‘there’s a disconnect between advisory firms’ published rates and what they actually charge.’”
How Building Personas Helps You Help Your Clients (And Get More of Them)
“My current obsession: according to FA Insight’s 2014 Survey of Advisors: Growth by Design, standout firms (top 25% in the survey) allocate less to marketing relative to peers. Let me say that again, the firms that grew the most in the survey actually spent less on their growth than the firms that didn’t grow as well.”
How United Capital’s Unconventional Rolling Up of a $2 Billion RIA Reveals How Close the Roll-up Model Is to Extinction
“New players have emerged, with roots as RIAs themselves, who are demonstrating that there continues to be room for growth through multiple acquisition strategies.”
Seventh Annual FA Insight Advisory Firm Study Will Return to a Focus on People
Research and consulting firm FA Insight announced today the opening of fielding for The 2015 FA Insight Study of Advisory Firms: People and Pay. The pending study promises to be the independent advisor’s definitive resource on advancing human capital practices to drive firm growth.
How to Keep the Practice Growing
“For many firms, pure asset-based pricing alone may be inadequate. Limited attention to pricing suggests a great opportunity for advisors to more directly impact their revenue and profitability through proactively managing their pricing.”
How Top Advisory Firms Handle Their Pricing Structures
“There’s plenty of opportunities for firms to do more to proactively manage their revenue and their profitability growth through pricing strategies.”
The Giant Raise RIA Folk Got in 2014 and the Threat It Poses in 2015
“Increasing pay rates are indicative of a persistent shortage of experienced advisors which represent a growing threat to advisory firm profitability.”
FA Insight’s Compensation Update Finds Dramatic Increase in Advisor Pay
Advisor pay is rising dramatically. Median compensation for advisory firm professionals—positions that include business development specialists, lead and associate advisors—increased 9.0% in 2013 with another 10.0% increase expected through 2014. These findings are detailed in The FA Insight Study of Advisory Firms: People and Pay Compensation Update for 2014, released today by industry research and consulting firm FA Insight.
Latest FA Insight Survey to Provide Up-to-Date Industry Compensation Benchmarks
FA Insight announced today the opening of The FA Insight Study of Advisory Firms: People and Pay Compensation Update for 2014. This brief survey focuses on industry-wide compensation changes since the release of The 2013 FA Insight Study of Advisory Firms: People and Pay, the firm’s comprehensive biennial human capital study. The 10-minute compensation update survey is now open for advisor participation.
How to Stand Out at Any Size
“…important lessons emerged that were more specific to a particular development stage. Their existence highlights the importance for firm owners to continually evolve their management tactics in order to progress their firms to new levels of growth.”
Advisors, Show Your Value with Calculated Agression
“…the Leading Firms produced an operating profit of 29% in 2012 compared to 13% for the rest of the industry on average. This statistic validates the argument that people are an asset on which to get a return and not just a cost to be managed. Clearly, the human capital investment these firms made paid off.”
The Drivers of Growth
“What really separated the good firms from the best firms was their approach toward marketing and business development. Your typical firm is passive with regards to marketing. They have this passive reliance on getting referrals from their existing client base.”
Growth by Design Study Sheds New Light on Ways for Advisors to Grow
Advisory firms enjoyed a stellar 2013 and their owners are optimistic prosperity will continue this year. The typical firm expanded its client base at a best-ever rate of 6.7% in 2013, according to findings released by industry research and consulting firm FA Insight. Growth in assets under management and revenue were both the second-highest in the six-year history of the firm’s benchmarking research.
The Virtues of Growing by Design
“By any key business indicator, 2013 was the best on record for the six-year tenure of FA Insight studies. Whether growth is measured in terms of clients, assets under management or revenue, most firms had no problem expanding business in 2013.”
How Advisors Dodged ’08 Meltdown
Take a look back at our findings from The 2013 FA Insight Study of Advisory Firms: People and Pay as Investment Advisor guides you through our in-depth article series highlighting the study’s results.
Team Up to Stand Out
“In this, our fourth and final article featuring findings from ‘The 2013 FA Insight Study of Advisory Firms: People and Pay,’ we examine teams in more detail, putting the advantages of teams in context with other servicing structures and offering suggestions for how firms can make best use of a team-based servicing structure.”
New Owner of Russell Investments Will Flip Its $250-Billion Asset Manager — Yet Again
“A lot has changed in the 15 years since (the company was first sold to Northwestern in 1999)… I sense that Northwestern simply saw an opportunity to make a nice return on their investment and sell off a valuable asset that was no longer essential to their success.”
How Ric Edelman Manages to Bring on 4,500 New Clients Each Year
“…you’ve got to assume that there are standard processes in place for serving clients and that the investment and service philosophy for working with these clients is well-understood and consistently applied throughout the firm. This is the kind of insurance that helps mitigate key-man risk…”
Getting More Mileage From Your Lead Advisor
“With demand for financial advice on the rise, advice requirements becoming increasingly complex, and thousands of advisors nearing retirement, we forecast that the supply of financial advisors in the United States will need to grow 6.4% annually over the next eight years to keep pace.”
5 Reasons Why Growing Your Firm Is Not Optional
“The old adage truly applies: ‘If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.’ It’s for this reason that our 2014 Growth by Design study will provide guidance for shareholders on engineering an effective growth strategy to meet unique firm aspirations. “
United Capital Drops Six-Figure Check on 10 Partner Firms in Share Buyback Program Financed by SageView
“You’ve got these aging original founders of these firms who have been sold and now you have to figure out how to reward the next generation to motivate them to continue to contribute and build value in these firms…”
How Much More Can You Squeeze from Your Financial Advisors?
“While simply freeing more time for revenue generation activity is a big factor in raising professional productivity, it is not the only way to get there. Raising your service fees and working with larger clients, for example can boost revenue per professional as well.”
FA Insight Growth by Design Study to Shed New Light on Most Effective Ways to Grow
FA Insight announced today that fielding is open for The 2014 FA Insight Study of Advisory Firms: Growth by Design. FA Insight’s sixth annual industry benchmarking study will present a detailed examination of how executives can better drive growth.
To Boost Performance, Split Advisors Into Teams
Want your firm to be more successful? Consider a team effort.
“Teams outperform other models,” Eliza De Pardo, principal and director of consulting for FA Insight, told a room at TD Ameritrade Institutional’s national conference here on Friday.
Small Firms Try to Fill Adviser Shortage
“’There are about three junior advisers for every five lead advisers’ right now, said Dan Inveen, FA Insight’s Director of Research, illustrating the shortcoming the industry is facing. That is ‘an insufficient replacement pool for those soon-to-be-retiring lead advisers,’ he said.”
FA Firms Enjoying Nice Profits, But…
“According to FA Insight, firms remain weak in how they position people in the organization and in their general organizational structure planning.”
Advisors, Take a Bow: The 2013 People and Pay Study
“Trying times forced firms to tighten management controls with a new level of discipline that appears to have held through a return to stability.”
RIAs More Active in M&A Deals, But Deal Volume Falls
“After going through the recession and observing the experiences of many of the acquirers who’ve come and gone in the past five to seven years, I think many people are observing the [RIA] space with a lot more caution than they had in the pre-recession period.”
TD Ameritrade Institutional Releases FA Insight-Prepared Study
RIA firms that employ dedicated management and an associate advisor can significantly increase their rate of growth in assets, revenue and earnings, according to new research from TD Ameritrade Institutional and industry consultants FA Insight.
Advisors Must Focus on HR & Management, FA Insight Study Finds
“Firms are doing slightly better when it comes to human capital and organizational planning, but there’s a great deal of room for improvement. Firms with a good organizational approach remain a minority.”
FA Insight’s Fifth Annual Industry Study Highlights the Value of Putting People First
Study findings released today by FA Insight show advisory firms have put some tough years behind them and are now achieving record levels of profitability and income.
How Growth Can Ruin Your Firm—and How to Prevent It
“Only 14% of advisors have a plan for the future structure of their firm.”
Advisor Teams: Group Thinking Points to Lucrative Gain
“The 2012 FA Insight study of advisory firms, Growth by Design, showed the average solo adviser has 78 clients, compared with 57 for each adviser working in a team.”
Pershing Releases FA Insight-Prepared Study Focusing on the Bright Spots in RIA Mergers and Acquisition Activity
Increase in RIA to RIA Transactions Buoy the M&A Space and Point to Growing Confidence…
One-Quarter of Firms With Significant Growth Somehow Escaped Any Negative Consequences
“…one-quarter of firms with significant growth somehow escaped any negative consequences. A deeper analysis of…
It’s Not Hard to Serve the Mass Affluent—it’s Just Hard to Serve Them Profitably
“It’s not hard to serve the mass affluent—it’s just hard to serve them profitably, particularly…
Fifth Annual FA Insight Advisory Firm Study Will Return to a Focus on People
Research and consulting firm FA Insight announced today that fielding is open for The 2013…
Pershing Releases FA Insight-Prepared Study Focusing on Capitalizing on Industry Challenges and Building a Long-Lasting Business
Pershing LLC, a BNY Mellon company, today announced the release of its latest study, Advisor of…
Protected: FA Insight People and Pay Benchmarking Tool
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