A recent study by Fidelity Investments identified "high-performing" registered investment advisers (RIAs) - those in the top quartile for growth, profitability and productivity, regardless of size. Fidelity, which polled more than 500 RIAs last spring, pointed to a number of practices the most successful advisers held in common.
"High-performing firms are doing a lot of things differently," said David Canter, executive vice president of Fidelity Investments. He said the top achievers depended on high-quality support staff and used technology that enabled them to scale up their services.
"An adviser at a high-performing firm can service more clients at higher asset levels," Canter said.
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1. Focus on the "Client Experience"
2. Close the Sale
High performers were closing business in a shorter time; 77 percent closed in two or fewer meetings, compared with 57 percent for all other firms, said Fidelity. Winners have a clear client target profile and they stick to it, with only 3 percent straying from that goal, the study said.
3. Keep Up with Technology
But don't go crazy buying the latest and greatest. The top-performing firms used customer relationship management (CRM) systems to track customers, beginning at the prospect stage. At the same time, the leading RIAs were slow to adopt some technologies - such as cloud-based systems or other software that integrated all aspects of their practices - that could disrupt their business. Some 60 percent of high-performing RIAs say the biggest impediment to moving forward with whole-office synchronizing systems was worry that glitches could interrupt the flow of work and hurt their customers' experiences.
4. Outsource Strategically
Almost 40 percent of firms polled do not outsource any portion of their business. Those high-performing firms that do concentrated their outsourcing on areas, like data reconciliation and financial reporting, that wouldn't affect client relationships. That gave in-house advisers more time to focus on client strategy.