At the end of 2012, WealthManagement.com surveyed 3,402 advisors at Edward Jones, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Raymond James & Associates, UBS and Wells Fargo Advisors asking them to grade their firms along several criteria. Except when expressed as percentages, the results here are the average of responses ranging from 1 (unacceptable) to 10 (extraordinary).
1. Social Media Support
Social media is a growing trend in the financial services industry. But some wirehouse firms are doing better than others in implementing a strategy. Here's how advisors grade their firms in social media support.
2. Access to Alternatives
As investors demand more diversification in their portfolios, many advisors are turning to alternative investments. According to the survey, advisors at Raymond James are pretty satisfied with the firm's access to alternatives, while Edward Jones received the lowest score.
3. One Eye Towards Independence
Nearly 22 percent of wirehouse advisors said they had considered going independent in the past year, but some are looking harder at the option than others. Morgan Stanley had the highest portion of advisors considering independence, followed by Wells Fargo.
4. Kiss Them Goodbye
Overall, most wirehouse advisors plan to stay exactly where they are. But a significant percentage of advisors at Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch question whether they will remain with the firms for two more years.
5. Take-Home Pay
Which firms offer the best cash compensation? While wirehouse firms tend to have lower payouts than other channels, here's how advisors ranked their firm's payout grid against the others.
6. Public Image
Some wirehouse firms have been in the public eye this year, and not for good reasons. Here is how advisors feel about the public perception of their firms.
7. The Aging Advisor
Most estimate the average age of a financial advisor to be about 55 years old, but some of the wirehouses have many young producers in their ranks. In fact, 42 percent of Merrill advisors who responded to our survey are under the age of 44.
8. Fee-Friendly Firms
The wirehouse world is typically known for its commission model, but our survey showed that fees are accounting for a higher percentage of income.
9. Fee Disclosure
New federal rules are forcing advisors to spell out what they’re charging for running 401(k) plans and what their clients are getting for the money. Here's how advisors feel their firms are doing at providing fee disclosure support.
10. Freedom from Product Pushing
Many advisors are turned off by a firm's pressure to sell their proprietary products. But it doesn't seem to be at issue at these firms. Here's how they ranked in terms of freedom from pressure to push products.