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Intelligent Advisor

Should Advisors Emulate Wal-Mart’s One-Stop Model?

The one-stop shopping concept popularized by big box retailers seems to be seeping into the financial services world. These days, most consumers don’t just want help with their 401(k); they want to work with advisors who provide complete guidance based on their total financial situation, according to a new survey published Tuesday by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards.

In a survey of over 1,000 U.S. consumers, 91 percent say they expect advisors to look at their entire financial picture when handing out advice. Of those surveyed, only 30 percent said they wanted to work with an advisor specializing in one subject like a retirement specialist or a life insurance expert.

The CFP Board also found consumers value an advisors’ financial planning knowledge above all else—even ethics—when selecting who to work with. Almost half of consumers look for advisors with strong financial planning skills, while only 20 percent looked first at advisors’ ethical standards.

Breaking it down further, younger clients are more likely to seek out knowledgeable advisors than retirees, who were the only segment where over a third noted ethics were the most important factor.  Meanwhile, only 17 percent of consumers look for experience and only 11 percent value the ability to offer financial products the most. 

Certifications also play a huge role, with 84 percent of consumers saying it’s an important factor when choosing an advisor. Further, over two thirds of consumers place a higher value on certifications that encompass multiple disciplines.

“As Americans’ finances become more and more complex, they are turning to advisers who can partner with them, look at their total financial picture, put all the pieces together and provide a comprehensive financial plan,” CFP Board CEO Kevin Keller says. The survey was conducted earlier this month among a national sample of 1,012 adults over the age of 18.

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