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Fewer Small Accounts Mean More Production For Advisors: Study

Getting rid of smaller accounts could mean more production for advisors, according to a new study from PriceMetrix, a Toronto-based solutions provider for retail wealth managers.

The study looked at 15 of PriceMetrix’ client wealth management firms with more than 15,000 advisors that reduced the number of small households as a portion of their overall business, ranging from three percent to 14 percent, over the course of one year ending in August. For every one percent that advisors were able to reduce their proportion of small households, they generated approximately $7,700 in additional annual production, the study found.

What’s more, those firms that more aggressively reduced small household concentrations among their advisors added approximately $45,000 per advisor in production, according to the study.

In an earlier study released this summer, PriceMetrix reported that small households, which it defined as less than $100,000 in assets, do not justify the expense of being served in the traditional manner because there is not much chance they will grow into large accounts. In fact, according to the study, small households are 108 times more likely to leave an advisor than become a large account.

To whittle down the number of small accounts, senior executives participating in the most recent study reported using a variety of approaches, including financial incentives and disincentives for advisors; setting up special service centers for smaller accounts and financial disincentives for clients.

“Firms and advisors need to be confident about the upside of parting ways with small households,” Doug Trott, president and chief executive of PriceMetrix said in a statement. “Losing a non-productive client to make room to better serve priority clients will significantly contribute to the health of the business and to the advisors’ books.”

One firm participating in the study set up a service center with both salaried and variable compensation advisors who offer small households a limited product line, including mutual funds, bonds, ETFs, money market funds, and managed portfolios. Target compensation for the service center advisors was in the $100,000 range and consisted of salary plus access to a variable pool based on objectives achieved.

Another firm used financial disincentives to reduce small household concentration would not count revenues from small households in a bonus program in which an advisor can receive a firm-compensated, full-time sales assistant. In addition, if a senior and junior advisor at the firm team up to do succession planning, the senior advisor is not permitted to transfer small accounts to the junior advisor.

Hilliard Lyons, a Louisville, Ky.-based broker/dealer with approximately $28 billion in assets, focused more on practice management, said Chris Russell, senior vice president and director of professional development and training.

“We emphasized that advisors need to spend more time with their best clients,” Russell said. “Then they realize they’ve run out of time for the ‘B’ and ‘C’ level clients and have to decide if they should consolidate them or fid them a new home.”

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