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SEI Survey: Advisors More Optimistic About 2011 Than Their Clients

OAKS, Pa., Jan. 13, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Financial advisors are more optimistic about the economy than their clients heading into 2011, according to an SEI (Nasdaq: SEIC) Survey released today. Nearly one-third (30 percent) of advisors said they are "optimistic" heading into 2011; however, only 3 percent of advisors surveyed said their clients were optimistic. The advisor optimism is reflected in stock market projections among this group; more than half of advisors surveyed (60 percent) expect a stock market gain of greater than 7 percent. Advisors are also optimistic that 2011 will be a better year for their businesses than 2010.

"The markets have improved and the consensus in the industry is that things will continue to look up. The challenge for advisors now, is how best to grow their business," said Wayne Withrow, Executive Vice President and SEI Advisor Network Business Unit Leader. "As investor sentiment improves and they look for new investment solutions, advisors need to find ways to attract these individuals. It's critical that advisors have a deliberate strategy for doing this in order to grow their business."

"Across the board, investors are looking for greater clarity about their investments and a deeper understanding of their options. As advisors, that means we have to improve our communication with clients – both in frequency and quality," said Michael Ferman, CPA, Head of Rubin Brown Advisors of St. Louis, Missouri. "The differentiator among advisors will be those who are able to meet this need of increased client communication, without sacrificing other areas of their business."

The survey addressed four key areas heading into 2011: Economic Outlook, Business Outlook, Advisor-Client Relationship, and Top Priorities.

Economic Outlook

From an economic perspective, advisors are more optimistic about 2011 than they were about 2010. More than half of advisors surveyed (60 percent) expect a stock market gain of greater than 7 percent. Market pessimism appears limited to the bond markets as nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of advisors think there is at least a 50 percent probability of a "bond bubble burst." The area of concern for advisors is the Federal deficit. Advisors are mixed on how best to solve the deficit challenge: reduce current stimulus plans (31 percent), revisit healthcare reform (28 percent), or increase the retirement age (16 percent). (Every Friday, SEI's Investment Management Unit publishes market commentary for all audiences, which can be found in SEI's Knowledge Center at www.seic.com/knowledgecenter.)

Business Outlook

Advisors are optimistic that 2011 will be a better year for their business than 2010. The toughest part for 2010 was dealing with the below-expected revenue levels. However, advisors identified positives as well: the market uncertainty provided an opportunity to strengthen relationships, show their real value, and examine existing business processes and procedures. Top goals for advisors to increase revenues for 2011 are to proactively acquire clients using new initiatives (32 percent), increase efforts with centers of influence (25 percent), and continue their existing referral process (21 percent). More than half (55 percent) of advisors said the most important aspect to growing their business is getting referrals from existing clients. An additional measure of optimism was found in that a majority of advisors (73 percent) said they would recommend young professionals consider a career as a financial advisor. Despite the overall optimism, more than half (57 percent) of advisors said that managing business risk right now takes more time than it did during the financial collapse in 2008.

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