Curian Capital, LLC ( www.Curian.com) has released the results of its fifth annual survey of more than 1,000 independent financial advisors appointed to sell Curian products. The survey, “2012 Outlook for Advisor Priorities,” highlights an increasing trend toward alternative investment and tactical asset allocation strategies to help mitigate a still-turbulent economic environment. The survey also found that product providers’ technology capabilities have a dramatic impact on advisors’ use of their products, with an overwhelming majority of the advisors surveyed reporting they prefer more sophisticated and high-quality platforms. The survey elicited responses from advisors in four main areas –– economic outlook; product selection and investment strategies; platforms and education; and practice management. Key findings of the survey include: Economic Outlook Advisors’ outlook on the global economy is split nearly evenly — 34 percent of respondents believe the economic crisis will get better in the near future, 32 percent believe the crisis will be long term and 34 percent were unsure. Given this striking disparity among advisors, it is likely they will have a significantly fractured approach to portfolio management strategies in the year ahead. The survey also found that government spending topped the list of advisors’ perceived threats to their clients’ retirement accounts at 35 percent, followed closely by market volatility at 31 percent. Last year, advisors said that not generating enough income to last through retirement was the biggest threat to their clients’ retirement plans; however, in this survey, 82% of respondents reported that they have the adequate income-generating investment products to meet their clients’ retirement needs. Product Selection and Investment Strategies Nearly two-thirds of advisors say that they have begun using more tactical asset allocation strategies to help mitigate market volatility, and more than half of respondents report they have begun using more alternative investing strategies. More than 60 percent of advisors also plan to increase their use of alternatives over the next year. Nearly 80 percent of those already using alternatives say their primary goal is to diversify and stabilize portfolio returns.
“As advisors shift to alternative asset classes in an effort to offset the fluctuating market, product providers must follow suit,” said Chris Rosato, senior vice president of strategic development for Curian. “The survey shows that advisors are seeking ways to manage risk and address volatility in their clients’ portfolios, and are increasingly moving toward solutions that allow for lower correlated assets and better diversification. We are finding that there is a growing movement to reproduce the success of the endowment model, as advisors are looking for ways to leverage those institutional benefits for their retail clients.”Platforms and Education An overwhelming majority (76 percent) of respondents say that the quality of a solution provider’s online resources has an impact on use of their products, preferring more sophisticated and high-quality online platforms. To meet this need, product providers must continue to develop effective digital platforms and resources that assist advisors in improving efficiencies and managing the asset allocation process. The survey also found that the majority of advisors (69 percent) say they rely on financial services companies for information on investing strategies, while only 5 percent of advisors depend on social media. “This survey shows that the quality of online capabilities, technology resources and educational components are paramount in advisors’ adoption of products,” said Rosato. “Providers have a responsibility to develop systems that are accessible and user-friendly. This type of support will only become more critical as the array of investment options become more diverse and complex across the industry.” Practice Management Advisor goals for practice management are largely consistent with past years’ surveys. When asked about their challenges for 2012, 77 percent of respondents said that acquiring more affluent clients was a major goal; more than half of respondents also selected improving efficiency and marketing their business as objectives for this year.
“Advisors are challenged to not only manage their clients’ portfolios, but also achieve success as business owners,” said Mark Schoenbeck, senior vice president of marketing for Curian. “While the economic crisis continues to play a major role in how advisors choose investments, it’s imperative that they are not only given access to the right products, but that they are supported with comprehensive education and guidance tools to help them achieve higher productivity and efficiency.”Curian distributed its 2012 Advisor Outlook Survey to independent advisors appointed to sell Curian products via email in November 2011. Results were collected via Zoomerang, and 153 firms are represented among the 1,009 respondents. To request a copy of the executive summary, please contact Melissa Hernandez at (303) 224-7572 or email@example.com. About Curian Capital Curian Capital, LLC ( www.Curian.com) is a registered investment advisor providing innovative fee-based separately managed accounts to financial professionals through a state-of-the-art technology platform. The company had $7.3 billion in assets under management as of 12/31/11. Curian Capital is an indirect subsidiary of Prudential plc (NYSE: PUK), a company incorporated and with its principal place of business in the United Kingdom. Prudential plc and its affiliated companies constitute one of the world's leading financial service groups. It provides insurance and financial services directly and through its subsidiaries and affiliates throughout the world. It has been in existence for more than 160 years and had more than $545 billion in assets under management as of 12/31/11. Prudential plc is not affiliated in any manner with Prudential Financial, Inc., a company whose principal place of business is in the United States of America. Curian Capital, LLC acts as the Registered Investment Advisor for Curian Custom Style Portfolios. Curian Clearing LLC (member FINRA/SIPC) is the exclusive broker for these programs, for which it provides brokerage execution, processing and custody services. Investing in securities involves certain risks, including possible loss of principal.