Advisory firms are gearing up for growth in 2013. According to the latest TD Ameritrade Institutional Advisor Index survey of 502 independent registered investment advisors (RIAs), 97 percent report total number of clients increased or remained steady over the past six months. Nearly nine in 10 RIAs expect a faster asset under management (AUM) growth rate in 2013. Advisors indicated they will implement a variety of strategic planning initiatives to prepare for their firm’s growth over the next six months. Conducting internal strategic planning discussions (67 percent), using benchmarking studies and whitepapers for guidance (37 percent) and conducting workshops sponsored by custodians or other vendors (20 percent) top the list of tactics advisors are planning. “RIAs find themselves in an interesting paradigm – a challenging business environment combined with an unprecedented opportunity,” said Jim Dario, managing director of product management, TD Ameritrade Institutional 1. “Many leading firms have seized the opportunity and created dynamic, fast growing and profitable enterprises by identifying the cost drivers in their businesses. RIAs are able to build long-term value for their firm by leveraging technology that delivers consistent client service and scales with firm growth.” Advisors’ Top Strategic InitiativesAdvisors surveyed say deploying technology to increase scale (63 percent), systematizing client service and delivery (58 percent) and training and developing staff skills (58 percent) are top strategic initiatives for growth over the next six months. Investing in TechnologyInvesting in technology (63 percent) is the top infrastructure investment advisors plan to make over the next six months to accommodate business growth. Advisors surveyed also plan to invest in customer relationship management tools (33 percent), performance reporting tools (31 percent) and mobile devices (28 percent). “Adopting new technologies alone will not create office efficiencies, improve client service or provide a pathway to more profitable growth,” added Dario. “These solutions will need to be integrated within a firm’s workflows and adopted by staff members as part of their day-to-day responsibilities to ensure consistency and effective impact on business processes.”
RIAs Attracting New Clients Through ReferralsAdvisors report a majority (86 percent) of growth opportunities come from referrals including client referrals (56 percent), center-of-influence referrals (17 percent) and third-party referrals (11 percent). To attract new clients, RIAs are considering new niche clients (34 percent), adding new markets (26 percent) and adding new expertise (26 percent).“Not only are top firms proactive in developing referrals, they are also using technology to systematize the referral process through the use of CRM dashboards and business analytics tools,” said Dario. “By knowing precisely where each referral opportunity is in the sales pipeline, advisors can nurture each prospect step-by-step with a timely and thoughtful communications approach.” Advisor HeadwindsIncreased compliance requirements (57 percent), regulatory changes (56 percent) and an aging client base (56 percent) were identified as potential headwinds to long-term growth. To challenge any headwinds, 40 percent of advisors plan on increasing marketing and business development spending in the next six months to bolster potential growth. Many advisors (71 percent) indicated that they were not considering merger and acquisition activities as part of their growth strategy. Of the few advisors that are considering M&A activities over the next six months, acquiring another firm (14 percent) or adding new partners or owners (13 percent) to their firm were identified as top strategies among RIAs. For more information about the TD Ameritrade Institutional Advisor Index Survey, visit http://www.amtd.com/newsroom/research.cfm to download the complete survey findings. For more information about technology, practice management and human capital resources, please visit www.maximizemyriabusiness.com. Survey MethodologyThese results are based on a survey conducted by Maritz, Inc. on behalf of TD Ameritrade Institutional, a division of TD Ameritrade, Inc. Five-hundred and two registered investment advisors (“RIAs”) participated in a telephone survey from Dec. 15, 2012 – Jan. 11, 2013. Independent RIAs who custody with TD Ameritrade Institutional, as well as other independent RIAs from across the country were asked to share their views on the economic outlook for their firms and the advisor market in general. The margin of error in this survey is ±4.4%. This means that in 19 cases out of 20, survey results based on 502 respondents will differ by no more than 4.4 percentage points in either direction from what would have been obtained by seeking the opinions of all eligible RIAs. About MaritzSt. Louis-based Maritz is a sales and marketing services company, which helps companies achieve their full potential through understanding, enabling, and motivating employees, channel partners, and customers. Maritz provides market and customer research, communications, learning solutions, incentive initiatives, rewards and recognition, effective meeting, event and incentive travel management services, and customer loyalty programs. For more information, visit www.maritz.com or contact us at 1-877-4MARITZ. About TD Ameritrade InstitutionalTD Ameritrade Institutional 1 is a leading provider of comprehensive brokerage and custody services to more than 4,500 fee-based, independent registered investment advisors and their clients. Our advanced technology platform, coupled with personal support from our dedicated service teams, allows investment advisors to run their practices more efficiently and effectively while optimizing time with clients. About TD Ameritrade Holding CorporationMillions of investors and independent registered investment advisors (RIAs) have turned to TD Ameritrade’s (NYSE: AMTD) technology, people and education to help make investing and trading easier to understand and do. Online or over the phone. In a branch or with an independent RIA. First-timer or sophisticated trader. Our clients want to take control, and we help them decide how - bringing Wall Street to Main Street for more than 36 years. TD Ameritrade has time and again been recognized as a leader in investment services. Please visit TD Ameritrade’s newsroom or www.amtd.com for more information. Brokerage services provided by TD Ameritrade, Inc., member FINRA ( www.FINRA.org) /SIPC ( www.SIPC.org) /NFA ( www.nfa.futures.org) 1TD Ameritrade Institutional is a division of TD Ameritrade, Inc., a brokerage subsidiary of TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation. Maritz, Inc. and TD Ameritrade, Inc. are separate, unaffiliated companies and are not responsible for each other's products and services.