Tuesday, November 19, 2019 Stamford, CT USA — A groundbreaking study by Greenwich Associates of more than 10,000 Financial Advisors reveals an industry with a nearly insatiable appetite for information that can help capture opportunities arising from generational wealth transfer and other societal trends, while fending off competition from both human and robo advisors.

The study shows that financial advisors are hungry for reliable information they can use to inform their own decisions and those of their clients. That’s good news for the many asset managers and other content providers trying to capture the attention—and client assets—of U.S. financial advisors.

The bad news, however, is that Financial Advisors today are inundated with content and information from managers, third-party providers, news outlets and social media.

“Cutting through the noise requires not just great content, but also an understanding of the vast differences among financial advisors in terms of demographics, client bases, habits, worries, and other categories,” says Dan Connell, Managing Director in Greenwich Associates Market Structure and Technology Group and co-author of Financial Advisors: The Next Generation.

Based on the data, four financial advisor segments emerged: Expanders, Performers, Cultivators, and Cruisers. Each segment is defined by the mindset of the financial advisor, rather than simply their tenure or AUM.

  • Expanders strive to grow their AUM by expanding the number of clients they service. Despite their broad client lists, these relationships are typically lower touch in nature and thus more susceptible to fee pressure. Expanders use their technology stack efficiently, especially with regard to client communications tools and CRM systems.
  • Performers have an old-school dedication to fact-based investing. These Financial Advisors are primarily defined by the successful performance of their clients. Performers, based on their motivations and competitive mindset, are more likely to use advanced risk management tools as well as research tools that incorporate predictive analytics.
  • Cultivators are people persons. They are driven by their relationships with their clients with a key goal of building long-term, ideally multi-generational relationships. They are challenged by maintaining a client list and managing risk. They will typically employ advanced planning tools and incorporate estate planning, tax consultation and other financial planning services into their offering. 
  • Cruisers are motivated to maintain their business as retirement approaches. They’re driven primarily by transitioning their business and finding potential replacements. Although not the most technologically savvy, Cruisers depend on technology to assist with compliance and, more recently, document management.

These segments prove particularly useful when trying to make connections with financial advisors via research and other content. “Information from the right brand, on the right topic, in the right format, delivered at the opportune time will catch an advisor’s attention—even in a sea of blog posts and news reports,” says Brad Tingley, Market Structure and Technology Analyst at Greenwich Associates and co-author of the report.

Financial Advisors: The Next Generation 
In addition to this enhanced Financial Advisor segmentation, the report presents a wealth of data on changes in the advisor landscape (wirehouses versus independent Advisors, etc.), industry diversity and technology. It also includes Advisors’ feedback on financial research from asset managers and other providers, their preferred methods of accessing financial news, views toward social media, and their detailed rankings of specific news sources in terms of breadth of coverage, accuracy and objectivity. The survey analysis was also developed in partnership with Bloomberg Media Group.