Industry Insights: Industry Players by Advisor Headcount
When first starting out in the industry, you may be curious about which firms are the dominant players. Sure, you are probably familiar with the big names like Merrill Lynch and Wells Fargo, but quantifying their role – and impact – in the market is a bit different.
There are a variety of ways to measure market position, of course. Today we look at how firms stack up by advisor headcount.
Total advisor estimates vary rather widely. Cerulli Associates estimates there are around 300,000 financial advisors in the United States. Michael Kitces recently explained why this figure is likely overstated with a more meaningful figure around 80,000.
Regardless, below are a handful of the better-known firms and their respective advisor headcounts to provide a general lay of the land:
17,355 – Merrill Lynch.
16,109 – LPL Financial.
16,000 – Edward Jones.
15,712 – Morgan Stanley.
14,400 – Wells Fargo.
9,931 – Ameriprise.
9,000 – Mass Mutual.
7,800 – Raymond James.
7,500 – Charles Schwab.
6,822 – UBS.
5,507 – J.P. Morgan.
2,244 – Stifel.
1,800 – Waddell & Reed.
1,800 – RBC Wealth Management.
1,237 – Fisher Investments.
1,048 – Cetera Advisors.
922 – Vanguard Personal Advisor Services.
900 – XYPN Network.
592 – Edelman Financial Engines.
“Financial Planning Articles” is a collection of articles and research that I’ve been reading regarding financial planning, industry trends, career development, and more. *** This installment of Financial Planning Articles actually begins with two insightful podcasts (with transcripts) from Michael Kitces. The first interviews Kenneth Robinson of Practical Financial Planning and covers a range of valuable topics including credibility benefits from targeting a niche from your previous profession, using a Founders Club to refine your process at launch (and to potentially gain your first clients), and the value of working with a coach. The second podcast was actually just released today and highlights how Peter Lazaroff has been able to develop and leverage his personal brand throughout his career. Kitces and Lazaroff dive into numerous helpful topics including how to begin building your brand, how to ensure your brand complements versus competes with your firm’s brand, and the importance of being on the same page with your compliance officer. The first “true” article comes to us from Jacqueline Sergeant with FA-mag.com. Sergeant highlights a report from Spectrum Group on high-income millennials’ preferences regarding what services they prioritize in an advisor, how they define the American dream, and the financial concerns that keep them up at night. Hopefully, only New Year’s celebrations will be keeping you up tonight and Caleb Brown of New Financial Planner Recruiting provides some good advice to take into the new year in our next article. Brown put together a list of tips and principles for new and early-career advisors to help ensure success. Speaking of the new year, the final article this week comes from outside the industry and covers goal-setting (not resolutions). Noah Kagan, founder of popular Sumo.com and AppSumo.com, covers his process of reviewing and planning for the new year (for both personal and business goals). Kagan explains his “WWPP” process along with how to come up with a “word-of-the-year.” I hope you enjoy. What I’m Reading: Career-Changing Into Financial Planning By Creating A Niche Serving Your Former Profession, with Kenneth Robinson (Michael Kitces, Kitces.com) “And there’s another really crucial part of this, Michael, which a lot of people don’t think about. I was thinking about it at the time in terms of marketing. Who can I market to where, are they going to laugh me out of the room because, you know, here I’ve just switched careers from public service, I have zero clients, and then my first clients are people who I was friends with already? But what I hadn’t thought about very consciously at the time and on reflection that was really important is, who do I believe I can be credible with? You know, when I imagine myself saying, “Hi, I’m ready to be your financial planner,” I’ve got to believe that.” Building Your Own Personal Brand To Complement And Not Compete With Your Advisory Firm, with Peter Lazaroff (Michael Kitces, Kitces.com) “…everybody I spoke to I said, “A deal breaker is a personal blog. I’m not going somewhere where I can’t have a personal blog. It’s really important to me. I know I can build my audience, I know I can get more media mentions. I know I can get more visitors. I think it’s going to be a key part of my business development strategy.” Millennials Searching For Guidance In Meeting Financial Goals (Jacqueline Sergeant, FA-mag.com) “The report noted that high-income millennials are using advisors (49%) and 64% of that number seeks help from one advisor, while 25% utilizes two advisors.” Developing The Right Mindset (Caleb Brown, New Planner Recruiting) “I will be aware that I am unproved and that the person who hires and/or mentors me is taking a risk, and that I am far from knowing all I need to know to be a successful financial planner even though I have a degree in financial planning.” Goals (Noah Kagan, OkDork.com) “I’ve learned these strategies from years of trial-and-error — and lots of conversations with 8-figure entrepreneurs. This strategy has helped me grow Sumo and AppSumo into 8-figure businesses, create a podcast, do crazy experiments like Ayahuasca, and more. … What sticks out to you about your story? Find your theme, turn it into a single word, and use that as your Word of the Year. Your Word of the Year is your mantra. A simple and repeatable word.” ***
“Book Notes” is a collection of notes from books relevant to entering the industry and practicing financial planning. *** Note: For a series introduction and an explanation of my interest in the book, check out this page with my notes on the first three chapters. *** Chapter 13: Massive Action In Chapter 13, Cardone introduces his 10X principle which has become one of his core principles. He begins the chapter by opining that most people underestimate the amount of work it takes to reach their goals. Next, he describes his view on four different types of action. He goes on to note the benefits of taking massive action and to expect pushback on your efforts from fellow salespeople. Finally, he explains his 10X rule and drives the point home with several analogies and examples. “Most people incorrectly estimate the amount of effort it takes to get the results they want. When it comes to taking action, never think in terms of balance; always think in terms of massive amounts of action.” “It’s been said that there are three kinds of action in life: 1. The right action 2. The wrong action 3. No action (which will always result in nothing) And in my world there’s a fourth kind of action: 4. Massive action!” “Production results in happiness. … People feel better when they are producing, and the more production they generate, the better they will feel.” “Your fellow salespeople, however, may praise you only with criticism, tell you that you’re working too hard, and give you free advice like ‘Slow down – smell the roses.’ Disregard them and consider their suppressive comments to be a sign that you are on the right track. Just continue to add wood to your fire.” “If you want one thing, take massive action equal to at least ten times what you think it will take to ensure that you attain that one thing. If you do that, you won’t have to hope, wish, cross your fingers, or pray for what you want.” “A farmer should plant far more than he can possibly eat so that if a drought or famine occurs he can still take care of his family and his neighbors.” Chapter 14: The Power Base Chapter 14 covers who to focus your sales efforts on initially. Not surprisingly, it is the people who already know you. This is an uncomfortable approach for many in financial services. However, to Cardone’s credit, he does qualify his recommendation in that his goal is to only actually propose a sale to those who would benefit from the service. He begins the chapter by describing this “power base” of relationships and how to “build” it. Next, he addresses the mental obstacles so often encountered with this approach. Lastly, he talks about why existing customers should be a primary focus and the importance of maintaining those relationships. “Everyone has a base of power in their life where things are familiar and known. Typically, it starts with one’s family and friends. … “Your power base is made up of the people who will be happy to hear from you and want to know what you’re up to.” “Your power base includes, but is not limited to, friends, family members, associates at past jobs, past employers, current and former clients, members of clubs, neighbors… Let them know what you’re up to and find out when you can meet with them to catch up. The purpose of the meeting is not to sell them… The purpose is to get in contact with them and to work on restoring your power base.” “Each of the people you know will have at least ten people in their own power base who can benefit from what you’re selling or the service that you’re offering.” “People want to help people that they know. Put away any reservations that you have and contact them. Get rid of that silly idea that you’ll be imposing on the relationship.” “Existing customers are the easiest sale to make, and I always prefer them over a brand-new prospect. …it’s easier for [former customers] to make a decision with someone they’ve done business with before. … People find comfort in familiarity.” “I can assure you that if you don’t’ stay in touch with your power base, including your previous customers, you’ll never attain power in your business. Never neglect your former customers!” Chapter 15: Time Finally, in Chapter 15, Cardone addresses the importance of managing one of our most valuable and limited resources: time. To begin, he challenges readers who tell themselves that their results are simply a matter of not having enough time. Then he tells a story of what led him to make a change in his calendar to significantly boost his productive hours per year. Next, he encourages the read to start tracking their time to be able to manage it better. Finally, he covers why eating out for lunch is important and the net benefit of eating with prospects over the course of the year. “The fact is, you have the same amount of time as everyone else; you just aren’t using it efficiently. We all have the same 24-hour days..” “I made it a firm policy that if I wasn’t eating with clients or potential clients, I’d eat lunch in my office while I called clients.” “Starting today, I want you to take a look at how much time you waste in a day. … He who makes the most of his time will accomplish the most.” “My rule is if they work with me, they won’t buy from me, and so that excludes them from spending lunch with me.” “Today, I invest breakfast, lunchtime, and dinner with buyers, prospects, and even long shots. … Even when I’m not taking a customer to lunch, I’ll frequent places where I’ve got a shot at being seen, where lots of people go, or where I might just luck out and run into someone who will buy from me.” “That brown bag lunch you made to save yourself $10 will cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost sales. Go out, be seen, mix it up, and put yourself In the game.” ***
“Book Notes” is a collection of notes from books relevant to entering the industry and practicing financial planning. *** Note: For a series introduction and an explanation of my interest in the book, check out this page with my notes on the first three chapters. *** Chapter 10: Establishing Trust Cardone begins this chapter by reminding readers of the skepticism buyers typically feel towards salespeople – and whose responsibility it is to handle that distrust to make the sale. He goes on to explain when individuals should address the trust issue and his preferred way to increase credibility. “Distrust in the sales cycle is not the buyer’s problem, but yours!” “Prospects do not make sales, either. It is the salesperson’s job to make the sale. Whether or not the sale happens is entirely up to the salesperson, not the prospect.” “If an element of distrust exists…you must handle the distrust first.” “People believe what they see, not what they hear. Always have your presentation, proposals, and prices in writing for your buyers so they can see it with their own eyes.” … “If it’s in writing, it becomes more real to him.” Chapter 11: Give, Give, Give Next, Cardone gets at the heart of what many feel has been wrong with the financial advice industry – a focus on commissions. He encourages readers to give their full attention to their prospects and commit to a service mindset. Driving this point home, he challenges readers to assess whether they are offering a “Holiday Inn” or a “Ritz Carlton”-level of service. Finally, he explains that committing to serving (versus selling) has several benefits. “Selling is the act of giving, not getting; serving, not selling. Unfortunately, most people in sales are looking for their commission and what they’re going to get out of the deal rather than what they’re going to give, what their product really offers, and how the client will benefit.” “The best salespeople I’ve ever met were not the fast-talking guys, but the most service-oriented ones.” “Service is the only way to higher prices and less competition.” “If you elevate your level of service above the rest of the market, your customers will quit shopping the price.” “If you incorporate these simple truths about giving and providing stellar service, I assure you that you’ll become a master of your trade. You’ll experience a confidence that you cannot put any value on, and that is worth more than money itself.” Chapter 12: The Hard Sell Finally, Cardone begins Chapter 12 with his own definition of “hard selling” and clarifies what it does not mean. He goes on to provide his formula for hard selling and highlights the importance of practicing handling objections. “The salesperson must be willing to persist even when it gets hard, difficult, or uncomfortable. That’s what I mean by ‘hard sell.’” “I’m not talking about pressuring the buyer. I’m talking about being willing to get to that hard place in the close where everyone gets a little bit comfortable. The salesperson must be willing to stay in the deal and persist through to the close because he believes deep down inside that the product or service is right for the buyer.” “There are only two things that can get you to the point of being a true professional hard-sell closer: (1.) You must believe that what you’re offering is the right thing for the prospect. (2.) You must be trained to stay in the close no matter what happens. You’ll need to be armed with an arsenal of ways to handle stalls, emotional reactions, and objections.” “The more you practice handling objections, the more natural you’ll sound.” ***