Why Financial Advisors Fire Clients
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) Have you ever received notice that your account was being transferred to a new (more than likely novice) broker? Or worse yet, to a firm's call center located a time zone or two away? If not, you may soon.
Financial advisors are working diligently to reduce their client rosters, and the reason for doing so is likely just exactly what you would expect: profitability.
The typical financial advisor serves 156 households as of the end of 2013, according to PriceMetrix, a financial practice management firm. That's down from an average of 165 household clients in 2011. Advisors are moving clients particularly those with less than $100,000 in investable assets out of their "books of business."
"Like any service professionals, financial advisors have a fixed amount of time in any period -- their capacity -- available to add new clients, to provide advice to existing clients, and administer their practices," says Doug Trott, president and CEO of PriceMetrix. "If you were to assume that it takes somewhere in the order of at least one to two hours per month to maintain an understanding of each client's objectives and to design and monitor an investment portfolio on behalf of each client, and that two thirds of an advisor's time is spent on client service, that would suggest that an advisor could maintain a range of 50 to 100 client relationships."
Trott says his personal experience in researching and dealing with the highest-achieving advisors reinforces that conclusion. "Anecdotally, I will share with you that the FAs that I meet with the strongest propositions and practices actively limit the number of households they will service, typically to 100 clients," he says. "They make themselves scarce, and commit to and deliver a strong service level to their 'members.'"
PriceMetrix's research shows that typically half of an FA's clients maintain low (less than $100,000) levels of investment assets with them, and the revenues generated by these clients represent less than 10% of an advisor's total revenues -- on average just $350 per year.
"Given that the average FA generates $578,000 annually, these clients are 'buying' six minutes of time a month," Trott says. "It is the case that they are likely receiving more than that amount of service, and so are uneconomic for the FA. It turns out these clients leave FAs at a rate of 10% a year. So the small clients are either deciding the service is insufficient, or the FA is deciding that the relationship is uneconomic."
"Prospective clients should always understand how many clients their financial advisor is servicing," Trott tells MainStreet. "Like most professionals, advisors have a fixed capacity to deliver service which means the more clients demanding their attention, the less of that attention you will get. You don't see 'one billion served' signs in front of [five] star restaurants."