Eight Out Of Ten RIAs And Fee-Based Advisors Expect Their Firm’s Profitability To Increase In Next 12 Months

Louisville, KY – According to Jefferson National’s inaugural Advisor Authority study on innovative advisor behavior, Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs) and fee-based financial advisors are overwhelmingly optimistic about their business. The vast majority (81 percent) believe that over the next 12 months, the profitability of their practice will increase, while just three percent expect profitability to decrease. In addition, this online survey of 535 RIAs and fee-based advisors nationwide commissioned by Jefferson National and conducted in April by Harris Poll, examined three types of successful advisor who are setting the trends—the High Earning Advisor, the Advisor with High AUM, and the Tech Innovator—to identify the most effective strategies and top priorities to succeed in a competitive market.

“Our commitment to serving RIAs and fee-based advisors inspired us to launch this annual study to offer powerful insights and practical advice that every advisor can implement today to help build their business for the future,” says Mitchell H. Caplan, CEO of Jefferson National. “We learned that advisors thrive when they are dynamic and proactive—shifting strategies to capitalize on evolving investor demographics and rapid innovation of technology. Overwhelmingly bullish about their professional future, the most successful RIAs and fee-based advisors are embracing this change—and leading it.”

Tapping the Trendsetters

So who is best at meeting the demands of a changing industry? The study showed that the most successful advisors are the ones who are leveraging their insight and optimism to adopt new technology and recreate their approach to marketing.

“We know that the ability to earn trust, build and maintain strong client relationships, and provide holistic unbiased financial advice are all fundamental to building a successful practice as an RIA or fee-based advisor,” says Laurence Greenberg, President of Jefferson National. “Our research also shows that the most successful RIAs and fee-based advisors—those who earn more and manage more AUM—are forward thinkers, marketing innovators and technology adopters. It’s our goal to highlight this innovative mindset that is driving change in our industry.”

For example, when comparing the High Earning Advisor, defined as those earning more than $500K per year, to the broader population of RIAs and fee-based advisors, Jefferson National’s Advisor Authority highlights numerous distinctions, including:

  • 80% of High Earning Advisors are changing marketing strategies to attract the next generation of clients vs. 60% of All Advisors.
  • 90% of High Earning Advisors are adding new technology over next 12 months vs. 75% of All Advisors.
  • 82% of High Earning Advisors have a strategy to enhance technology integration vs. 61% of All Advisors.

Investing in an “Emerging Market” of New Clients

The broader population of RIAs and fee-based advisors said adding new clients is the single most important thing they will do to enhance the profitability of their practice over the next 12 months.  Cited by 31 percent of all respondents—well ahead of adding new technology (17 percent) and adding new hires (11 percent)—this suggests that marketing and prospecting are top priorities for many.

Likewise, RIAs and fee-based advisors have set their sights on an “emerging market” of new clients as Gen Xers are entering their prime earning years and poised to build more wealth, while Boomers are shifting from earning to retirement. When adding new clients, 43 percent select Generation X (age 35 to 50) as their primary target, well ahead of the 33 percent focusing on Baby Boomers (age 51 to 69). To attract this next generation, almost two-thirds of advisors have changed marketing strategies—and almost half are using social media as their top strategy. Meanwhile, nearly three-fourths of all advisors have a strategy in place to retain the heirs of their current clients, as an estimated $12 trillion of wealth is currently transferring to Boomers from their parents—while another $30 trillion will transfer from Boomers to their heirs in the coming decades.[i]

Adopting—and Mastering—Technology

The shifting technology landscape has also strongly influenced advisors. Three-quarters of RIAs and fee-based advisors have plans to integrate new technology into their practice over the next 12 months. Software applications (57 percent) top the list. It’s clear that going mobile is important, with advisors also giving high ranks to mobile applications (52 percent), smart phones (49 percent), tablets (49 percent) and cloud-based solutions (48 percent).

On average, advisors use 7.8 different software applications in their practice. And almost two-thirds of advisors evaluate their firm’s technology at least monthly, while 42 percent report evaluating it at least weekly. To help combat this “application overload,” the majority of advisors report that they have a strategy in place to improve or enhance the integration and consolidation of technology and software applications into their practice.


Jefferson National’s first annual Advisor Authority study addresses many more of the advising, investing and practice management challenges confronting RIAs and fee-based advisors—and the innovative techniques that they need to succeed in today’s competitive market. To download a copy of Advisor Authority, financial professionals can visit: www.jeffnat.com/advisorauthority.

For more information, please contact Greg Hassel at 212-840-1661 or [email protected], or Deborah Newman at 502-587-3858 or [email protected].



The Advisory Authority Survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of Jefferson National from April 13 – April 24, 2015 using a sample from the Harris Poll Panel of Financial Advisors. Among the 535 Financial Advisors, there were 343 Independent Registered Investment Advisors and 192 Broker/Dealers.  The study also examines three segments of successful advisors, which includes:

  • 97 High Earning Advisors—Those with personal yearly income from advisor business of over $500,000.
  • 85 Advisors with High AUM—Those who individually manage a total AUM of $250 million or more.
  • 96 Tech Innovators—Those advisors who will integrate new technology in the next 12 months, use 7+ software applications, have a strategy to enhance integration/consolidation of tech and software, and spend over $50,000 annually on technology.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. Because the sample is based on those who were invited to participate in the Harris Poll online research panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. A complete survey method, including weighting variables, is available upon request.


About Harris Poll

Over the last 5 decades, Harris Polls have become media staples.  With comprehensive experience and precise technique in public opinion polling, along with a proven track record of uncovering consumers’ motivations and behaviors, Harris Poll has gained strong brand recognition around the world. Contact us for more information.


About Jefferson National

Jefferson National is a recognized innovator of a leading tax-advantaged investing platform for RIAs, fee-based advisors and the clients they serve. Trusted partner to a network of 3,000 advisors, Jefferson National provides greater efficiency, transparency and choice through an adaptable technology platform, award-winning distribution strategy and cost-effective servicing capabilities.  Named the industry “Gold Standard” and winner of more than 45 industry awards, including the DMA 2010 Financial Services Company of the Year. The company serves advisors and clients nationwide, through its subsidiaries Jefferson National Life Insurance Company and Jefferson National Life Insurance Company of New York. To reach our advisor support desk, please call 1-866-WHY-FLAT (1-866-949-3528). To learn more, please visit www.jeffnat.com.


[i] The “Greater” Wealth Transfer: Capitalizing on the Intergenerational Shift in Wealth, Accenture, 2012.