KING OF PRUSSIA, PA – July 21, 2022 – According to new research from The American College of Financial Services, seven in 10 financial advisors self-identify as successful in their field, and advisors of both genders (and at all success levels) uniformly cite trust, individual effort and specialized knowledge as the three most important influences on achieving success.
The study invited participating advisors to evaluate their success on a seven-point self-scoring scale – defining a continuum from low to highly successful – and asked whether advisors were meeting their business objectives to establish a means to adequately gauge levels of achievement.
Link between meeting business objectives and more success
One of the most striking findings from the research report is that meeting business and growth objectives closely correlates with being successful. In fact, only 28.4% of respondents who were not meeting objectives defined themselves as successful, while 90% of those meeting objectives were defined as successful. According to one successful female advisor, in an open-ended response: “You get out of this career what you put into this career. It’s your business. Own the success or failure.”
“Showcasing success attributes of current female practitioners can help attract more women to the business and aid them in achieving their short- and long-term career goals,” said Hilary Fiorella, executive director of the Center for Women in Financial Services. “Through this research, we sought to understand what drives advisors’ success, as it can provide valuable guidance to women (and men) considering this profession. The findings can arm firms with the insights and tools to better support the underrepresented female advisor group by understanding what success looks like as well as the unique challenges they face.”
Nearly eight in 10 of respondents who indicated they were not meeting their objectives elaborated on why in a follow-up question. Responses revealed business development (31%), the Covid-19 pandemic (17%) and systemization (16%) as the top themes for not meeting business objectives.
Nuances of success factors across genders
Interestingly, while there is a consensus among advisors at all levels on the prerequisites of success as earning trust and working hard, female respondents were more apt to credit some portion of their success to others (e.g., ability to communicate and external support received) than were men. Conversely, men emphasized individual effort more than women. Among the other findings:
Women were more likely than men to identify interpersonal professional relationships and experiences as foundational to their career success and credited tools such as mentoring, team structure, work/life balance, and home office resources as important contributors to their success.
Men, on the other hand, more frequently referenced relationships as a reinforcement to their already-established sense of success rather than as a contributing factor to it.
Challenges to success
When asked to identify the greatest challenges that could limit their ability to succeed as an advisor, respondents most frequently cited “finding new clients” (46.3%) and “hiring qualified staff” (42.6%). Male advisors slightly outpaced their female counterparts (52.8% vs. 41.8%) in terms of desire/need to find new clients, but beyond client acquisition, challenges to success tracked relatively closely by gender:
Doing more with current clients (females: 23%; males: 27%)
For more successful respondents, the most frequently cited difficulties did not vary by gender, led by hiring qualified staff (females: 53%; males: 48%), acquiring new clients (females: 38%; males: 47%) and increasing productivity (females: 37%; males: 35%).
Support and resources desired
The survey also asked what support/resources would be most useful to advisors at this stage in their careers. Just as client acquisition was one of the top challenges identified by survey respondents, a majority said finding new clients was also first on the list of areas in which advisors want more help. Nearly six in 10 (58%) advisors cited access to high-net-worth clients as the most useful support they could receive.
Breaking this down further among female advisors:
Half (50%) of female respondents reported access to high-net-worth clients as an area of needed support, chosen more than any other response
Additional formal education or credentialing (43%) and technology (40%) rounded out the top three areas where support is desired among female advisors
Study groups (37%) and mentoring (37%) rounded out the top sought after resources
Among women identifying as less successful advisors, more than half (52%) cited mentoring and study group opportunities when asked what support/resources they desired, showcasing the importance of knowledge sharing and support to enable growth and success.
“These insights highlight an opportunity for the industry to deliver the necessary resources, guidance and support advisors need to succeed,” said Kaylee Ranck, research director of the Center for Women in Financial Services. “The financial services industry has room for continued growth and expansion of professional development programs such as specialized knowledge, mentorship and study groups – primarily for female advisors – to support their individual needs on the path to success.”
For more information about the Advisors’ Perceptions of Success Survey and the Center for Women in Financial Services, visit WomenWorkinginWealth.org.