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Edward Jones, Fidelity Top Investor-Satisfaction List

April 10, 2015

Edward Jones and Fidelity Investments tied for top spot in J.D. Power and Associates’ 2015 U.S. Full Service Investor Satisfaction Study, released on Thursday.

The report — based on a survey of “more than 5,300 investors who make some or all of their investment decisions with an investment advisor,” according to a J.D. Power press release — measures satisfaction with full-service firms on seven criteria, including quality of the advisor, fees, website, and problem resolution. On a 1,000-point scale, overall client satisfaction with employee-track brokerages is 807, just where it was a year ago.

Fidelity and Edward Jones top the list with scores of 812. Next come Charles Schwab and Wells Fargo, tied at 810. Raymond James rounds out the top five with a score of 809, followed by Ameriprise in a dead heat with the industry average of 807. Coming in below that mark are Merrill Lynch (804), Stifel Nicolaus (803), U.S. Bank (802), RBC Wealth Management (800), UBS Financial Services (783), LPL Financial (782) and Morgan Stanley (also 782).

For J.D. Power, the fact only 5 points separate the highest-ranking brokerages and the industry average means “there is a limited perception of differentiation with the client experience among industry firms.”

This sense of sameness also shows up in the investor perception that full-service advisors aren’t sufficiently engaged in their wealth-transfer strategies. With full-service-firm clients at the median age of 61, and with 71% ready to discuss their wealth-transfer needs with advisors, only 42% of them say their advisors have broached the topic. When FAs do ask about their clients’ transfer needs, overall investor satisfaction with their firms is higher — 854 points compared with 793 points for firms whose advisors don’t ask.

In plain terms, clients put a high value on advisors who can help them put their savings to work for beneficiaries. Mike Foy, head of J.D. Power’s wealth-management practice, suggests why. In the press release, he says investors “struggle in money-related conversations with their kids.” In this context, he adds, “an advisor is in a unique position to be a bridge between generations.”

By Thomas Coyle