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Elite Advisors Weigh In on Money-Manager Support

October 17, 2014

Ignites Research is out with a briefing on how, strictly in terms of support services, elite wealth advisors rate the asset managers many of them rely on for investment products.

For the RIA view, the researchers surveyed the FT 300, the Financial Times’s proprietary list of top independent RIAs (average assets under management: $2.8 billion). For the brokerage perspective, it polled members of the FT 400, the newspaper’s list of top broker-dealer advisors (average assets under management: $1.3 billion). The surveys — conducted in August and September — asked participants to rate asset-manager support services in three categories: websites, market commentary and thought leadership, and “value add” programs. The last category touches on issues such as client communication and strategies for market segmentation and practice differentiation.

When it comes to websites, these top advisors applaud clearly labeled and intuitive prompts to information they can use. Among RIA-based advisors, the top picks are Vanguard, Fidelity and Dimensional Fund Advisors. Among brokers, BlackRock, American Funds and Vanguard lead the way.

For market commentary and other forms of thought leadership, the advisors prize asset-manager views that provide a range of perspectives aimed at educating advisors and clients alike — and they like it when this information comes on a regular and predictable basis. For RIA advisors, the best content providers are Pimco — by quite a bit — followed by Vanguard and JPMorgan. For brokers, the top teachers are BlackRock, Pimco and American Funds.

The race is closer — and the approval rates lower — when it comes to practice-management consulting, aka value-add services. Among advisors at elite RIAs, the top providers are Dimensional Fund Advisors, BlackRock and Vanguard. Among top-tier brokers, the consulting gold medal goes to BlackRock, followed by JPMorgan and Lord Abbett.

For the RIA-based advisors surveyed, the asset managers with the best overall ancillary services are Vanguard, Pimco and BlackRock. For brokers, the overall winners were BlackRock, Pimco and American Funds. In a reference to the recent departure of cofounder Bill Gross from Pimco, Ignites Research says, “It will be interesting to see Pimco’s standing in market commentary after six to 12 months of the post-Gross team.”

Like FA-IQ, Ignites Research is a service of the Financial Times.

By Thomas Coyle
  • To read the Ignites Research article cited in this story, click here if you have a paid subscription.