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At the 2017 Money Management Institute annual conference last month, a panel of distribution leaders mentioned that many advisors are being asked for a meeting by 10 or even 20 wholesalers every day. In response to this, advisors are pushing back by restricting access to wholesalers, in turn placing a premium on the interactions that do take place, panelists noted.

These comments led to an interesting discussion about how asset managers need to change their distribution tactics to better meet advisor needs. I’m a very strong believer in the need for change, which we highlight in our latest advisor research. But I did wonder, Is it really true that advisors are inundated by meeting requests?

So I wanted to go through a little thought exercise here: By my count, there aren’t more than 5,000 asset management wholesalers in the U.S. Let’s say that the average wholesaler completes 600 meetings a year—that’s 3 million meetings. That’s a lot.

However, there are at least 125,000 advisors in the U.S.—also a lot. And if you spread those meetings across all of those advisors, you get 24 meetings per advisor—for the whole industry—per year.

That’s a lot less than 20 meetings a day. In fact, it’s more like one meeting every other week, which doesn’t seem overwhelming. So what’s the disconnect between these figures and what distribution leaders are feeling?

It is, of course, the fact that not all advisors are created equal: Fewer than 20% of 125,000 advisors represent more than 60% of all the assets. And it’s those advisors (and advisor teams) that are the focus for the vast majority of asset manager wholesale teams. So while the average advisor might be sought out for only 24 external wholesaler meetings a year, by our estimates, the advisors with the largest books of business are pursued for roughly 200 meetings a year. Those are the advisors who feel overwhelmed by wholesaler outreach.

This thought exercise led me to three conclusions about how asset managers target advisors:

  1. It’s not true that all financial advisors are overwhelmed by industry outreach. In fact, we see that in feedback we’ve collected from advisors.

  2. As an asset manager, it’s important to uniquely prioritize advisors. If you use the same value-based segmentation that everyone else does, you’re very likely to be competing for shelf space with dozens upon dozens of other firms.

  3. It’s still important to have alternate routes to advisors, and offers and content that resonate. Even if you have a deeply unique segmentation, you’ll still compete heavily for attention with at least some advisors, and you’ll need a way to break through when you do. And that’s where the ideas and tactics uncovered in our connection quotient research, which offers best practices for building more personal asset manager-advisor relationships, become so powerful.

Curious what you are up against? ZS created a simple calculator to estimate how many external wholesaler meetings are being sought annually from your typical advisor client. Email us at web@zs.com to request a copy


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Topics: financial advisors, asset management, asset managers, Financial Services