While the quality of the investment products is critical, there is also no shortage. For many advisors, their selection of and connection to investment products is due to their wholesaler. Over the last two decades, selecting talented individuals as wholesalers and empowering them with diverse resources has increasingly become the norm.
The issue then becomes how money management firms, through their wholesalers, most effectively support advisors. Based on a 2023 survey of 421 advisors, wholesalers sharing industry best practices is in high demand irrespective of advisor income (see Exhibit).
Exhibit: Preferred-Value From Wholesalers By Advisor Income
|Sharing industry best practices||78.8%||77.9%||78.7%||78.4%|
|Practice management programs||31.1%||32.8%||20.2%||29.5%|
|Advanced planning support||18.2%||36.9%||12.8%||25.7%|
When sharing best practices, the problem is confusing benchmarking and best practices. The former is what advisors do, and the latter is what they need to do to excel. Therefore, in sharing best practices, wholesalers must be able to draw a direct, straight line between their recommendations and business success.
About half the advisors are interested in coaching. However, coaching from wholesalers is more appealing to advisors earning less. Although previous research has shown that advisors at almost every level of wealth have an interest in coaching, the issue here is the ability of the wholesaler to provide the insights and skills in the context of a coaching methodology advisors need to accelerate their success.
About 44% of advisors are interested in marketing programs, but there is greater interest among those advisors earning less. Such programs must prove their value, defined by advisors getting new clients with investable assets. Around a third of the advisors want practice management programs, and there is a more balanced breakout based on income. Other forms of value-added are overall less critical, and advisor income does make a difference.
According to one of the originators of value-added wholesaling, Brett Van Bortel, director of consulting services with Invesco Global Consulting and co-author of Street-Smart Networking: How Financial and Legal Professionals Can Cultivate Centers of Influence for a Flood of New Affluent Clients, “One of the major complications of all the money management firms aiming to provide advisors support through wholesalers is that there’s a lot of noise. With many money management firms embracing value-added wholesaling, competition has become intense for developing and providing resources that can make a significant difference to advisors. For example, there are dozens of programs for advisors to get new clients from COIs, but few work well. Many advisors cannot tell the difference among the various programs beforehand, so if they end up with one that doesn’t work, they often walk away not believing any of them can work.”
High-quality wholesalers are often essential with volatile markets and greater commoditization of investment products. Moreover, money management firms must not only embrace value-added wholesaling. They must ensure what they are providing are industry best practices.