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The state of North American retail wealth management

Nothing will pay more dividends in the long run than serving as trusted advisors and guiding clients through the months ahead. Financial advice has never been more important.

As the COVID-19 pandemic plays out, the human tragedy is clear, but the end-state impact on populations, governments, and financial markets remains unknown. The crisis is also presenting unprecedented challenges to North America’s wealth managers. The relationships between advisors and clients will be tested in the months ahead, as advisors are called upon to bring strength, stability, and perspective to their clients when they need it most.

The positive news is that advisors entered this difficult period from a position of strength. A prolonged period of growth followed the last bear market, as advisors reached record levels of assets and revenues in 2019. Over the course of the last decade, many advisors changed how they work with clients. With digital entrants and lower-cost service offerings challenging the value of portfolio construction and monitoring, advisors responded by recentering their propositions on more comprehensive planning for more complex clients. They’ve also transformed how they get paid, with more than two-thirds of revenues coming from asset-based fees, compared to one-third just ten years ago. Relationships are deeper, client retention rates have peaked, and advisors are more resilient than ever.

In the latest edition of our annual State of Retail Wealth Management, available for download below, we look at how the decisions made by financial advisors over the past decade have prepared them to endure the path ahead. We’ll also reflect on some lessons learned from the 2008 financial crisis that can help advisors succeed in a less than certain future.

This report is based on the PriceMetrix proprietary database collected from more than 25 wealth-management firms in North America. Our data is built from detailed client holdings and transaction information from 65,000 financial advisors 1 . Because data is refreshed continuously, PriceMetrix offers an unmatched view into the behaviors and characteristics of wealth-management clients, and insights into how advisor decisions affect growth and client outcomes. Unless otherwise noted, all data is reported as of December 31, 2019.

Download The state of North American retail wealth management, the full report on which this article is based (PDF–1MB).