Aite interviewed 201 financial advisers to find out the effect financial planning has on their books of business. The survey sample was made up of a mix of different types of advisers, including independent registered investment advisers, registered representatives at independent broker-dealers and employee broker-dealers.
Over the last decade, financial planning has moved from a service delivered by central teams of specialists to a financial adviser-directed activity, Aite found in its report, "The Practice of Financial Planning." Still, financial advisers spend just 13% of their time on financial planning. At 20%, active recruiting of new clients occupied more of their time, according to the data.
"It is important that firms encourage their advisers to proactively engage with their clients in financial planning and to have the difficult conversation around what goals to abandon and how much spending to cut," said Alois Pirker, senior analyst and author of the Aite report. "Firms and advisers that can re-establish a trust relationship with their clients will not only be able to retain their current clients, but also win market share."
Ten percent think financial planning is not an effective way to woo new clients. The 43% of financial advisers that considered financial planning an "extremely effective" or "very effective" client acquisition tool said they are considering going independent. Overall, the independent channel, registered investment advisers and brokers, have the highest share of financial planning clients among their client base, according to Aite. While more than one-third of independents provided financial planning services to more than 75% of their clients, only 15% of employee brokers have reached this level of coverage.
Retirement savings planning and retirement income planning are by far the most important financial planning disciplines for financial advisers, Pirker found. Seventy-four percent of advisers rank retirement savings planning among the top three planning disciplines, and 68% have ranked retirement income planning similarly high. Cash flow, college, and insurance planning were voted into the top three by more than a quarter of financial advisers.
Pirker said in order for financial planning to be an effective client acquisition tool, advisers have to increase their share of clients for which they provide the service. Having an efficient program in place is also paramount, he added.
"Unless advisers have a streamlined way to produce financial plans, increasing financial planning activities will also result in a time-suck for these advisers," Pirker said. "The right choice of technology and an increased focus on technology integration can increase productivity by 50%."