Employee Advisors Outnumber Owners, But Compensation Remains Unchanged at Advisory Firms, According to Study From InvestmentNews and BNY Mellon’s Pershing

December 14, 2015

Study identifies profitability, productivity, and compensation trends of most successful advisory firms

JERSEY CITY, N.J. - Today’s independent advisory firms are no longer solely driven by the talent of their founders and investment teams. Instead, they are growing enterprises focused on the talents of employees across multiple roles and disciplines, according to the 2015 InvestmentNews Compensation & Staffing Study, sponsored by Pershing. The study found that firms achieving the highest levels of performance are putting the attraction of top talent, motivation of employees and implementation of well-thought out plans near the top of their list of priorities.

According to the report, industry growth is changing the nature of firms. Advisor ownership used to define independence; however, today employee advisors now outnumber owner-advisors. This change amplifies the importance of developing career tracks, a workplace culture, nurturing talent and determining competitive positioning. As much as growth has created opportunity and brought a wave of hires, it does not seem to have affected compensation for most positions in the last two years. Salaries for employee advisors and other key positions remain virtually unchanged. The cumulative effect of growth has doubled the size of the typical firm in the industry over the last five years. The year 2014 brought 13.5% growth in revenues.

“Recruiting top talent and delivering exceptional services to your client is critical to success in today’s advisory landscape,” says Ben Harrison, managing director and head of business development and relationship management at Pershing Advisor Solutions. “Whether your firm is a super ensemble or a small RIA, implementing a business management strategy is fundamental. We are personally invested in helping our clients succeed and have uncovered key insights in this study to help them better engage investors, attract top talent and run their business more effectively.”

The report identified the following trends as drivers of the business management strategies of the most successful firms:

  • Growth and Prosperity: Firms of different sizes significantly differ in their approach to finding new clients. The largest firms turn to branding and marketing, while smaller firms rely on referrals and networking.
  • Employee Advisors Outnumber Owners: Owners are no longer the only advisors that manage client relationships. Super ensembles have been building their employee teams for many years, and smaller ensembles and enterprise ensembles are now also following suit.
  • Size Becoming a Decisive Advantage: Super ensembles and large firms hold the advantage in their ability to attract top talent and the largest client relationships. Because of their size, they have a more prominent presence in the marketplace and are typically located in the largest markets where there is also a proliferation of wealthy potential clients.
  • Salaries Remain Unchanged: While there has been a new wave of advisory hires, it has not translated into salary growth. Instead, the growth in compensation has been in the form of incentives rather than salaries.
  • Building a Growth Engine: Many advisors are focusing on the clients who will offer the most value and pay for the firm’s service offering.

To obtain a copy of the 2015 InvestmentNews Advisor Compensation & Staffing Study, please visit https://www.pershing.com/programs/advisory/compensation-and-staffing.

About BNY Mellon's Pershing

BNY Mellon’s Pershing and its affiliates provide advisors, broker-dealers, family offices, hedge fund and ’40 Act fund managers, registered investment advisor firms and wealth managers with a broad suite of global financial business solutions. Many of the world’s most sophisticated and successful financial services firms rely on Pershing for clearing and custody, investment and retirement solutions, technology, enterprise data management, trading services, prime brokerage, managed account technology and operations and business consulting. Pershing helps clients improve profitability and drive growth, create capacity and efficiency, attract and retain talent, and manage risk and regulation. With a network of offices worldwide, Pershing provides business-to-business solutions to clients representing more than seven million investor accounts globally. Pershing LLC (member FINRA, NYSE, SIPC) is a BNY Mellon company. Professionally advised managed accounts are offered through its affiliate, Lockwood Advisors, Inc., which is an investment adviser registered in the United States under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. Additional information is available on pershing.com, or follow us on Twitter @Pershing.

About BNY Mellon

BNY Mellon is a global investments company dedicated to helping its clients manage and service their financial assets throughout the investment lifecycle. Whether providing financial services for institutions, corporations or individual investors, BNY Mellon delivers informed investment and wealth management and investment services in 35 countries. As of Dec. 31, 2020, BNY Mellon had $41.1 trillion in assets under custody and/or administration, and $2.2 trillion in assets under management. BNY Mellon can act as a single point of contact for clients looking to create, trade, hold, manage, service, distribute or restructure investments. BNY Mellon is the corporate brand of The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation (NYSE: BK).Additional information is available on www.bnymellon.com. Follow us on Twitter @BNYMellon or visit our newsroom at www.bnymellon.com/newsroom for the latest company news.