For the third year in a row, hiring and developing talent is the top business challenge for elite advisory firms: The 2019 Elite Advisor Poll

April 10, 2019

Yet, most firms are not taking the initiatives needed to expand and diversify their talent pools

JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Leaders of some of the nation’s largest advisory firms acknowledge that hiring and developing talent will be the biggest driver of growth for their business in the next few years, but they face mounting challenges in identifying the right talent, expanding their talent pools and implementing initiatives that help drive diversity, according to a poll conducted at the 2019 Elite Advisor Summit held by BNY Mellon’s Pershing last month in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

“Talent shortage is by far one of the biggest threats to growth among advisory firms,” said Gabriel Garcia, managing director, Advisor Solutions at BNY Mellon’s Pershing. “It is critical that advisory firms start putting in place measures that will increase their appeal as a ‘best place to work,’ build their reputation in the marketplace and, perhaps most importantly, help them tap into new and diverse talent pools.”

The 2019 Elite Advisor Poll, which was conducted among the executives attending the two-day, invitation-only event, reveals that the majority (59 percent) of the leaders at the country’s most preeminent registered investment advisors (RIAs) and institutional firms are finding it challenging to find the right fit for their firms and 41 percent are not entirely satisfied with their firms’ efforts to hire women or ethnic minorities. For the majority (59 percent) of executives responding to the poll, the main challenge in hiring women and ethnic minorities is the lack of enough qualified talent from these pools.

Yet, when asked what their firms are doing to reach a more diverse talent pool, almost half (47 percent) of the executives responding to the poll indicate that they have not implemented some of the best practice initiatives and programs, such as recruiting at schools with a diverse student base, removing subconscious biases from job descriptions, diversity training, etc.

Additional highlights from the 2019 Elite Advisor Poll include:

  • Recruiting: Only five percent of advisory firm executives say they have no challenges with recruiting. Aside from the challenges in finding the right fit, executives (20 percent) say there is a lack of talent in the marketplace and that attracting talent to their firm is a challenge (17 percent).
  • Retention: Providing opportunities for career growth is deemed to be the most effective way to retain employees, according to 55 percent of respondents. Only 16 percent say competitive salary is an effective tool for retaining employees.
  • Diversity: Slightly over a quarter (28 percent) of respondents say their firms are expanding recruiting efforts to include schools with a diverse student base. Meanwhile, only nine percent say they offer diversity training and only 14 percent say they are reviewing job descriptions to remove any subconscious biases from the hiring process. Further, a mere two percent of executives say their firms are measuring progress on diversity.

About the Elite Advisor Poll

The Elite Advisor Poll was conducted live via mobile phones during the 2019 Elite Advisor Summit, which took place March 11-13 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The poll gauged attendees’—which comprised the executives of some of the nation’s largest advisory firms—views and concerns around talent and technology. An average of 42 executives responded to the talent-related questions.

About the Elite Advisor Summit

The Elite Advisor Summit, hosted by BNY Mellon’s Pershing, is a two-day, invitation-only event with some of the country’s most preeminent executives of RIAs and institutional firms. The event is designed to help advisory firms compete in today’s fast-changing environment and facilitate meaningful conversations, ideation and networking. The inaugural Elite Advisor Summit was held Feb. 28–March 2, 2017, in Aventura, Florida. This year’s Summit, which took place March 11-13 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, hosted 86 executives from the nation’s largest RIA firms, representing an average AUM of $9 billion and a median AUM of $1.8 billion.

About BNY Mellon's Pershing

BNY Mellon’s Pershing is a leading provider of clearing and custody services. We are uniquely positioned to help complex financial services firms transform their businesses, drive growth, maximize efficiency, and manage risk and regulation.

Wealth management and institutional firms outsource to us for trading and settlement services, investment solutions, bank and brokerage custody, middle and back office support, data insights, and business consulting.

Pershing brings together high-touch service, an open digital platform and the BNY Mellon enterprise to deliver a differentiated experience for every client.

Pershing LLC (member FINRA, NYSE, SIPC) is a BNY Mellon company. With offices around the world, Pershing has over $2 trillion in assets and millions of investor accounts. Pershing affiliates include Albridge Solutions, Inc. and Lockwood Advisors, Inc., an investment adviser registered in the United States under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. Additional information is available on, or follow us on LinkedIn or 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 June 30, 2021, BNY Mellon had $45.0 trillion in assets under custody and/or administration, and $2.3 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 Follow us on Twitter @BNYMellon or visit our newsroom at for the latest company news.