Financial planning support set to rise for US broker/dealers: report

Financial services brokers in the US are set to benefit from an increased “breadth and depth” of relevant resources according to new research from Cerulli Associates.

The US-based global research and consulting said that as advisors assume more comprehensive planning responsibilities, the support form providers will increase accordingly.

“Adoption of comprehensive financial planning is on the rise in response to client demand, shifting regulation, and competition from digital, low-cost providers,” says Marina Shtyrkov, a research analyst at Cerulli. “Cerulli data shows that more than 60% of advisors agree that client demand for financial planning is increasing and that their financial planning process differentiates their practice from other advisors.”

“Avid adopters of comprehensive planning will need support from home offices and other partners to scale these offerings as they grow their practices.

‘Competitive edge’

“Firms must be prepared to fund substantive resources in order to provide the necessary ongoing support, lending a competitive edge to those that have the scale to invest in building and maintaining this support.”

Shtyrkov points that scale creates an opportunity for many brokers/dealers and large registered investment advisors (RIAs) to support financial planning specialists and offer internal planning resources. But, given their smaller size, however, many RIAs lack centralized planning support and, instead, partner with third-party firms for additional resources.

“A strong financial planning support system will become an increasingly important value driver for advisors as the pace of comprehensive planning adoption picks up momentum,” she added.


Financial planning is a time-consuming and labor-intensive process, but it provides “a sizeable opportunity”, the Cerulli report concluded.

“As planning adoption grows, firms with an adequate range of resources to support the needs of adopters will be most likely to recruit and retain advisors who value comprehensive planning,” said Kenton Shirk, a director at Cerulli.

“Cerulli believes that a strong financial planning support system will become an increasingly important competitive advantage for B/D home offices.”

These findings and more are from the second quarter 2018 issue of The Cerulli Edge – US Advisor Edition, which discusses the evolving fees for financial planning and other services in response to providers’ profit pressures and clients’ concerns about the value received.

Gary Robinson
Head of Video and Ezines at Open Door Media Publishing. Deputy Editor, International Investment. An experienced journalist and filmmaker with more than 20 years' financial services experience, both as journalist and originally as a fully qualified IFA, Gary works across both International Investment and InvestmentEurope titles. Previous video production credits include projects on BBC, C4 and SKY.

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