Increasing emphasis on client satisfaction may be changing the way wealth managers get paid and how they are evaluated.

The traditional fee that advisors charge, based on the percentage of assets under management, may be giving way to new client-centric “reward and incentive structures,” according to PwC’s 2013 Global Private Banking and Wealth Management Survey, “Navigating to tomorrow: serving clients and creating value.”

“There’s going to be more emphasis on serving the client,” says Steven Crosby, head of the Americas unit of PwC’s global private banking and wealth management division and one of the authors’ of the report. “Historically the focus was on net new money but we’re seeing a shift to the client experience, the client’s goals and managing risk.”

The high priority firms are placing on “attracting and developing quality client relationship manager talent” is driving firms to “reconsider” compensation models, according to the report, which was a released Wednesday.

“Setting the tone from the top and aligning rewards and incentives with ethical behavior is integral to rebuilding reputational equity and reclaiming ‘trusted advisor’ status,” the report stated.

Revenue growth will replace both net new money growth and gross return in assets under management as the leading performance metric in the next two years, according to the report.

Profitability by relationship managers and managing the cost of servicing are also expected to become substantially more important. In addition, firms are now focusing on “enhancing long-term incentives tied to goals,” the study stated.

Firms are beginning to measure wealth managers’ performance by such metrics as customer satisfaction, Crosby says. “Firms want to be able to have a dashboard or scorecard to keep track of how relationship executives are doing."

Revenue growth doesn’t necessarily have to come from a rise in in asset value, Crosby says.

“If an advisor is a better steward of the customer experience, he will not ignore the client’s spouse or children or philanthropic foundation, which could [all] be areas of future growth,” he says.

A shift in compensation and evaluation is starting to evolve, one of the wealth management industry’s most respected observers agreed.

While the change is primarily “aspirational” in its early stages, Mark Tibergien, managing director and chief executive officer of Pershing Advisor Solutions, says that the industry is beginning to see a “combination” of fees tied to investment management with the total value of advice given to a client.

“The challenge will be to align fees with value and pricing with compensation,” Tibergien says.

Compliance, according to the PwC study, was the top risk concern of wealth managers, followed by client and suitability risk.

“Understanding exactly what the right products are for advisors will be a major issue,” Crosby says. “There will be regulatory changes involving due diligence, documentation and archiving, but firms are already taking steps down that path, and have the process in place because they already have to comply with the IRS’ Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts Report.”

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