Edward Jones and Commonwealth Financial Network were ranked top firms by advisors in J.D. Power and Associates 2012 U.S. Financial Advisor Satisfaction Study.

Jones was rated the best firm for employee advisors, while Commonwealth was ranked No. 1 by independent advisors. For independent advisors, the runners-up were Cambridge Investment Research and Raymond James Financial Services, while Raymond James & Associates and UBS Financial Services came in second and third, respectively, among employees.


The leading factor for advisors was positive brand image, according to the study.  “As investor confidence grows and perceptions of wealth management firms improves, so do advisor perceptions of their firm, particularly among independent advisors,” the study reported.

“The more we looked into it, the more we found how important brand image was,” Craig Martin, director of investment services at J.D. Power, said in an interview. “The customer’s perception of the firm has a direct effect on the advisor’s success. There’s definitely a balance in terms of satisfaction  between the qualities of the firm and how much money advisors can make.”


But financial services firms should be on notice: Almost a third of respondents (31%) are indifferent toward their firm or broker-dealer, the survey found, making them at risk for changing firms. That lack of satisfaction was higher among employee advisors (36%); a lower 23% of independent advisors were indifferent.

The study found nine key drivers of independent advisor satisfaction, in order of importance: firm performance; people; contact; job duties; compensation; technology; products and offerings to clients; and services and support offered to financial advisors.

Among employee advisors, critical drivers of satisfaction (in order of importance) were firm performance; compensation; contact; people; job duties; work environment; products and offerings to clients; technology; and services and support offered to financial advisors. 

Firms included in the survey must pay J.D. Power, a business unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies, a licensing fee if they want to use survey results for marketing purposes, Martin said.

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