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The Jitters Are Spreading

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The jitters are spreading. advisors are reporting that their clients, spooked by recent events in Greece, Puerto Rico and China, are hesitating to put more money into stocks, favoring cash instead.

But clients aren’t the only ones who are anxious about potential fallout from future events. On a very different front, advisors are fretting over a cloud that may be forming around their silver lining.

Our exclusive report by Senior Editor Charles Paikert on the new FA Insight Study of Advisory Firms: People and Pay notes that rising productivity, greater operational efficiencies driven by technology and, of course, the long-running bull market have combined to produce a period of unprecedented prosperity for advisors.

But the good times may be living on borrowed time. A growing paradox threatens to throw a big wet blanket over the party.

The typical advisor is aging and nearing retirement, notes Dan Inveen, an FA Insight principal and its director of research. With experienced labor in short supply, he asks, “How much longer can firm productivity increase without commensurate increases in compensation?”

As detailed in Paikert’s story, while compensation is rising modestly overall, revenue per professional is rising even faster. And while this has led to greater firm profitability, rank-and-file advisors have yet to see their share of the growing productivity pie.

That makes some firm owners nervous. The short supply of labor outstripped by demand is “one of the biggest clouds on the horizon,” agrees Jessica Maldonado, vice president for Searcy Financial Services in Overland Park, Kan. But within our redesigned magazine, including a new Benchmark section that showcases our indexes tracking the confidence of retirement advisors as well as global allocation trends, there’s plenty to help you and your clients keep the clouds away.

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