SEI Quick Poll: Advisors Set to Grow Business, Increase Client Contact and Improve Technology in 2010

Market Upswing Has Investors Back in Game, Now More Risk-Conscious

Jan 14, 2010, 13:00 ET from SEI

OAKS, Pa., Jan. 14 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- A majority of advisors and investors are optimistic for 2010 and more than half have reentered the markets, according to an SEI (Nasdaq: SEIC) Quick Poll released today. Risk and its avoidance is now the predominant theme as investors intend to use tried-and-true investment approaches, such as diversification and dollar-cost averaging to meet financial goals. Furthermore, in response to increased regulation and business risk, a majority of advisors plan to make changes to their processes and procedures for 2010. The poll, conducted by the SEI Advisor Network, surveyed 442 advisors during December 2009 and January 2010.

"This poll shows the true impact of the financial crisis that started in 2008 – advisors are looking for new ways to make their business more secure and more successful," said Stephen Onofrio, Head of Sales and Service, SEI Advisor Network. "Advisors that identify and implement best-practices in processes, procedures and technology will win the race for investor confidence and grow assets."

A Look Back at 2009

As a result of heightened business risk, a majority of advisors revised their operations and client relationship strategies during 2009. More than half (59 percent) of advisors said the most challenging part to 2009 was the 'continued pay cut due to market depreciation.' Nearly one-third (29 percent) said scaling back expansion plans was the hardest part.

While advisors focus on business risk, risk mitigation is a key theme with investors. Nearly half of advisors (45 percent) said clients are 'not as risk tolerant as originally thought.' Nearly one-third (29 percent) said clients learned they 'can handle market volatility if they focus on long-term goals.' Most advisors (68 percent) said they communicated with clients more frequently in 2009.

"Being there for my clients took on a whole new meaning in 2009," said Michael Ferman, CPA, Head of Rubin Brown Advisors of St. Louis, Missouri. "Investors of all types became increasingly aware of market risk and I spent more time re-educating clients on the benefits of a properly diversified investment approach in order to attain their long-term goals. Regardless of what the market was doing, this helped me forge deeper client relationships and build their level of trust."

A Look Ahead at 2010

In addition to managing risk, top resolutions among advisors for 2010 include becoming more client-centric, growing their book of business, and improving technology, all direct results of the 2008 and 2009 market environment. Managing business risk now takes more time said 73 percent of advisors and 67 percent said regulatory compliance has become a key emphasis. For 2010, 67 percent of advisors plan to change processes and procedures, and 51 percent plan to improve technology. In an effort to deepen client relationships, 70 percent of advisors have adopted a holistic financial planning approach with clients.

Most advisors (85 percent) are 'cautiously optimistic' or 'optimistic' for 2010. More than half (63 percent) of advisors believe the market upswing has convinced clients to get back into the markets. Predictions for 2010 are positive as 70 percent of advisors expect a '0 to 10 percent gain' performance projection for a diversified '60 percent equity and 40 percent bond portfolio.'

Resolutions for 2010

The poll also included feedback from advisors on their New Year's resolutions about both their clients and businesses. The top eight resolutions for 2010 included:

  1. Grow business in AUM and clients
  2. Touch clients, centers of influence more regularly
  3. Use technology to improve business
  4. Stress less, get healthier
  5. Listen better, be more client-centric
  6. Repeat my performance of 2009
  7. Improve personal organizational skills
  8. Hire additional staff

"The market has become more fluid and transactional, with a more restrictive compliance environment, making the use of technology and systems a critical component to delivering and implementing the final product with a streamlined process," said Mitch Walk, President of Asset Management Partners of Longwood, Florida.

The SEI Advisor Network recently issued The Risk Dynamic, a whitepaper outlining a new set of emerging risks threatening advisor firms and strategies to mitigate each of the risks separately and in combination. The Risk Dynamic and a summary of the Quick Poll are available by visiting

About the SEI Advisor Network

The SEI Advisor Network provides financial advisors with turnkey wealth management services through outsourced investment strategies; administration and technology platforms; trust, banking, and institutional services; and practice management programs. It is through these services that SEI helps advisors save time, grow revenues, and differentiate themselves in the market. With a history of financial strength, stability, and transparency, the SEI Advisor Network has been serving the independent financial advisor market for more than 15 years. As of September 30, 2009, SEI works with more than 6,000 advisors and has over $33 billion in advisors' assets under management. The SEI Advisor Network is a strategic business unit of SEI. For more information, visit

About SEI

SEI (Nasdaq: SEIC) is a leading global provider of outsourced asset management, investment processing and investment operations solutions. The company's innovative solutions help corporations, financial institutions, financial advisors, and affluent families create and manage wealth. As of September 30, 2009, through its subsidiaries and partnerships in which the company has a significant interest, SEI administers $383 billion in mutual fund and pooled assets and manages $156 billion in assets. SEI serves clients, conducts or is registered to conduct business and/or operations, from numerous offices worldwide. For more information, visit