Everyone in the financial advisory industrytalks about practice management in grand, overarching statements, so this month, we at On Wall Street, decided to dig a little deeper.
We took a look at the approach taken by one firm in particular — RBC Wealth Management-USA — in light of the fact that it was No. 1 on the J.D. Power Full Service Firm Customer Satisfaction survey. In our cover story, "RBC's Advisor Factor," we interviewed a few of the firm's advisors who took part in three internal and voluntary practice management programs designed to not only improve production numbers, but also to help provide the advisors' clients with better service.
For instance, one advisor who was struggling discovered how to better manage her time through the firm's FA Forward program and, as a result, saw her numbers soar. It was a testament to a firm that has decided to invest in its advisor talent. "Rather than turn our backs on [those lower-end producers] we developed a program that gets back to basics," says Mary Zimmer, head of RBC Wealth Management Services and International Wealth-U.S.
"The advisor-client relationship is what we want to be better at than any other firm," says John Taft, the chief executive officer of RBC Wealth Management-U.S. He insists that even though his firm came out on top in this survey for 2011, he will not rest on his laurels. "Last year, we found that one of the areas we ranked lower in was our client-facing website," Taft says. "So we made improvements in that website this year, and that's step one in a multi-year process to completely overhaul our website. I'm waiting for an analysis for this year's results in order to make some decisions on what we work on."
This month, On Wall Street also focuses on what recruiters are forecasting about the competition among firms for talent. The headline for our Wealth Industry story "Expect a New Wave of Advisor Movement," speaks for itself. Senior editor Lorie Konish talks to experts who say that wirehouses may see some of their talent walk and transfer their allegiance and client assets to rival firms. Wirehouses will need to distinguish their brands if they want to hold on to their top producers, says one recruiter.
Konish also writes about the embattled Morgan Keegan in By the Rules. In "Morgan Keegan's Woes May Not Be Over," Konish explores what that firm's recent regulatory settlement means for its future and who may pick up its dance card now that its parent company, Regions Financial, has put it on the block.
Also in this issue, our resident expert on foreign economies, Milton Ezrati, delves into the Greek debt crisis. "Global credit markets have understandably begun to behave as if Greece will default," Ezrati writes. He explains the four basic options that the European Union has to resolve this crisis. No matter what the scenario, Ezrati believes Germany and the other wealthy nations of the EU will have to step up to the plate.
There is much more in this issue that tells you how to improve your practice, how to avoid regulatory trouble and what wealthy investors are seeking now. All you have to do is take some time out and read through this month's magazine. As always, feel free to contact me with your opinions and observations.