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September 15, 2023
Representatives of The American College of Financial Services were present at the WealthManagement.com Industry Awards (the Wealthies), held in the Ziegfeld Ballroom in New York City on the evening of Thursday, September 7.
The College was nominated for multiple awards, including their survey analyzing how Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) firms and their independent advisors think about growth, prioritization to scale, and specialized knowledge. In this survey, The College found that over 75% of RIAs valued education beyond the CFP®. To find out more about what type of education they’re seeking, read the results of the survey here! A study conducted by the Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics in Financial Services that gathered insights from nearly 2,000 consumers about their beliefs and behaviors regarding the financial services industry, was also nominated. And for the second straight year, WealthManagement.com named The College as the recipient of their Wealthie award for industry research, recognizing The College’s survey on RIA growth and specialized knowledge as the top submission in this category.
The College’s president, George Nichols III, CAP®, described this as an “opportunity to amplify our value, expertise, and initiatives focused on shaping the future of financial services.” Nichols’ message embodies the goal of The College’s RIA Resource Center and the survey piece looking at RIA growth and the value of specialized knowledge. This study seeks to grant independent advisors the specialized knowledge they need to grow and scale their business in order to compete with larger firms.
About the RIA Resource Center
The RIA Resource Center’s main function is to help emerging RIAs grow their practice. This is accomplished through three different parts that make up the entirety of the RIA Research Center: the profitability plan, the research survey, and the RIA Stories webinar and video series. RIAs can utilize these resources to gain insights on practice building, service specialization, and potential growth areas from the latest research and field leaders.
The profitability plan is a guideline that allows RIAs to maximize their profit and growth. From providing insights on market trends to assisting in the identification of specialty programs, the RIA profitability plan serves as an opportunity for RIA firms to focus on developing an integrated planning approach through specialized, applied knowledge.
The goal of the research survey is to provide RIAs with information on specialized education and explain the benefits of this type of education using the testimonies of other growing RIAs as examples to validate these points. For this survey, The College surveyed nearly 400 independent advisors who weighed in on their path to growth. Their responses provided critical insights into the state of the industry, the pressures they face from changing client demands, and the solutions they’ve identified to increase earnings and grow their teams.
The RIA stories webinar and video series allows visitors to the RIA Resource Center to view how The College and its designations benefit members of the financial industry, providing them with specialized knowledge that allows them to better serve the needs of clients and deliver the type of financial advice that best suits their specific needs. Through these video testimonials, The College hopes to assist more RIAs in discovering how the right education can offer a path to real differentiation and sustained success.
The common theme across all of these areas is assisting RIAs in growing their practice, scaling that growth, and competing with larger firms. Specialization in an emerging RIA firm can allow for a diverse, expert team of financial advisors that can serve a wide array of clients and provide them with the financial advice that best suits their unique financial situations.
How the Survey Assists RIAs
In the survey, The College asked nearly 400 independent advisors a variety of questions pertaining to growth and their opinions on specialized knowledge as an emerging RIA. When analyzing the results of this survey, The College found that growth was a top priority for many RIAs as they sought to obtain a larger market share through recruitment and business planning. They also valued professional designation programs as effective methods of improving their skills as financial planners and felt these programs were critical to the development of those skills and the skills of their team members.
Ultimately, the survey concluded that RIAs believe that “specialization will help them become more efficient, more client-centric, and more profitable.” The College and the RIA Resource Center aim to provide RIAs seeking to grow with solutions that will allow them to take advantage of these opportunities and grow into industry leaders with the goal of benefiting more Americans and changing more lives.