OAKS, Pa., Dec. 19, 2018 – As financial advisors look to 2019, an overwhelming majority expect a downturn in the market over the next two years and want to prioritize attracting and retaining high-net-worth (HNW) clients, according to a recent survey conducted by Independent Advisor Solutions by SEI (NASDAQ: SEIC). The survey gathered responses from 466 financial advisors, who indicated that economic factors, such as the market downturn and geopolitical uncertainty, are top concerns in the coming year. Advisors also aim to improve their businesses by enhancing the client experience and growing their advisory teams.

“This year’s survey reveals that goals and resolutions align with the continued evolution toward greater demand for personalized advice and service.”

“This year’s survey reveals that goals and resolutions align with the continued evolution toward greater demand for personalized advice and service,” said John Anderson, Managing Director and Head of Practice Management Solutions at Independent Advisor Solutions by SEI. “Through a personalized financial plan, clients are more likely to understand how market events impact short-term and long-term goals. With the outlook revealed today, advisors need to be laser-focused on providing the optimal client experience and preparing their businesses to best serve their clients during volatility in the near term, as well as into the future.”

Market Worries

In considering financial advisors’ outlook for the coming year, the majority (77 percent) expect a market downturn over the next two years, with 33 percent predicting it will come in 2019 and 44 percent predicting it will occur in 2020. Only 13 percent of advisors believe the markets are clear of a downturn in the near future. When asked what economic factor worries them and their clients the most as they head into 2019, 38 percent of advisors said a “big market correction,” followed by “geopolitical uncertainty” (25 percent) and the “trade war” (14 percent). Only 13 percent of advisors ranked “rising interest rates” as a top worry, implying political pressures and sentiment in the United States are triggering concerns.

Goal-setting and Resolution Revelation

With economic concerns top of mind, 25 percent of financial advisors ranked attracting and retaining more HNW clients as their number-one goal in 2019. Meanwhile, 23 percent of financial advisors said their top goal is to increase client referrals, and 22 percent said technology workflow implementation to increase efficiencies in their practice was first on the list. When asked what large investment they would make to improve their businesses in 2019, 28 percent of financial advisors said they want to enhance the client experience, 25 percent said growing their advisory team, and increasing the marketing budget and acquiring another firm came in at 18 percent and 17 percent, respectively.

Top five goals in 2019:

  1. Attract and attain more HNW clients
  2. Increase client referrals
  3. Implement technology workflows to increase efficiencies in my practice
  4. Conduct more outward-facing marketing activities
  5. Grow by acquiring other advisor firm(s)

From a competitive standpoint, most advisors (43 percent) resolved to increase client educational events and resources for clients in the New Year. When asked to take a longer view, 36 percent of advisors resolved to take advantage of more millennial investors looking for advice over the next one to two years.

Top five New Year’s resolutions for 2019:

  1. Increase client educational events and resources for my clients
  2. Take advantage of more millennial investors looking for advice
  3. Increase digital marketing channels
  4. Build a center of influence
  5. Grow by acquiring other advisory firms

Tomorrow’s Trends

According to the survey, financial advisors (34 percent) identify the increasing shift away from a product-based business model to an advice-based one as the trend that will impact and change the financial advisory industry the most in the next five to 10 years. Coming in second place, increased regulation and compliance oversight was cited by 26 percent of respondents as a trend to watch.

In a separate research report conducted by SEI and the Financial Planning Association®, 63 percent of HNW investor respondents said they find high value or very high value in an advisor who personalizes advice¹. Given financial advisors’ top goal is to attract and retain more HNW clients, the advice-based trend is consistent with what HNW clients are looking for in advisory services.

¹ Source: CEB 2018 Client Experience Survey; n=253.


SEI conducted the financial advisor survey online from Nov. 28, 2018 to Dec. 12, 2018. The survey generated responses from 407 independent financial advisors, representing clients and non-clients of SEI. SEI also received responses from more than 59 financial advisors, after conducting the survey at its National Strategic Advisor Conference in October and November 2018.

About The SEI Advisor Network

The SEI Advisor Network, now Independent Advisor Solutions by SEI, provides independent financial advisors with wealth management services through outsourced investment strategies, administration and technology 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 25 years, has 7,500 advisors who work with SEI, and $67.1 billion in advisors’ assets under management (as of Sept. 30, 2018). The SEI Advisor Network is a strategic business unit of SEI. 

About SEI

After 50 years in business, SEI (NASDAQ:SEIC) is a leading global provider of investment processing, investment management, and investment operations solutions that help corporations, financial institutions, financial advisors, and ultra-high-net-worth families create and manage wealth. As of Sept. 30, 2018, through its subsidiaries and partnerships in which the company has a significant interest, SEI manages, advises or administers $920 billion in hedge, private equity, mutual fund and pooled or separately managed assets, including $339 billion in assets under management and $576 billion in client assets under administration.