Advisor Authority Study

Eight Key Traits of Highly Successful Advisors

How a deeper understanding of the industry’s competitive advantages can redefine your path to success

Louisville, KY – September 14, 2017 – A Special Report based on the latest findings from the third annual Advisor Authority Study commissioned by Jefferson National, operating as Nationwide’s advisory solutions’ business, identifies eight traits of highly successful advisors.

Understanding these key traits is critical to helping Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs) and fee-based advisors define and refine their own path to success.

The study, conducted online by Harris Poll through a survey of roughly 1,600 RIAs, fee-based advisors and individual investors nationwide, defines “Successful Advisors” as those who earn more and manage more assets. They earn a personal annual income of over $500,000 from their advisory business, or individually manage a total AUM of $250 million or more.

Staying a step ahead

“The market is moving faster and the industry is becoming increasingly competitive. For more than a decade, we’ve been committed to serving RIAs and fee-based advisors and have seen first-hand that those who achieve the greatest success are always a step ahead,” says Laurence Greenberg, leader of Nationwide’s advisory solutions business. “Successful advisors are the leaders and innovators who look to the future, set the trends, manage more AUM and earn more than their peers. Our latest Special Report is designed to provide benchmarks and actionable insights from the most successful advisors, to help more RIAs and fee-based advisors drive growth, build a thriving practice, and establish a viable franchise for the future.”

This latest Advisor Authority Special Report compares successful advisors to all other advisors in the study. Because advisors define success differently, the report also drills down more deeply to highlight the unique differences between two segments of successful advisors—the Advisor with High AUM and the High Earning Advisor. As the report shows, not all successful advisors have the same priorities, but they all focus on one or more of these eight traits to achieve the optimal outcome for their clients and their practice.

Build an effective firm

To build and maintain an effective firm in an increasingly competitive industry, top traits of highly successful advisors include:

  • Think Like a CEO
    When it comes to managing their practice, successful advisors act like business owners and think like CEOs. Throughout the report, successful advisors show that every aspect of their practice—from technology and marketing, to building their client base and cultivating their in-house team—aligns with their vision for the future of their firm.
  • Be a Tech Innovator
    Successful advisors understand the power of technology to create an optimal client experience and a more efficient practice. This year’s findings show that those with High AUM are more “tech obsessed”—more likely to adopt new technology, and far more likely to consider new technology a number-one factor to enhance profitability. When compared to all other advisors, High AUM advisors are more likely to add interactive websites (57%), mobile technologies (57%), risk management tools (56%), tax optimization tools (44%) and artificial intelligence (38%).
  • Target New Clients
    Year-over-year, the pursuit of profitability is a top priority—and the push for new clients remains a top driver of profits for successful advisors. This year, High Earning advisors rate adding new clients as their number one solution (45%) to enhance profitability in the next 12 months, while adding new technology (33%) and targeting high net worth clients (31%) are a distant second and third. High AUM advisors, who are more “tech-obsessed,” say their number-one solution for enhancing profitability is adding new technology (43%), tied with targeting high net worth clients (43%), while adding new clients comes in at a close second (41%).
  •  Be a Marketing Innovator
    To target an emerging market of new clients, the most successful advisors are more likely to have strategies to attract the next generation of investor. This year, 78% of High AUM advisors and 70% of High Earning advisors have changed their marketing strategies to attract the next generation of investors, compared with only 59% of all other advisors. But while technology can optimize their marketing efforts and enhance the customer experience, successful advisors still say face-to-face is a number-one priority.

To learn more about these top characteristics—and all eight traits of highly successful advisors—financial professionals can download the Advisor Authority 2017 Special Report on “Paths to Success: Profiles of Successful Advisorshere.

Successful advisors are the leaders and innovators who look to the future, set the trends, manage more AUM and earn more than their peers

For more insights on top characteristic of successful advisors, financial professionals can also download the latest Advisor Authority infographic at:





About Advisor Authority:
The third annual Advisor Authority study explores the investing and advising issues confronting RIAs, fee-based advisors, broker/dealers and investors—and the innovative techniques needed for success in today’s complex market. It features a special focus on the most successful advisors and the most affluent investors. These latest findings are to be followed by an ongoing series of special reports that will be released through year-end.
The third annual Advisory Authority study was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of Jefferson National, operating as Nationwide’s advisory solutions business, from March 13 – April 7, 2017, among 779 employed financial advisors, ages 18+ and 817 investors, ages 18+ who are primary or shared financial decision makers with investable assets greater than $100K. Among the 779 financial advisors, there were 521 Registered Investment Advisors and 258 Broker/Dealers. Among the 817 investors, there were 208 Mass Affluent, 204 Emerging High Net Worth, 204 High Net Worth and 201 Ultra High Net Worth. And, among the investors, 524 have an advisor, while 293 do not. Investors are weighted where necessary by age, gender, race/ethnicity, region, education, income, marital status, household size, investable assets and propensity to be online in order to bring them in line with their actual proportions in the population.
Results of this new research are compared to results from a similar March 2016 study conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of Jefferson National among 683 employed Financial Advisors, including 440 Independent Registered Investment Advisors and 243 Broker/Dealers and among 733 Investors, there were 167 Mass Affluent, 184 Emerging High Net Worth, 199 High Net Worth and 183 Ultra High Net Worth. And, among the investors, 458 had an advisor, while 275 did not.
Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. Because the sample is based on those who were invited to participate in the Harris Poll online research panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. A complete survey method is available upon request.
About Harris Poll
Over the last five decades, Harris Polls have become media staples. With comprehensive experience and precise technique in public opinion polling, along with a proven track record of uncovering consumers’ motivations and behaviors, Harris Poll has gained strong brand recognition around the world. Contact us for more information.
About Jefferson National
Jefferson National, operating as Nationwide’s advisory solutions business, is a recognized innovator of a leading tax-advantaged investing solution for RIAs, fee-based advisors and the clients they serve. Trusted partner to a network of more than 4,500 advisors, Jefferson National provides greater efficiency, transparency and choice through an adaptable technology platform, award-winning distribution strategy and cost-effective servicing capabilities. Named the industry “Gold Standard” as of 2012 and winner of more than 50 industry awards, including the DMA 2010 Financial Services Company of the Year. The company serves advisors and clients nationwide, through its subsidiaries Jefferson National Life Insurance Company and Jefferson National Life Insurance Company of New York. To reach our advisor support desk, please call 1-866-WHY-FLAT (1-866-949-3528). To learn more, please visit
About Nationwide
Nationwide, a Fortune 100 company based in Columbus, Ohio, is one of the largest and strongest diversified insurance and financial services organizations in the U.S. and is rated A+ by both A.M. Best and Standard & Poor’s. The company provides a full range of insurance and financial services, including auto, commercial, homeowners, farm and life insurance; public and private sector retirement plans, annuities and mutual funds; banking and mortgages; excess & surplus, specialty and surety; pet, motorcycle and boat insurance. For more information, visit
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