Fidelity Investments, one of the largest asset managers in the world, with about $4.2 trillion in assets under management, has been nominated for the RIA Intel Asset Manager of the Year award. Lillian Peros, head of eastern region relationship management at Fidelity Institutional, which serves more than 13,500 wealth management firms and other institutions, spoke to RIA Intel about the company’s relationship with wealth managers and the most common challenges that she hears from RIAs. The interview has been edited for clarity and length.
As the industry has developed and moved from broker dealers to RIAs, how has your relationship changed with RIAs and wealth managers?
Firms are racing to stay ahead of these large shifts. Rapid tech development, new product solutions, increased regulations, and shifting business models have RIAs working hard to acquire and retain their clients. They’re expanding their services and offerings and moving beyond just managing the money, and we, with our broad platform and abilities, are working to support them in these areas.
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What opportunities do you see within wealth management and with RIAs?
We’re really bullish on wealth management overall. We continue to see a lot of significant year-over-year growth in terms of the number of advisors increasing their assets under management. And there’s a lot of opportunity in the space that our advisors can capitalize on. The first such area is personalization. Consumers want things quickly, and they want to consume products and services in a way that’s unique to them. In the RIA space, a lot of this is driven by the availability of data that allows folks to help clients achieve their objectives and goals. So we see a lot of opportunity for our advisors to personalize their offerings for their individual clients and to help them identify their own values and goals and incorporate them into their portfolios.
What are some of the common challenges that you hear from RIAs?
The number-one thing we hear from advisors is that they could use some help with efficiency. Help me leverage my technology better, help me integrate better, help me streamline my operations or digital efforts, so I can be more efficient.
The second challenge we come across is growth. Advisor retention of assets is pretty strong on average, but the investor base is older, and these people are drawing down on their assets in retirement. This means that RIAs continuously need to grow to replenish the natural attrition, which they do by capturing new assets from new clients or getting new assets from existing clients, although some firms are also looking to grow inorganically through M&A.
And finally, folks are always challenged by the need to build and maintain a sustainable business. It’s a rapidly evolving world, and businesses need constant management and nurturing and really require the owners to work ‘on the business’ rather than just ‘in the business.’ Talent, for example, is a really big concern for many of our firms — they’re struggling to find folks in a tight labor market and also figuring out how to retain people.
The inaugural RIA Intel Awards is a celebration of financial advisors, wealth management firms, and industry leaders. Results will be revealed at a gala dinner and ceremony at the Metropolitan Club of New York, September 14, 2022.
Click here to sponsor or register for the event.
Holly Deaton (@HollyLDeaton) is a staff writer at RIA Intel and based in New York City