Stand Out in Wealth Management: The Power of Advanced Certifications

Posted by Allison Edmondson, Director of Communications

Jun 12, 2019 3:00:00 PM

Denver, CO — June 12, 2019Investments & Wealth Institute® (formerly IMCA) released research findings from their latest study, “2019 High-Net-Worth Investor Study.” The research explores how advisors can stand out in a crowded market, where high client satisfaction and loyalty is not enough to set them apart. The study also examines  how articulating the value of advanced, credentials  can provide meaningful differentiation among discerning HNW Investors.

The research, fielded by, gathered input from just over 1,000 high-net-worth investors across North America.  The research built upon the findings of previous studies conducted in 2017 and 2018. Of the current study’s respondents, 425 reside in Canada and 578 are based in the United States.  All respondents worked with a financial advisor and met specific household investable asset criteria (at least $500,000 in investable assets).

Of the Canadian respondents, 80% of clients are somewhat or very satisfied and 81% of clients are somewhat or extremely likely to continue to work with their advisor. The good news is that most advisors are providing a high level of satisfaction with their HNW clients. However, with such high satisfaction, how can advisors differentiate themselves? The study demonstrates that through attaining advanced designations, and showing the value of those certifications, there is a clear opportunity for advisors to hold themselves to a higher standard and stand out in a highly competitive marketplace.
Advisors provide a variety of services
At the highest level, high-net-worth clients turn to advisors to provide a range of services.  When asked to rank four services (investment management, financial planning, retirement solutions and wealth management) in order of importance, investment management tops the list. However, while investment management is most important, two-thirds of investors say that investment performance is just one of the things for which they pay their advisor. The top three things HNW investor say they pay their advisors for are: on-going guidance/advice to help reach their goals (86%), help in avoiding costly financial/investment mistakes (79%) and on-going monitoring of their goals (79%). 
High-net-worth clients believe in the importance of advanced voluntary standards for their advisors.
Advanced designations are the primary way advisors can demonstrate technical expertise. Seventy-three percent of high-net-worth clients say that designations and credentials are an important way to demonstrate technical expertise.  In part this is because clients define expertise as going above and beyond the basic requirements of licensing or registration. Nearly 70 percent of high-net-worth clients saying it is important that their advisor achieve advanced certifications or voluntary education and three quarters of high-net-worth clients say that voluntary designations and certifications would be important to decision making if they were choosing an advisor today.

“High-net-worth clients expect their advisors to have the advanced knowledge and capabilities to drive tangible outcomes,” said Sean Walters, CAE, chief executive officer, Investments & Wealth Institute. “This study illustrates that for high-net-worth clients, advanced capabilities mean access to strategies and expertise they could not get elsewhere. Voluntary, advanced designations provide those capabilities.”
“Client engagement is the key goal of every successful advisory relationships” said Julie Littlechild, founder of “However, advisors must first establish a foundation of expertise and ethics, the two most important things to clients beyond the over-arching attribute of trust. The study provides actionable steps advisors can take to communicate their value and measure their success.”

The Exceptional Advisor
Drawing on the findings of the study, Investments & Wealth Institute created an online program Exceptional Advisor® Communicate Your Value and Build Client Engagement.  Consisting of 5 modules, the program is designed to provide advisors a better understanding of what clients consider important, provide meaningful guidance, demonstrate advanced knowledge through credentials, and highlight a commitment to ethics. Consisting of webinars, videos, and readings, the program teaches advisors how to develop client communication and action plans. In addition, the Institute has developed an Exceptional Advisor® Toolkit, available to Institute members and CIMA®, CPWA®, and RMA® certificants. The toolkit provides an array of client and advisor resources.

Access the study here.


Recent Posts

No recent articles to show