Investment Executive's annual Dealers' Report Card has seen its fair share of changes over the years, but advisors, on average, have been consistent in how they've rated their firms.
Case in point: the average IE rating in this Report Card has remained between 7.7 and 8.0 over the past 10 years. (The IE rating for each firm included in the Report Card is an average of all the ratings that dealer has received in the main table.)
Although ratings, by and large, have been consistent, the firms included in the Report Card have not. For example, Mississauga, Ont.-based PFSL Investments (Canada) Ltd. was removed from the Report Card in 2014 (the average IE ratings between 2008 and 2013 have been revised to reflect PFSL's exclusion). As well, Ottawa-based Independent Planning Group Inc. also was removed from the Report Card's main table in 2014 after Mississauga, Ont.-based Investment Planning Counsel Inc. (IPC) acquired that firm the previous year.
View this slideshow to see how advisors rated their dealer firms in comparison with the Report Card average since 2008.
How advisors rated their firms in the past decadeSlideshow
Assante Wealth Management
Assante’s IE rating has generally been strong over the past decade, increasing to a high of 8.6 in 2017 from 7.8 in 2008. The one exception to this trend was in 2010, when Assante’s rating fell to 7.1 as advisors expressed frustration with cutbacks, management changes and the firm’s decision to tie support services to proprietary products. Assante quickly turned things around, however, and in 2011, the firm’s ratings saw a significant improvement in 13 categories on the Report Card’s main table, giving its IE rating a boost.
Desjardins Financial Security
Desjardins Financial Security has seen fairly wide swings in its IE rating during the years, ranging from 7.4 to 8.1. The firm hit a high point in 2011 and 2012 with advisors praising the “technology tools and advisors desktop,” “firm’s marketing support for advisor’s practice,” and “firm’s stability.” Conversely, advisors were less than pleased with Desjardins Financial Security in 2015, largely because of cuts to their grid and a general sense of confusion about the firm’s financial planning support.
Global Maxfin Investments
Although Global Maxfin’s IE rating has been consistently below the Report Card average over the past decade, things appear to be looking up for the dealer. Global Maxfin’s Report Card début in 2010 was rocky following its purchase of Portfolio Investment Services. Specifically, advisors voiced concerns about their “firm’s total compensation,” tech tools and the slow pace of the merger, giving the firm an IE rating of 6.5. Over the next few years, Global Maxfin’s IE rating remained stuck between 6.2 and 6.8 as it struggled to meet advisors’ expectations. However, 2014 was a turnaround year for Global Maxfin, with its IE rating hitting 7.1. The firm’s IE rating has continued to improve, with advisors praising its independent nature.
HollisWealth’s IE Rating has remained fairly close to the Report Card average over the past 10 years and within a half a point range — no small feat considering the many changes the firm’s advisors have experienced since 2008. For example, HollisWealth was previously known as DundeeWealth Inc. until Bank of Nova Scotia purchased the dealer in 2011 and renamed it in 2013. Although advisors have long raised concerns about the bank’s encroaching influence, things came to a head in 2015 when HollisWealth’s IE rating dropped to 7.5. HollisWealth advisors will be going through more changes soon as their dealer has been sold to Quebec City-based Industrial Alliance Insurance and Financial Services Inc.
Investment Planning Counsel
Investment Planning Counsel’s IE rating has remained steady over the past 10 years ranging from 7.7 to 8.0. Advisors have generally expressed satisfaction with the dealer’s support services and have consistently rated their firm highly in the categories that matter most to them, including “freedom to make objective product choices,” “firm’s stability” and “firm’s ethics.”
Investors Group has regularly posted strong results in the annual Dealers’ Report Card. In fact, from 2008 to 2017, Investors Group’s IE rating has cleared 8.2 or higher each and every year, beating the Report Card average in the process, as advisors consistently praised the firm in areas of significant importance to them, such as firm’s ethics and firm’s stability.
Advisors with Manulife Securities have tended to be a little mercurial in their ratings of the dealer over the past decade. Since 2008, Manulife Securities’ IE rating has ranged from 7.4 to 8.1, with advisors, at times, bemoaning the firm’s support services while others have rewarded management for its renewed focus and investment in the business.
Peak Financial Group
Peak Financial Group has received strong ratings from its advisor force during the past decade. In fact Peak’s IE rating has ranged between 8.0 and 8.6 over the years — surpassing the Report Card average each year in the process. Peak’s IE Rating reached a 10-year high in 2016, when advisors praised several improvements at the firm, including to their tech tools.
Over the past 10 years, Portfolio Strategies has consistently received an IE rating between 7.6 and 8.2, with 2010 being a particularly strong year for the firm. Notably, advisors praised Portfolio Strategies in categories such as “advisor’s relationship with the compliance department,” “firm’s strategic focus” and “ongoing training” significantly that year.
Sterling Mutuals first appeared on the Dealers’ Report Card in 2014, making it the most recent addition to the survey. Although Sterling Mutuals’ IE rating beat the Report Card average in its first two years, the firm saw a slight dip in its ratings in 2016 as a result of advisors’ frustrations with the integration of Armstrong & Quaile Associates Inc., a dealer Sterling Mutuals purchased in 2015. Sterling Mutuals' IE rating is once again above the Report Card average in 2017.
Worldsource Wealth Management
Worldsource Wealth Management has received middling reviews from advisors over the years. Specifically, Worldsource’s IE rating has hovered at or below the Report Card average since 2008. During that time, advisors have voiced concerns over management changes and the dealer’s “back office and administrative support,” but 2017 might just prove to be a turning point for the firm. This year, Worldsource’s IE rating hit 7.8 with advisors rating their firm higher in several categories, including the “firm’s reward and recognition program” and the “firm’s corporate culture.”
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