Despite the different distribution channels and business models of the firms included in Investment Executive's (IE) 2017 Report Card series, there are many similarities to be found among the highest-rated companies, whether it's a bank-owned brokerage or a managing general agency (MGA).
In fact, financial advisors at firms with the 10 highest "IE rating" and "overall rating by advisors" in the Report Card series often praise their respective companies for the same thing, whether it's a positive work environment, the ability to make independent product choices for clients, or the backing of a strong brand.
(A firm's IE rating is the overall average of all the ratings a firm received for the categories included in a Report Card's main ratings table. This excludes the overall rating by advisors, which is how advisors rated their firm as a whole.)
View this slideshow to see which firms ranked in the top 10, why they have earned such high praise from their advisors, and how these firms have performed over the past decade.
The top 10 rated firms in this year’s Report Card seriesSlideshow
10. Peak Financial Group
This year marks the first time that Peak Financial Group has cracked the Report Card series’ top 10. Peak advisors were quick to point out the full-service dealer’s independent business model, their ability to choose products for clients, the communication between advisors and management and the firm’s ethical culture when asked to name the most positive aspects of working at the firm.
“Peak offers independence,” says a Peak advisor in Ontario. “The [firm] allows us 100% freedom in terms of products.”
9. PPI Advisory
Insurance advisors with PPI Advisory are full of praise for their MGA, ranging from the support staff’s technical expertise, to the product shelf, to the firm’s ability to serve the high net-worth market effectively. As such, PPI Advisory has had among the top 10 IE ratings and overall ratings by advisors every year since 2008.
“The [firm has] excellent people [in its] staff,” says an advisor in Ontario with PPI Advisory. “[The firm has] great underwriting, great advanced planning individuals and access to good products.”
8. Royal Bank of Canada
Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) advisors are very proud of their bank’s brand and strong reputation. In fact, those two factors are some of the most often cited positive aspects of the firm — a likely reason why the name RBC can so frequently be found on the Report Card’s top 10 ratings list.
“RBC has always had a big focus on promoting the brand,” says an RBC advisor in Ontario. “We are one of the strongest brands. The [bank does] great work [promoting us] in the community, but also via advertising.”
7. Odlum Brown
Odlum Brown has received strong ratings from its advisor force over the years. Since 2012, Odlum Brown has been a mainstay of the Report Card’s top 10 as advisors have praised the firm’s reputation and the freedom they have to make objective product choices for their clients. Most of all, Odlum Brown advisors are simply happy to work with people they like and respect.
“Everybody has their door open here,” says an Odlum Brown advisor in B.C. “It’s a good, supportive, fun atmosphere.”
6. Leede Jones Gable
Leede Jones Gable advisors have had many positive things to say about their firm over the past few years, a fact that’s reflected in the brokerage’s strong ratings over the past decade. In fact, with few exceptions, Leede Jones Gable has consistently had among the top 10 IE ratings and overall ratings by advisors as they praised the firm’s strong, independent corporate culture and mutual respect among advisors and management
“[There’s a] very strong collegiality among all the advisors,” says a Leede Jones Gable advisor in B.C. “It's a very positive and professional environment.”
5. PPI Solutions
PPI Solutions has had among the top 10 IE ratings and overall rating by advisors since it made its début in the Insurance Advisors’ Report Card in 2011. Since then, PPI Solutions’ advisors have praised the MGA for the bevy of products it makes available, its technology platform, back-office staff and the overall work environment.
“As far as MGAs go, PPI Solutions is the best one out there,” says a PPI Solutions advisor in Alberta.
4. RBC Dominion Securities
Like their colleagues in the banking channel, advisors are very proud to carry the RBC Dominion Securities Inc. (DS) name on their business cards, a fact made clear by the firm’s recurring top 10 ratings in the Report Card series since 2013. DS advisors have praised their firm in several areas since then, such as support for wealth management. The most common refrain among DS advisors, though, is the strong reputation and brand recognition of both DS and RBC, its parent company.
“The credibility and the reputation of the mother ship,” says a DS advisor in Atlantic Canada about the most positive aspects of working at the brokerage. “The respect that the brand carries on the Street.”
Ten years ago, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) had one of the lowest IEratings and overall ratings by advisors in the Report Card series as advisors complained about the bank’s poor public image during the financial crisis relating to its involvement with the U.S. subprime mortgage scandal.
Since then, CIBC has worked hard to win back the approval of its advisors. In fact, CIBC now enjoys among the highest ratings in the Report Card series as advisors praise the firm in areas that were once a source of frustration, such as the bank’s product selection and overall direction.
“I love the organization, the people and the direction we're taking,” says a CIBC advisor in Ontario. “We do everything in the best interest of the client.”
2. Edward Jones
During the past decade, Edward Jones entered the Report Card series’ top 10 list in 2014 as its advisors praised the independent brokerage’s commitment to an entrepreneurial business model, a sentiment that has kept the brokerage high in the ratings in recent years. Some of the most positive aspects of working at Edward Jones, advisors said, include the flexible work hours and the freedom to make objective product choices for clients.
“It's as close to being self-employed as it can be,” says an Edward Jones advisor in Ontario. “I like that I can tailor my office the way I like it.”
1. IDC Worldsource Insurance Network
IDC Worldsource Insurance Network’s (IDC WIN) IE rating and overall rating by advisors have cracked IE’s Report Card series’ top 10 list every year since 2008. During that time, advisors have been consistent in their praise of the MGA’s knowledgeable support staff and the easy communication between advisors and management. Above all else, advisors are very proud of the MGA’s integrity.
“It’s a well established company,” says an IDC WIN advisor in B.C. “It’s a company you can trust and you expect that they will do the right thing.”
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