Researchers for Investment Executive — Marshall Bellamy, Kate Betts-Wilmott, Clare O’Hara and Dalva Potestio — surveyed 306 advisors at six banks and two credit unions to produce the results of this year’s Account Managers’ Report Card.

First, an explanation for the sake of clarity: IE uses the term “account manager” and “advisor” interchangeably throughout this eight-page special report. In all cases, we are referring to anyone who sells investment products and services within the branch. Banks and credit unions have their own ways of identifying these employees — as “financial planners,” and “sales representatives,” etc. — but IEhas bypassed these terms for the sake of consistency.

There are a few new categories in this year’s Report Card: We’ve added “support for high net-worth clients” to the questionnaire to find out how banks and credit unions are helping their advisors attract and retain the most sought-after clients in the industry; we’ve also added a “transition support” category to see what financial institutions are doing to help new advisors.

The rating system remains the same as it is in every Report Card: a random sample of advisors at each financial institution were asked to rate their satisfaction with various aspects of their bank or credit union on a scale of zero to 10, with 10 being the most favourable. Individual responses were grouped to determine the average score for each firm in all categories. No bonus points were allotted.

Of course, performance doesn’t always tell the whole story — that’s why we asked advisors to rate the importance of each category on the same scale of zero to 10. Although these scores don’t impact a firm’s standing in the Report Card, executives would be wise to pay close attention to them. As the story on page 17 reveals, satisfaction scores are highest among the financial instutions that deliver in areas deemed important by advisors.

In instances in which “N/A” appears on the main chart above, the firm does not offer that particular service. Credit unions were grouped separately from the national financial institutions. Also, IE surveyed a smaller sample from the credit unions because they are only a fraction of the size of the banks.

Scores that have fluctuated by more than 0.5 points in either direction (positively or negatively) are noted in colour; figures in red indicate the score has dropped from the 2006 survey; those in green indicate the score has improved. These same scores, coupled with hundreds of candid advisor comments, drive the content in these pages.

You’ll notice that red scores dominate this year’s chart. Read further and find out why.