Annual Member Trends Survey Reveals Attitudes on Wide-ranging Industry Issues and IMCA Topics

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Members split on the potential impact of robo-advice, likely to recommend IMCA and attend its conferences

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Whether online investment tools ultimately threaten or support a practice, investment advisors and wealth managers must continually advance their knowledge and skills to differentiate themselves in today’s competitive marketplace.

Investment Management Consultants Association® (IMCA®) today released the results of its annual member trends survey. The findings reveal IMCA members’ attitudes on timely industry issues like the potential impact of “robo-advice,” views on the value of IMCA products and services, including conference and education benefits, amount of social media use and industry publication readership.

IMCA members’ views on the proliferation of robo-advice – online tools, algorithms and platforms – and its impact on how investment advice and wealth management services are delivered, were mixed. Key findings include:

  •     More than half (51.7 percent) of IMCA members think online investment tools will displace unproductive, low-end advisors but will not impact the best advisors.
  •     Approximately 40 percent described robo-advice as a complement to personal investment advisors that will help the business serve more people.
  •     More than a third (37 percent) responded that robo-advice poses no threat to their personal business.
  •     Only 3.6 percent of respondents called robo-advice “a flash in the pan that will not last.”

“These beliefs about the role of technology and the changing nature of investment advice underscore the need for advisors to grow their competence and earn advanced certifications,” said IMCA executive director and CEO Sean R. Walters, CAE. “Whether online investment tools ultimately threaten or support a practice, investment advisors and wealth managers must continually advance their knowledge and skills to differentiate themselves in today’s competitive marketplace.”

Nearly 60 percent of member survey respondents indicated IMCA conferences are superior to other conferences they attend. Most members decide to attend IMCA conferences primarily based on the content, cost and continuing education opportunities offered. Continuing education topics that IMCA members reported are most relevant and important include managing portfolio risk, advanced portfolio construction, and behavioral finance. Eight out of 10 IMCA members would attend an online course to earn continuing education (CE) on one of these topics.

In addition to conferences, members are increasingly pleased with the suite of products and services IMCA offers, according to the survey. IMCA’s net promoter score (NPS) – the measure of how much customers are inclined to promote a brand, product or service to peers – has steadily increased over five years to 39 (from 35 in 2014). The average professional association scores a 15 as an NPS (American Society of Association Executives, Decision to Join, 2007.).

The total number of IMCA members and certificants has ballooned in recent years to more than 10,000. Membership retention in 2014 was 91 percent. The survey captured demographic trends indicating that IMCA’s growth continues to be fueled by younger practitioners predominantly from dual-registered independent broker-dealer and RIA firms. Nearly eight out of 10 (77 percent) of IMCA members serve individual (or family-office) clients, and 50 percent serve at least some institutional clients.

The IMCA 2015 Annual Conference in Las Vegas, April 26-29, features a panel discussion focused on whether robo-advisory tools are a threat or an opportunity.

About IMCA
Established in 1985, Investment Management Consultants Association® (IMCA®) is a nonprofit professional association and credentialing organization with more than 10,000 individual members and certificants worldwide. IMCA members collectively manage more than $2.477 trillion, providing investment consulting and wealth management services to individual and institutional clients. Since 1988, IMCA has offered the Certified Investment Management Analyst® (CIMA®) certification, which earned accreditation by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in April 2011, making it the first financial services credential in the United States to meet international standards (ISO 17024) for personnel certification. IMCA’s Certified Private Wealth Advisor® (CPWA®) certification is suited for wealth management professionals working with high-net-worth clients. In 2014, IMCA conferences and workshops hosted nearly 4,000 attendees.

IMCA® and Investment Management Consultants Association® are registered trademarks of Investment Management Consultants Association Inc. CIMA®, Certified Investment Management Analyst®, CIMC®, CPWA®, and Certified Private Wealth Advisor® are registered certification marks of Investment Management Consultants Association Inc. Investment Management Consultants Association Inc. does not discriminate in educational opportunities or practices on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, disability, or any other characteristic protected by law.

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Ryan Hoffman
Investment Management Consultants Association
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