Posted September 19, 2017 by Matthew Fronczke
Asset managers are staring down many challenges with change an inevitable conclusion to the status quo. As the business changes, the role of the wholesaler is changing as well. We are seeing that wholesalers are now salespeople, becoming top-class consultants providing advisors with holistic solutions. Out goes the VP of Sales, in come the Advisor Consultants, Investment Consultants, Market Leaders, and other recently reformed wholesalers vying for the hearts and wallets of the financial intermediary community.
Despite the newly designated titles, they still are expected to sell and meet production goals! Additionally, many wholesalers have matured and sharpened their skills from an era where brokerage business that commanded a completely different relationship than today’s advisory business. On top of that, technology is augmenting intuition and gut instinct, providing accurate detail on advisors practices, portfolios, and preferences. With an eye on increased efficiency and effectiveness, data has quickly become a critical component of the salesperson’s tool kit.
While attrition of sales organizations is likely, most teams already have highly talented individuals who can excel under new performance expectations. Thus, many sales organizations can be successful with the people they already have. Throughout their career at their firms, salespeople have been developing investment skills and deep knowledge of the products and service offerings, making additional training/educational requirements less daunting. Nevertheless, carefully developed training programs can ensure salespeople can face off against the most sophisticated advisors, building and sustaining credibility as a peer and partner. Those that want to be successful will want to sharpen current skills and develop new ones – particularly in investment, business, engagement, and technology skills as well as a few new ones. See our “Are Your Salespeople Prepared for the Future?” blog on the future skill set of salespeople.
Expectations for wholesalers are at an all-time high. After all, they should be experts in capital markets, portfolio construction, equity markets, fixed-income markets, alternative markets, the benefits of indexation, the benefits of active advisor practice and business management, and – don’t forget – technology and data advocates. And, on top of all that, they also need to be good at selling! However, rarely are we really good at everything. More often than not we are really good at some things, proficient at others, and need improvement in other areas. While sales organizations need “good salespeople are smart, motivated, and adaptable,” they also need to embrace team-based engagement. Ensure each salesperson is playing to his/her skills and arm each with the specialist and team support needed to effectively manage a territory. Nobody can afford to go in alone any longer.
Consultants are in fact rewarded for creating new business and building relationships. This is true for almost all individuals in a business development role. However, more often than not, the variable component of compensation is associated with firm revenue and not on a production number. That is not to say salespeople within the distribution arm of an asset management organization cannot be paid on sales. They can and should be rewarded for growth in their territories. Nevertheless, sales leadership need to be aware that current compensation models are misaligned with how advisors are now getting paid (fee-for-advice) and must ensure compensation reflects the desired behaviors and outcomes. While there are many potential paths forward, a higher base salary and a variable component tied to team production and growth need to be considered. After all, this is not unique to our industry. Even investment bankers and traders are being paid less on individual and more on the larger group’s achievements. As more emphasis is being placed on group success, asset management wholesalers aren’t too far off. Stay tuned for more detail on the future of wholesaler compensation in the soon to be released DST report “Aligning Sales Compensation with the Changing Distribution Landscape.”
As your sales team evolves, make sure there is depth to your wholesaler’s titles. A name does in fact mean a whole lot more than what’s posted on a business card. In order to ensure that has meaning, skills, behaviors, and motivations must be aligned.
categories: consulting, industry trends, national accounts, wholesaler
The views expressed in this publication are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of DST Systems, Inc. or its affiliates, subsidiaries, joint ventures, officers, directors, or management.