Do you manage too many products?

By Keith Pangretitsch | August 13, 2012 | Last updated on August 13, 2012
2 min read

Do you know the number of products you manage? Many advisors don’t.

Whenever I ask advisors how many positions they have, the answer’s usually, “I don’t know; a lot.”

Our research finds the average advisor’s book has more than 400 individual positions.

Read: Product allocation more important than ever

This number shocks most advisors. Often, the majority of their assets are with the top 50 names. On average, the 51st position in an advisor’s book is less than $225,000.

In other words, positions 51 through 400+ are smaller than a quarter of a million. (The 40-odd books we’ve reviewed each had an average of more than $80 million in assets.)

Read: Why to focus on specific clients

What’s more, advisors usually tell me they feel comfortable managing fewer than 30 positions.

Paring down gives you more time to concentrate on your best positions. Not only will you be more informed, you will be able to more effectively leverage your preparation time for client meetings.

We discovered a similar issue with regards to the number of orphaned positions – positions that are only held by one client account. The average advisor had more than 90 orphaned stock positions.

Clients inherit and hold assets that you may not have researched. Failing to staying on top of these positions is not only a potential compliance risk, but also undermines your ability to serve the client.

Deciding upon an investment philosophy you believe in and stick to is a more proactive approach to managing client accounts. And they, in turn, will appreciate your conviction.

The same holds true for mutual funds. The average advisor has more than 140 mutual funds in their clients’ accounts. I have a tough time keeping track of our 24 mutual funds despite being involved in the updates for the funds.

Our analysis shows the top three-to-five funds in each asset-class category represent more than 70% of the category’s assets, yet there were often more than 30 funds in the larger categories like Canadian equity or fixed-income.

For each category, scaling back your positions to your top three or four will likely give you a better or similar outcome.

Read: A veteran’s investment philosophy

Another common theme we uncovered was the level of Canadian exposure. The averages show that 85%-to-90% of all assets in an individual portfolio are Canadian.

Sales trends show some interest in moving away from this exaggerated bet on Canada, but not significantly. Meanwhile, the TSX has underperformed the Russell 3000 by 19.96% over the last year and 5.87% compounded over the last three years.

Advisors add tremendous value when they have the time to think deeply about client situations. Focusing on investment solutions could go a long way to freeing up that desired time.

Keith Pangretitsch is director, national sales at Russell Investments Canada Limited, who has a passion for helping advisors grow more efficient and profitable businesses. He is an active member of Russell’s Practice Management program which has worked with more than 1,200 advisory teams across North America and Europe.

Keith Pangretitsch