Behind Wholesaling Success and Failure

Credo recently completed in-depth interviews with a host of Canadian financial advisors to gain insights into their relationships and interactions with wholesalers.  Part of our research included asking advisors about the qualities they associate — both positively and negatively — with these business development representatives and how these qualities influence their buying decisions.

In the word cloud above, the size of the words is related to the frequency of the word being mentioned during our interviews.  The larger the word, the more frequently it was used to describe a positive quality or attribute of a wholesaler.

When asked to describe the most desirable qualities in a wholesaler, financial advisors regularly pointed to: knowledge, understanding, adding value, and reliability.  We probed advisors on each of these ideas and below are a few examples of the explanations offered by advisors:

  • knowledgeable:  advisors explained that being knowledgeable means they understand the financial advice business in a Canadian context, the company that they’re working for and the products that they either represent or compete against.
  • understanding: advisors generally explained that understanding involves a deep comprehension of the financial advisor’s business and their client base.
  • added value: advisors explained that adding value often involves offering something that financial advisor alone cannot deliver or something that truly makes the advisor’s life easier.
  • reliable: advisors explained that, to them, being reliable means that the wholesaler would be there when they are needed.

Likewise, when asked advisors to describe the least desirable qualities of wholesalers they encounter.  Financial advisors identified that they would not tolerate wholesalers who were: pushy,  too sales-oriented or self-serving.

  • Pushy: Being far too direct about the sales process — asking directly for a ticket, for example — instead of trying to learn about and partner with the advisor is a sure-fire way to be seen as pushy.
  • Too sales-oriented: Wholesaler are too sales-oriented when they come to “push the product of the day” without any knowledge of what the financial advisor and his clients might actually need.   
  • Self-serving: Sales representatives who do anything to “get their numbers up,” or “meet their quota,” cross the line between being, and not being, professional.  These wholesalers are overtly self-serving and generally not welcomed into the advisor’s office in the future.

While these qualities alone are interesting, they offer an incomplete picture of what drives the wholesaler-advisor relationship; they certainly don’t fully explain how that relationship affects product sales.  There is a significant amount of nuance associated with these qualities and they are far from the only determinants of a successful sales relationship.  Other factors that affect the relationship include:

  • Length of the relationship (wholesaler turnover)
  • Position of the fund company on the advisors product-shelf
  • The sales approach used by the wholesaler
  • Perceived perks (however small)
  • The gender of the wholesaler/advisor
  • The culture of the wholesaler/advisor

Many more factors were explored during Credo’s interviews.  However, Credo found that focusing on these manageable wholesaler characteristics is one important fundamental part of creating and maintaining a positive and mutually beneficial relationship with a Canadian financial advisor.

Credo’s Sales Experience Audit (SEA) is a unique research program that focuses on the experiences Canadian financial advisors have with the business development representatives and wholesalers of Canadian financial product manufacturers.  The program measures the customer experience and produces quantified reporting about the quality of the experiences wholesalers deliver to Canadian financial advisors.