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Driving Advisory Business for a Leading Broker-Dealer

One of the largest independent broker-dealers in the U.S. saw an opportunity to bring business onto its platform, and help advisors grow in the process.


One of the largest independent broker-dealers in the U.S. was looking to drive growth in its advisory businesses, both as an offensive and defensive move. The firm believed that advisory relationships were the way of the future, and felt that its advisors needed strong advisory practices to succeed. Furthermore, the firm knew that significant business was “held away” in accounts that were not on its core advisory platform; it saw an opportunity to bring this money onto its platform, and to help advisors grow in the process.

The shift to advisory business was strong in the two years leading up to the planned Department of Labor fiduciary rule, which called for advisors to avoid conflicts of interest when giving advice to their clients. But once that implementation was delayed, momentum slowed. Advisors seemed to be taking a “wait and see” approach—they were not willing to risk client or practice disruption in the face of uncertainty. But the firm’s belief in advisory had not changed. It just needed to restart the momentum.


ZS worked with the firm to identify advisors who were candidates to do substantially more advisory business. This included a quantitative analysis and segmentation of advisors based on their current practice characteristics and book of business, and a qualitative segmentation based on advisor needs and practice aspirations. We identified four advisor segments that were strong candidates for change, but faced unique barriers to doing so, or had different goals in making a change.

Building from the segmentation, we developed an umbrella campaign around advisory with custom messaging and tools to address the unique needs of each segment. The campaign included marketing materials and advisor testimonials, as well as business impact calculators and other tools. We worked with the broker-dealer’s team of internal consultants to prioritize advisors for personal outreach and to launch the program.


  • A cohesive advisory program: For the first time, the client had a cohesive program and set of messages around the move to advisory—covering the “what,” “why,” “when,” “how” and “what if.” It launched its first-ever coordinated, multi-channel campaign to advisors, including personal outreach supplemented and coordinated with digital and direct mail. The firm viewed this as the blueprint for how all future advisor programs would be designed.
  • On track for the advisory goal: When we last checked in, the firm was on track to reach its goals for advisory business transitions in terms of number of accounts and assets under advisory. The program seems to have rebooted the firm’s advisory efforts even in the face of an uncertain regulatory environment.