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Investors Rate Top Full-Service Investment Firms

May 9, 2013

With the markets rising into record territory, investor satisfaction with “full service” investment firms is increasing as well, according to J.D. Power & Associates’ latest “U.S. Full Service Investor Satisfaction Study.” At the top of the pack was RBC Wealth Management, which finished with a satisfaction score of 820 out of 1,000, shooting up from seventh place last year (770). Fidelity Investments ranked second, as it did last year, with a score of 810 (up from 800). The top 2012 finisher, Edward Jones, dropped to third, even though its score improved from 803 to 808.

Charles Schwab, third last year with 787, dropped to fourth with 807. Raymond James finished fifth for the second year; its score rose from 786 to 802. LPL, dead even with Raymond James last year, dropped to No. 8, with 783. Merrill Lynch, last year's No. 8 (767), slipped this year to No. 9 (774).

Four firms finished at what J.D. Power indicated was below average: Morgan Stanley came in 12th this year with 760 points (down from 10th last year with 758), Chase Investment Services was 13th (738), Citigroup was 14th (727), and AXA Advisors came last (707).

The annual study measures satisfaction with seven factors: investment advisor, investment performance, account information, account offerings, commissions and fees, website, and problem resolution. For the second consecutive year, based on responses from more than 4,750 investors, it found overall investor satisfaction up — from 775 points in 2012 to 789.

But while improved performance typically drives investor satisfaction up, “not all firms achieve the same level of increase in satisfaction from this improvement,” said Craig Martin, J.D. Power's director of investment services. Investors were happier with their advisors, he noted, when they had a more collaborative relationship, in which the investors could feel to an extent responsible for their investment performance. Another major factor was communication: investors gave the highest ratings when their advisors contacted them 12 or more times a year.

By Elizabeth Jensen