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READER POLL: Industry Knowledge, Competitive Insights Top Wholesaler Attributes

Voting remains underway for the 2019 NAPA Top DC Wholesalers – and this week we asked NAPA Net readers what attributes they prized in the individuals who provide that support.

Those DC wholesalers – we call them “Wingmen” because if they are doing their job, they have your back – bring a lot to the table. But knowing that it might well mean different things to different people, this week we asked NAPA Net readers to put some structure around the concept.

Asked to name (all) the attributes they prize in their DC wholesaler partners, NAPA Net readers listed (more than one response was permitted):

91% - Knowledge of the industry
86% - Offer competitive insights
59% - Providing access to tools
50% - Provide useful information about their products
48% - Business development insights
45% - Thought leadership
32% - Provide networking opportunities
32% - ERISA/regulatory expertise
32% - Bringing ideas
23% - Acting as an extension of your practice
14% - Act as a sounding board
9% - Offer plan design guidance

Additionally, there were a number that prized attributes in an “other” category, including: funding for events and seminars, providing direct access to internal resources such as portfolio managers, and making sure the recordkeeper does its job. There was also a consistent sense of interest in how they provided, specifically “a high level of service and assistance,” “responsiveness,” and “integrity, on-time, respect for peers.” Readers also expressed a preference for wholesalers who “know me and my business well enough to serve my needs” and “someone who is not afraid to ask questions.” One reader explained, “while I value all the boxes I checked only use funds that score well for my clients, it’s important to work with partners I like and consider friends.”

Single Best?

Asked to narrow those attributes down to a single one – well, the aforementioned diversity of perspectives came through loud and clear, though the field was narrowed. The top two were:

18% - Offer competitive insights
18% - Provide useful information about their products

While #3 went to business development insights (14%), followed by knowledge of the industry (9%), acting as an extension of your practice (9%), and providing access to tools (9%). Providing networking opportunities was cited by less than 5%, as was “bringing ideas.”

Pet Peeves

We asked if there were any “pet peeves” about DC wholesalers, and while there weren’t many – there were a few. Here’s a sampling:

“Please don't spend 1+ hours every time we meet asking about our business practices. Take notes so you don't have to start from scratch each meeting!”

“When I’m being called on for the first time, it is always surprising how many wholesalers will not do any basic research into me or our practice. When I work with a wholesaler, I typically know what I need, but I need the wholesaler to understand and navigate their own bureaucracy to accomplish the task.”

“Wholesalers that feel they have to drop names of businesses or other financial advisors to gain creditability with our practice. In fact, those wholesalers are not invited back.”

“Overly excitedly about products and wasting my time to tell me that they have the same thing everyone else does... making the meeting stretch unnecessarily.”

“Push product.”

“Don't call me the week before for a meeting – I’m always booked. If you value my time (and yours!), schedule further in advance.”

“When they use an outside firm to make appointments.”

“I usually avoid wholesalers that do not provide value and/or their funds do not score well.”

“When they come and talk about a product we specifically told them in advance we weren’t interested in. When they come only to ‘catch up’ and the visit is completely social, we do not have time to chit chat during work hours.”

“One in particular frequently does not show up when scheduled, is slow to respond. Others are too quick to share new business with our firm with other local firms.”

“Reading from a script, not listening, use of a scheduler for meeting requests.”

“Suggesting we meet to discuss something we already discussed (e.g., prospecting through LinkedIn).”

“Ones who feel their job is to ‘sell’ but not maintain.”

‘Supporting’ Role

That said, as one reader remarked, “We have great support from our local wholesalers. They provide great support to our practice.”

As for some specific experiences…

“My favorite will be when a recordkeeping wholesaler recommended me as the advisor on a retirement plan opportunity. The plan was direct with no advisor and the wholesaler recommended to plan sponsor they hire me.”

“He introduced us to his business banking team, which led to new opportunities for us. He also knows a lot about the industry and our competition.”

“I receive a lot of support from my wholesalers that I consider my favorite, but three in particular showed up at my dad’s wake when he passed at the beginning of the year. While it was a quick visit, this was important to me.”

“A wholesaler helped with a new plan enrollment, sent all the enrollment forms to be processed, only to find out that the package with the forms was lost. Without missing a beat, this wholesaler went back to the company and conducted another enrollment meeting by himself. I have never forgotten the character and initiative displayed by this person, and it has set the tone for my expectations for all wholesalers since. If you make a mistake, own it and correct it instead of blaming someone or something for the error or mistake. True leadership in action!”

Thanks to all who participated in this week’s NAPA Net reader poll! And if you haven’t yet voted for your favorite DC wholesaler(s) – voting remains open through August 15. Show your support by backing those who have your back at