Methodology:

America’s Top Wealth Advisors

America’s Top Financial Security Advisors

Canada’s Top Wealth Advisors

By The Numbers

Research Summary For All SHOOK Advisors
(as of February 2021)

We don't want 300,000 nominations so we set thresholds to minimize the quantity we receive:

  • 32,810 nominations received, based on thresholds
  • 16,165 invited to complete online survey
  • 13,235 telephone interviews
  • 2,595 in-person interviews at advisors’ locations
  • 692 Web-based interviews

Some say we go to extremes when evaluating Advisors… but with over 6 million Forbes readers, 116 million unique monthly visitors to Forbes.com, and a million Canadians relying on the Globe and Mail, there are countless individuals and families trusting our research.

SHOOK Research does not receive a fee in exchange for rankings.


SHOOK Research’s rankings of top advisors is based on one simple notion: “Would we recommend these Advisors to a family member or a friend?”

Unlike other rankings we will not recommend Advisors based on the numbers, such as how much money someone makes. We want to evaluate both qualitative and quantative criteria. When considering a surgeon, there are qualitative traits like education, reputation, credentials and is this person someone that is trustworthy; and quantitatively, how many operations has this surgeon performed—is it her first or thousandth…and what is the surgeon’s success rate?

Evaluating Advisors is a similar process, whether Wealth Advisors or Financial Security Advisors (FSAs).

We interview Advisors by telephone, Zoom and in-person, in the Advisors’ offices. After receiving 33,000 nominations—from banks, securities firms, custodians, insurance companies, clearing firms and others—based on our high thresholds, we check compliance records and review every 140-question survey, paying attention to such details as team structures, credentials, expertise and community involvement.

The next step is understanding business models and measuring best practices through telephone, Zoom and in-person meetings. We are measuring best practices, such as client service models, investing process and team structures. We may be old-fashion, but there’s nothing like in-person meetings. It’s not easy visiting thousands of Advisors, but there’s no substitute for looking someone in the eyes, meeting teams and better understanding the client experience.

But most importantly, we are measuring impact, which we call “SHOOK Impact.”

In short, every client and family is entrusting their Advisor with their family’s wealth and even health. That’s a pretty big responsibility! So we believe Advisors will be ultimately valued based on how they are impacting their clients’ lives.

There are countless ways we have found in which Advisors are impacting their clients’ lives. And while portfolio performance is important, this is not a criterion due to varying client objectives and lack of audited data—almost every client has different objectives, risk profiles and, consequently, portfolio performance.

Quantitative factors include revenues, revenue trends, and assets under management. (For FSAs, we also look at premiums, persistency rates and death benefits on the books.)

Our deep due diligence and attention to data verifications is especially vital because data for all rankings are self-reported.

Every Advisor is assigned values on key quantitative and qualitative metrics, including a SHOOK Impact rating.

The quantitative and qualitative criteria we measure are assigned numerical values. Mathematically, each Advisor is indexed against all other Advisors, and an algorithm assigns ratings for each Advisor, and a ranking is modeled.

By The Numbers

Research Summary For All SHOOK Advisors
(as of December 2020)

We don't want 300,000 nominations so we set thresholds to minimize the quantity we receive:

  • 32,000 nominations received, based on high thresholds and qualifications.
  • 7,556 invited to complete online survey.
  • 11,864 telephone interviews.
  • 2,336 in-person interviews at Advisors’ location.

VIDEO:


SHOOK Impact:
Learn what it takes to be great in this business.

Basic
Requirements


  • 7 years as an Advisor.
  • Minimum 1 year at current firm, with exceptions (acquisitions, etc.).
  • Advisor must be recommended, and nominated, by Firm.
  • Completion of online survey.
  • Over 50% of revenue/production/premiums must be with individuals.
  • Acceptable compliance record.
  • Deep due diligence for every candidate

Quantitative


  • Revenue/production; weightings assigned for each.
  • Assets under management—and quality of those assets—both custodied and a scrutinized look at assets held away. (Although individual numbers are used for ranking purposes, we publish the entire team's assets.)
  • Client-related data, such as retention.
  • Portfolio performance is not a factor; audited returns among Advisors are rare, and differing client objectives provide varying returns.

Qualitative


  • Telephone, Zoom and in-person meetings with Advisors (if an in-person meeting cannot be accomplished, exceptions are considered in which the interview will occur after a ranking has been published).
  • Disclosures & Compliance records. Some "dings" can be overlooked (e.g., firm or product failure beyond the scope of an Advisor's due diligence; the older a ding, the less we look). Since there are many gray areas, the SHOOK team is willing to listen to a Firm that is willing to stand behind the Advisor with written support from leadership.
  • Advisors that provide a full client experience:
    ~ Service model
    ~ Investing process
    ~ Fee structure (higher % of fee-based assets earns more points)
    ~ Breadth of services, including extensive use of Firm's platform and resources (eg, liabilities)
    ~ Planning
    ~ Team structure
  • Credentials (years of service in some cases can serve as proxy).
  • Use of team & team dynamics
  • Community involvement
  • Discussions with management, peers, competing peers
  • Telephone, Zoom and in-person meetings.

 

SHOOK engages in discussions among various levels of management about each advisor. Further discussions are made with individuals in the Advisor's office and close geographic proximity, as well as competing advisors in the local market—competitors often provide some of our best intel.

Disclosures / Compliance Issues


The following conditions will be considered in order to lessen weightings infractions:

  • Infractions that are denied or closed with no action.
  • Complaint arose from a product, service or advice initiated by a previous advisor or another member or former member of team.
  • Length of time since complaint.
  • Complaints related to product failure not related to investment advice (some limited partnerships, adjusted-rate securities, etc.).
  • Complaints that have been settled (must be proven) to appease a client who remained with the advisor for at least one year following settlement date.
  • Complaints that are proven to be meritless.
  • Actions taken as a result of administrative error or failure by firm.

Once an advisor's compliance rating falls into a tenable category, the following conditions must be met.

  1. An advisor's rating must be among SHOOK's highest qualitative measures including in-person interview.
  2. Letters of recommendation from firm.

Ranking Algorithm


The algorithm is designed to fairly compare the business practices of a large group of advisors based on quantitative and qualitative elements. Data are weighted to ensure priorities are given to dynamics such as preferred "best practices", business models, recent business activity, etc. Each variable is graded and represents a certain value for each measured component. These data are fed into an algorithm that measures thousands of advisors against each other.

SHOOK Disclosures


SHOOK is completely independent and objective and does not receive compensation from the advisors, Firms, the media, or any other source in exchange for placement on a ranking. SHOOK is funded through conferences, publications and research partners. Since every investor has unique needs, investors must carefully choose the right advisor for their own situation and perform their own due diligence. SHOOK’s research and rankings provide opinions for how to choose the right financial advisor and not indicative of future performance or representative of any one client’s experience. Portfolio performance is not a criteria due to varying client objectives and lack of audited data. Remember, past performance is not an indication of future results.

VIDEO:


Making a difference in other people’s lives:
You don’t make a living by what you get, you make a living by what you give.