Outsourcing service providers have always depended on third-party advisors as an important part of their channel strategy. Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen a number of changes in how service providers approach their advisor relations function. To test our observations and find out more about what is driving these changes, ISG conducted a research study of advisor relations leaders.
One of the key findings of the research is that service providers are investing in their advisor relations programs, both in terms of the size of their teams and in external spending levels. The size of the average advisor relations team has more than doubled in the past three years, growing from 1.8 to 3.9 full-time employees. While we expected to see growth, we didn’t expect team size to double.
It’s no surprise then that 97 percent of service providers who responded to our survey said they would increase spending with third-party advisors, or at least spend the same amount as the previous year. Growth in team size and advisor spend was consistent across all regions and provider types (large and small, western and Indian heritage). The large Indian-heritage firms have most aggressively grown their teams and tend to outspend their competitors.
As service providers expand their advisor relations teams, gaining access to advisors will become more difficult. Therefore, many providers are dedicating resources to cultivating relationships and educating advisors on their solutions. One of the top challenges for providers is identifying which advisors to connect with their internal business leaders.
Ultimately, the role of the advisor relations team is to ensure that each third-party advisory firm has the information it needs to secure invitations to appropriate deals. One of the key benefits of ISG’s Momentum offering is to provide the advisor relations team with a roadmap for engaging with us. This can include targeted education programs to ensure that ISG advisors know about relevant services, solutions and success stories.