How financial advisors rate their dealer firms in Investment Executive's (IE) annual Dealers' Report Card may change from one year to the next, but how the Report Card is put together remains consistent.

This year, IE research journalists Latifa Abdin, Sophie Allen-Barron, Charles Bossy and Jennifer Cheng surveyed 506 advisors at 11 mutual fund dealer firms. As in previous years, advisors were asked to give two ratings for each of the 30 categories included on the main table (see page C4): one for the firm's performance and a second for the importance of that category to the advisor's business. The ratings are based on a scale of zero to 10, with zero meaning "poor" or "unimportant" and 10 meaning "excellent" or "critically important."

Ratings that increased by a margin of a half a point or more compared with last year are highlighted in green on the main table. A red rating indicates that the rating for that category has decreased by the same margin year-over-year.

The questions included in the 2017 edition of the Report Card survey were virtually unchanged from last year, but that's not to say there's nothing new about this year's Report Card. Specifically, the "firm's succession program for advisors" was removed from the main table because not enough advisors rated this category to produce a reasonable sample for their firms. In addition, two supplementary questions were added to this year's survey to gather advisors' opinions on industry trends.

In the first question, advisors were asked if they're in favour of the Canadian Securities Administrators' proposal to introduce a "best interest" standard to the rules governing the client/registrant relationship. In the second question, advisors were asked if their firm encourages advisors to drop the smallest clients from their books of business and, if so, what the cutoff for accounts is in dollar terms.

Also, IE is expanding its coverage of this Report Card online this year with the addition of two exclusive slide shows. One slide show breaks down the average advisor numbers for each firm included in the Report Card. The second slide show highlights how advisors have rated their firm compared with the average over the past decade.

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