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June 2019

IRF Examines How Top-Performing Financial Services Handle Incentives & Rewards

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The Incentive Research Foundation announced the release of "What Top Performing Financial Services Firms Do Differently for Incentives and Rewards," the second release in its signature series, 2019 Top Performer Studies. The study identifies the non-cash rewards strategies and tactics used by top-performing financial services firms. The study also provides benchmarks and best practices to help financial services firms design effective non-cash rewards programs.

"'What Top Performing Financial Services Firms Do Differently for Incentives and Rewards' shows once again how incentives, rewards and recognition strategies are a primary way top-performing organizations manage organizational performance and ultimately drive competitive advantage," said Melissa Van Dyke, president of the IRF. "While these findings are specific to the financial services industry, they are 100 percent aligned with what we have found in other verticals."

The report summarizes findings from the data collected across multiple financial services firms and compares the results of top-performing financial services firms to those of average-performing financial services firms.

The report first presents key overall findings, then drills down to results for sales reward programs, channel partner reward programs, and employee reward programs.

Insights from the study include:

  • Executives at top-performing financial services firms regard their reward and recognition programs as a competitive advantage (52 percent more likely than average performers).
  • Executives at top-performing financial services firms strongly agree that their reward and recognition programs are effective retention tools (36 percent more likely than average performers).
  • Top-performing financial services firms are nearly twice as likely to centralize all non-cash rewards activity and manage it top-down.
  • Top-performing financial services firms are more likely to structure their programs with the goal of reaching each participant vs. only recognizing the top-performing participants (29 percent more likely).
  • The average award value is $7,500 per person for their channel/dealer partner incentive trips for top-performing financial firms (compared to $5,000 at average-performing firms).
  • Sales incentive programs at top-performing financial services firms were more likely than those at average-performing firms to award a variable vs. fixed number of top-performer trip winners (44 percent more likely).
  • Program owners at top-performing financial services firms estimated that 35 percent of employees would earn non-cash rewards that year (compared to 28 percent at average-performing firms).

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