Bank-based financial advisors just about kept their heads above water with average transaction plus fee revenue of $26,786 in August, down 7% from July’s $28,868, according to the Bank Insurance and Securities Associations latest Monthly Productivity Report.

A big reason why July’s numbers are better is because that’s when quarterly fees hit, explained Scott Stathis, chief operating officer and managing director of Kehrer-LIMRA, the consulting firm that compiles the data for BISA. “Given the August heat and all the vacations, I’m not surprised sales were flat,” he says. “In fact, I’m surprised they weren’t down further.”

Commission-based sales, which signify new product sales by advisors, were actually up 6% in August to $15,651 from $14,734 in July, even though trendwise, commission rates are dropping as product providers strive to make their products more attractive to consumers, particularly in the fixed annuity space. “Commission rates are going down, which means the incentive to sell is also going down,” Stathis says. Or it would be if the market wasn’t making every sale so difficult. In fact, strong producers are leaving no stone unturned in their effort to keep their numbers up. “The most successful reps are out there selling other products, such as life insurance and fixed annuities,” he says. “Those products are really making a difference to the top 15% of reps.”