Fidelity helped transition 120 breakaway advisors to the independent model in the first three quarters of this year, down 30 from a year earlier, according to Michael Durbin, president of Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services.

However, the assets those advisors brought to the firm remained steady at about $8 billion, which means the average assets wirehouse advisors are taking independent is up 26%.

While Durbin conceded this is partly due to improved market performance swelling advisors’ assets under management, he also said that the fact advisors with greater assets under management were going independent shows that the industry is normalizing. Whereas some advisors jumped ship over the past two years due to fears about the direction their broker-dealers were headed, now they’re doing so because it makes sense for their businesses and in order to create a meaningful succession plan, something that’s a lot more difficult in the wirehouse arena, Durbin said. Of the 120 advisors transitioning to independence, five brought with them more than $500 million apiece.

Just over half of breakaway advisors, 55%, either joined a broker-dealer affiliate of Fidelity’s National Financial clearing house or an existing registered investment advisor (RIA). The remainder started their own businesses. Virtually all the advisors were dually licensed; while it was common for breakaway advisors with a healthy chuck of fee business to jettison their transaction counts in the past, no advisor is willing to ditch a source of potential revenue in current market conditions. 


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