Independent advisors continue to pull business away from larger rivals.

According to a survey by TD Ameritrade Institutional, 68% of independent advisors increased their roster of clients over the last six months, up 13% from the previous quarter.

“RIAs’ independent, fee-based and fiduciary approach to wealth management continues to resonate with investors,” Tom Bradley, the president of TD Amertirade Institutional, said in a press release. “Dissatisfaction with full-commission brokerage firms continues to be the top reason independent advisors report gaining clients. Respondents also indicate their clients prefer the personalized service and competitive fee structure provided by independent advisors and that, as fiduciaries, RIAs are required to offer advice that is in the best interest of clients.”

The quarterly survey of 500 registered investment advisors indicated that these advisors continue to win business from traditional full-commission firms and broker-dealers, with 61% of new business originating from these competitors, up 22% from a year earlier.

This dip into the RIA universe is a trend that isn’t going anywhere. Sparked by the ruthless scrutiny of the large institutional brokerage firms during the market downturn in 2007 and 2008, independent broker-dealers and custodians have enjoyed triple-digit increases in their recruitment numbers from the wirehouses over the past couple of years.

Now, with many longtime institutional firms hoping to get in on the fad, broker-dealers large and small are opening up RIA and independent divisions. Just last week, BNY Mellon hired Peter L. Berg, to serve as a vice president and sales director to promote custody services to RIAs nationally. Berg said he plans to “increase revenues by double digits” by cross-selling to existing customers and targeting breakaway brokers.

The number of RIAs increasing salaries and bonuses has nearly doubled over the past six months from 20% to 30%. In response to this growth, RIAs are spending more on employee benefits (up 50%), professional development and training (up 32%), technology (up 17%) and staffing (up 16%) to attract and retain talent and to gain c

The number of advisors decreasing business spending is down 40% over the last six months. Also, 83% of RIAs surveyed said they avoided cost cutting over the past six months.

Advisors who increased business spending increased spending an average of 22% and chose to invest in technology and marketing. Advisors who decreased business spending trimmed an average of 25% of total expenses, mainly cutting travel, marketing, salaries and bonuses.

Despite the market volatility over the past several years, RIAs remain bullish in their long-term approach to investment management, with a 50% allocation to equities, up two-percentage points from the previous quarter and three-percentage points from a year earlier.

The survey indicates advisors are moving out of cash as allocations are down six-percentage points to 9% from the previous quarter.

Fixed income (26%) and international investments allocations (12%) remained steady from the previous quarter.

According to the survey, RIAs are increasingly positive as to their economic outlook, with over 53% remaining optimisti, up 40% from a year earlier.

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