In the wake of numerous Wall Street scandals and the move by wirehouses toward more comprehensive financial planning initiatives (ones that many independents have been hawking for years), independent broker/dealers seem to be gaining more traction than ever. But which independent firms are bringing in the best brokers? Which are the ones surging to the front of the line?
According to San Francisco-based Tiburon Strategic Advisors, it's LPL Financial Services.
“Traditionally, LPL and Raymond James have always stood out,” says Tiburon managing director Chip Roame. Roame noted that executive management and technology are often among the main reasons those firms do so well.
The firm surveyed nearly 1,500 reps at nine of the larger independent broker/dealers. LPL ruled the roost in almost every major category, including payouts and fees, satisfaction with executive management, technical support and sales and marketing support.
The study continues a string of good fortune for the firm. It brought in more than $780 million in revenue in 2002 and manages more than $48 billion.
Faring nearly as well was Raymond James (which had the second-highest scores in the survey) and fellow Florida natives Mutual Service Corporation (the third-place finisher). The surveys are run through Tiburon's Web site, independentrepbestpractices.com, and they are compiled roughly every three months. Tiburon started the surveys in late 2001.
SunAmerica, the largest independent broker/dealer, came in a tie for fifth, but along with San Diego-based Sentra-Spelman, was most lauded by producers of more than $1 million. Last place among the top nine was American Express Financial Advisors, which rated its executive management poorly.
“They traditionally have not done well,” Roame says.
AIG owns five of the nine firms surveyed, including SunAmerica, Sentra-Spelman and Royal Alliance.