Independent Channel Big and Getting Bigger

The independent channel is both the largest, and has grown the most, from 28 percent of total FA headcount in 2004 to 35 percent in 2006.

Every financial-advice channel grew in terms of advisor headcount in 2005 except for the regional and bank broker/dealers, according to recently released Cerulli Associates research. Still, in terms of its share of reps industrywide, the independent channel is both the largest, and has grown the most, from 28 percent of total FA headcount in 2004 to 35 percent in 2006.

Meanwhile, the national full-service b/d channel's share of headcount has fallen to 23 percent in 2006 from 26 percent in 2004. “With the increasing popularity of team-based business models, fee-based pricing and advisor specialization, advisors have moved away from some of the more constrictive models found at the traditional b/ds,” Cerulli writes in its report, entitled, Cerulli Associates Quantitative Update: Intermediary Channel 2006. “These trends coupled with the higher advisor payout found in the IBD and RIA channels help to explain the decreases in the regional b/d and bank b/d channels.”

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