FSI Bolsters FA Membership 90 Percent this Year

Since the beginning of 2011, the Financial Services Institute has increased its advisor membership by over 90 percent, rising from 15,800 to now over 30,000. Cetera, which includes independent broker/dealers Financial Network Investment Corporation, Multi-Financial Securities Corporation and PrimeVest Financial Services, tipped the scale today when it announced it enrolled 3,500 FAs for 2012 membership.

In August, LPL Financial announced it would foot the bill for its 12,000 advisors to have one-year membership to the independent broker/dealer advocacy organization, drawing a lot of attention to the effort and setting a trend in motion. Since then, there seems to be a renewed energy around this effort, as FSI spokesman Chris Paulitz put it. Also in August, Investors Capital announced it would match any donations made to FSI’s “War Chest,” an advocacy fund. FSI says 40 companies have asked for customized campaigns.

So what’s behind the movement to get their advisors on board at FSI? It’s in the broker/dealers’ best interest to have someone advocating on their behalf, especially with the increasing margin pressures and regulatory burdens facing IBDs these days. Cetera’s CEO Valerie Brown said:

With new regulations constantly coming from Washington and each of the states, our industry must get even more engaged in helping shape effective regulation. A powerful advocacy organization like FSI is critical to all firms’ success, and we are proud to help ensure FSI thrives in the future – because it directly benefits our financial advisors.

Brown also referenced FSI’s efforts to get an independent contractor bill amended in California, where Cetera is headquartered.

But a free membership to the organization could also be used to lure new recruits to these broker/dealers and differentiate themselves from others out in the marketplace. We all know how difficult and competitive recruiting is getting these days, especially for top talent, and FSI membership could be another factor for advisors to put on their “pro” list. It will be interesting to see what other firms follow suit.

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