In order to be considered, at least 10% of the producing reps of the 79 broker/dealer that participated in Investment Advisor's annual directory (data as of April 1; published in June) must cast valid ballots. A valid ballot must include contact information for each individual, as well as the rep's individual CRD number and the B/D's CRD number. That information is confirmed (for all ballots cast) by IA staff using FINRA's online BrokerCheck database. Each voter must also rate his or her broker/dealer on all 14 individual categories, as well as a 15th category that asks for an overall rating, which is weighted more heavily (30%) in the final score (5% weighting for each of the 14 categories).
Those broker/dealers receiving the highest average rating from their reps are deemed Broker/Dealers of the Year in four different divisions based on the number of producing reps in each broker/dealer: Division I includes B/Ds with up to 199 reps; Division II comprises broker/dealers with from 200 to 499 reps; Division III is for B/Ds with 500 to 999 reps; and the largest, Division IV, is reserved for B/Ds with more than 1,000 producing reps.
In 2008, 4,959 votes were cast, of which 186 were rejected because the voters' identities or affiliations could not be confirmed, resulting in there being 4,773 valid votes cast.
All voting took place from June 1 through July 1 online at www.investmentadvisor.com. The Investment Advisor editorial staff alone monitors the voting process, confirms each vote, compiles the vote, and scrupulously maintains the anonymity of each voter's identity and ratings.
Starting in 2006, the leaders of the winning Broker/Dealers of the Year constitute Investment Advisor's Broker/Dealer Advisory Board for a year after their election; the IA editorial staff surveys those leaders and conducts regular interviews with them individually and collectively to gauge the state of the independent broker/dealer community.