June 9, 2010

TD Ameritrade Survey: RIAs Continue to Add Clients and Assets

Advisors increased spending on salaries and bonuses in response to growth

Independent RIAs continued to build momentum in the last quarter, taking on new clients and assets over the last six months, according to a recent advisor sentiment survey released Wednesday, June 9, by TD Ameritrade Institutional, a division of TD Ameritrade, Inc., a broker/dealer subsidiary of TD Ameritrade Holding Corp.

The quarterly survey of 500 RIAs showed strong business growth, with 68% of respondents indicating an increase in the number of clients over the last six months, up 13% over the previous quarter. The growth came at the expense of traditional full-commission firms and broker/dealers, with 61% of new business originating from these competitors, up 22% over the previous year.

"RIAs' independent, fee-based and fiduciary approach to wealth management continues to resonate with investors," Tom Bradley, president of TD Ameritrade Institutional, said in a statement. "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."

TD Ameritrade International reported these key findings from its quarterly survey:

  1. ? Responding to the growth of their businesses, the number of RIAs increasing salaries and bonuses jumped from 20% to 39% over the past six months. Advisors increased spending on employee benefits by 50%, professional development and training by 32%, technology by 17% and staffing by 16%.
  1. ? The number of cost-cutters declined by 40% over the last six months, with 83% of RIAs surveyed saying they had avoided cutbacks. Advisors who decreased business spending trimmed an average of 25%, mainly from travel, marketing, salaries and bonuses.
  1. ? RIAs remained steady and bullish in their long-term approach to investment management, despite market volatility, with a 50% allocation to equities, up two percentage points from the previous quarter and up three points from the prior year. The survey indicated advisors were moving out of cash as allocations were down from 15% to 9% from the previous quarter. Fixed income and international investments allocations remained steady from the previous three-month period at 26% and 12%, respectively.
  1. ? RIAs were increasingly positive in their outlook for the economy, with more than 53% indicating optimism, up 40% from the previous year.

Michael S. Fischer (msf7@columbia.edu) is a New York-based financial writer and editor and a frequent contributor to WealthManagerWeb.com.

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