About 9% of brokers and advisors say they are likely to consider switching from their current employer to another firm in the next 12 months, up from 5% last year, a study by National Financial Services LLC, finds. The company, which offers advisor recruitment and other services to financial service firms, is a subsidiary of Fidelity Investments Inc., Boston.

National Financial’s annual study, called the Broker and Advisor Sentiment Index, saw a slight drop in job satisfaction among brokers and advisors, to 7.5, compared to last year’s 7.71. The index is based on a scale of 0 to 10.

It found 62% of those surveyed would prefer moving to a different type of firm-such as an independent broker-dealer, regional firm or registered investment advisor, rather than one similar to their current employer.

Compared to its previous studies, National Financial saw a decline in the ratio of those citing banks and insurance firms as the type of company they would prefer to work.

Among brokers and advisors who have recently moved, “a change in the firm’s direction” was their main reason for switching firms.

Among those who are considering switching this year, “better pay,” “desire for more independence and freedom” and “unhappiness with changes in a firm’s direction,” in that order, were the top 3 reasons for wanting to leave.

One of the biggest challenges facing those who change employers is finding new customers, cited by 42% of those who switched.

A firm’s work environment and satisfactory clearing and settlement systems are the leading grounds for satisfaction with their employers cited by brokers and advisors, followed by compensation, professional development opportunities, products and tools, and technology.

Conversely, the study also found that work environment, products, and clearing and settlement practices tended to be cited as areas of relatively lower satisfaction.

“While it remains important for firms to invest across all support areas, they may have an opportunity to differentiate themselves by making incremental investments in those areas of lower satisfaction,” the report states.

Brokers and advisors continue to favor more fee-based compensation, with 63% indicating they were hoping for some fee-based pay. Currently, only 49% report that they are paid that way.

Study participants expected mutual funds and annuities to continue as their top-selling investment products. But compared to their current product lineup, they expect to see disproportionately higher growth over the next 5 years of separately managed accounts, exchange traded funds, 401(k)s and alternative investments.

“With nearly twice as many brokers and advisors considering switching firms, combined with the fact that the top reason for actually switching is driven by a change in their employer’s direction, it is imperative that broker-dealers maintain a positive work environment and take into account how decisions affecting their firm’s futures will influence broker loyalty,” commented Sandra Metraux, executive vice president, National Financial.