The September issue of The Cerulli Edge–U.S. Asset Management Edition, from the Boston-based research firm Cerulli Associates, found that asset managers have reacted to the market crisis of 2008 by cutting their overall salesforce personnel by about 5%. However, one area that has seen significant growth, the report found, was in e-wholesalers, also called hybrid wholesalers, whose ranks grew by 23% across the industry.

Cerulli says that e-wholesalers can be a “more cost-effective way to generate sales then traditional external wholesalers, as they have lower compensation and travel expenses.” It found as well that e-wholesalers can generate about half the production of external wholesalers with those lower costs.

Using e-wholesalers also allows asset managers to address “geographically disperse or lower tier advisors,” allowing external wholesalers to focus on more densely populated areas or bigger accounts. “Alternately,” the survey reports, “an asset manager might focus their external wholesalers on 8-12 national scale broker/dealers and have e-wholesalers call on advisors at second-tier broker/dealers.”

As for other findings of the report, Cerulli said it believes that asset managers “that are willing to commit additional resources to larger regional B/Ds will see greater returns than if those same resources were spent on wirehouses.” The reason: while the regional broker/dealers are smaller, they still boast “sizable advisor forces with significant assets that are just as addressable to asset managers with thorough distribution resources.”