What was the highlight of your 2009 results and what do you anticipate for your recruiting results in 2010?
In 2009, we attracted 160 advisors into the channel. That was a very successful year.
We expect recruiting in 2010 to be in that neighborhood, with growth that could be anywhere from flat to up to 10 percent above that.
One of the key measures we look at is new qualified leads, which means new demand for the business model.
The number of new experienced advisors that we spoke with for the first time was a record in the first quarter of 2010. Thus, we still see a lot of demand for the model and a lot of interest on the part of advisors in exploring it.
What are advisors’ views on independence these days?
There is some misunderstanding of what being independent truly is, which isn’t for everyone. However, more and more advisors have witnessed a colleague going independent, either with us or with one of our competitors, and they see it has worked for this advisor and that the advisor is happy in that environment.
More are asking for us to tell them more about the independent model, and they want to learn more about it.
We are also seeing longer lead times for advisors to make decisions than during the late ’08 and ’09 period, when we saw a condensed due diligence period.
This means we’re moving to eight to 12 months as a decision-making timeframe.
Where are your new advisors joining from, and why?
All 160 advisors last year came over from rival firms. UBS, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney and Merrill Lynch represent about 70 percent of the advisors that join us historically, and that did not change during the crisis. We expect that this situation should remain to be the case.
About 95 percent of all advisors that join us have been an employee at a competitor, and the average level of experience is 19 years.
In addition to the brand, it’s the depth and breadth of our product platform. If you’ve been at a national full-service firm your entire career, you know what you are going to get at Wells Fargo Advisors, a national full-service product platform.
And you’re getting the brand. It’s a combination and a unique intersection where we sit, between the brand and the national full-service platform coupled with an ability to operate your own business. That’s the unique nature of our space.