Tom Bradley had several pieces of advice for the assembled fee-only financial advisors in his keynote address to NAPFA’s national conference on Thursday, May 20, but the most important is also the most obvious–always put the client first.
Although TDAmeritrade Institutional, the company of which Bradley is president is the national sponsor of NAPFA’s conference, that’s not the only reason he won the speaking slot. Bradley has also been a vocal advocate for the interests of the independent advisory channel, from his opposition to the so-called Merrill Lynch rule through TD’s sponsorship of programs like the NAPFA Money Bus.
Bradley began by alluding to his address to the same group last year and noting that while things could still improve, conditions for independent advisors are much better in 2010. One piece of evidence he cited to back up that contention was a front-page article from the January 3, 2010 edition of the Wall Street Journal, which talked about the increase in the number of brokers leaving wirehouses to become independent advisors.
He also made reference to surveys conducted by TDAmeritrade that found a 33% increase in the number of independent advisors during the period from the start of 2005 through the second quarter of 2009, while the number of brokers declined by 14%. During the same period, Bradley noted that assets for RIAs went up 41%, while stockbroker assets were down 15%. Last May TD found that 49% of advisors reported adding clients while 18% said the opposite. In survey results from April of this year, the number of advisors losing clients was cut to 8%, while the number of advisors adding clients rose to 68%.