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TD Ameritrade Says Breakaway Broker Movement Accelerating

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The debate continues over when-or if-the wirehouse broker exodus will happen. TD Ameritrade Institutional announced it has attracted 212 breakaway brokers in fiscal 2010, surpassing the total number of advisors making the move to independence in all of 2009. This corresponds to a 44% increase from the first three quarters of last year.

“Despite Wall Street’s attempt to play down the breakaway broker trend, the numbers indicate there has and will continue to be a strong move to independence,” said Tom Bradley, president of TD Ameritrade Institutional, in a statement. “In fact, we’re adding an average of over one new breakaway broker [each] business day.”

The fee-based fiduciary business model of independent registered investment advisors is becoming more attractive to brokers who are tied to legacy technology, proprietary products and sales-driven cultures, Bradley says.

According to the latest TD Ameritrade Institutional RIA Sentiment Survey, advisors report 62% of their new assets are coming from traditional full-commission brokerage firms. Advisors surveyed report the No. 1 reason new clients choose to move their money to an RIA is dissatisfaction with the service and fees at full-commission brokerage firms (24%). Additionally, advisors say clients also prefer the more personalized service and competitive fee structure offered by an RIA (22%).

Another significant trend supporting advisor migration is the option of joining an existing RIA, says the company. Breakaway brokers looking for the benefits of independence, but want to join or “tuck in” to an established firm, represent roughly half of the advisor transitions to TD Ameritrade Institutional, up 34% from the same time last year.