Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network (WFC) said late Monday that it expected to build on “the substantial growth it achieved in 2011” when it added 70 independent practices and 152 financial advisors. The network, which is the independent-advisor channel of Wells Fargo, also saw client assets under management grow 18% to $52.7 billion last year.
The company says FiNet has produced double-digit annual growth since its founding in 2001, earning it the respect of recruiters and other experts.
“Those are impressive results,” said executive-search consulant Mark Elzweig (left) of New York-based Elzweig Co., in an interview with AdvisorOne. “Wells Fargo has rock-solid financials and is a well-known household name firm.”
Among the wirehouse firms—Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAC), Morgan Stanley (MS), UBS (UBS) and Wells Fargo, “It’s the only major wirehouse with an independent channel,” Elzweig noted. “This makes it a comfortable choice for advisors from competing wirehouses who want to go independent.”
This should be a big plus for Wells Fargo going forward, he adds. “FiNet will continue to be an attractive destination for breakaway brokers and is very well positioned as the movement to independence continues to gain steam.”
Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network now has more than 1,000 business owners and advisors in 528 practices nationwide.
Wells Fargo Advisors has about $1.2 trillion in client assets and includes 15,134 full-service financial advisors and 3,352 licensed bankers.
“We continue to be focused on helping successful financial advisors establish and grow independent practices,” said John Peluso (right), president of Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network, in a statement.
“Providing quality advisors with the choice and flexibility they want and need to be as successful as possible is central to our mission,” Peluso added, noting that that last year’s growth resulted from independent financial advisors’ efforts to bring in new clients and service existing ones.
To help facilitate such growth, FiNet rolled out a bonus program in 2011 referred to as the Voluntary Growth Opportunity Award. The program reinvests capital into independently owned practices and awards advisors for “gathering new client assets, ensuring loyalty through the development of a written investment plan, and taking steps to secure the future of their practice through continuity and business valuation plans,” the company says.
To earn thus reinvestment bonus, advisors choose to focus their growth efforts from among these activities, Wells adds.
Breakaways: Big or Little Trend?
A survey of some 2,500 traditional employee advisors released last week found that more than 70% are considering a move to independence, according to Diamond Consultants, a recruiting and consulting firm. Still, experts say, just 10% at most will actually make the move.