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Nearly 4 in 10 advisors either have not identified a buyer for their practice or plan to reassign their clients at retirement, according to a new report.

Cerulli Associates, Boston, published this finding in the third quarter 2012 issue of “The Cerulli Edge Advisor Edition.” Covering topics shaping the financial services industry, the publication draws on interviews and surveys with thousands of financial advisors and industry executives across all intermediary channels.

The survey finds that more than in five advisors (21%) have not solidified an outside buyer for their practice. An additional 11% say their firm will reassign clients their clients in exchange for compensation. And 5% of advisors will receive no compensation after their clients are reassigned.

Twenty percent of advisors, the report states, plan to hand off their practice to a junior employee or employees; and equal percentage has designated an existing partner to take over their practice. And 13% have tapped a non-partner successor.

The survey observes that more than half of advisors (53%) are within 15 years of expected retirement. Nearly a third of these (32%) are within the 50 to 59 age group. Just over 1 in 6 (17%) are between ages 60 and 69. And 4% of advisors are over age 70.

Cerulli pegs at $2.3 trillion assets that are controlled by advisors who are older than 60 years of age. Of the 66,212 advisors in this age group, nearly half are independent broker-dealers (29,443), followed by wirehouse reps (13,237) and insurance professionals (11,140).

Separately, the Cerulli report observes that advisors are most likely to cite consumer awareness (65% of those polled) and time commitment (63%) as the biggest obstacles to providing retirement income advice. Other factors cited by more than 4 in 10 respondents included product complexity (48%), unable to garner significant compensation (45%) and client resistance (44%)

Among the elements addressed in retirement income plans are Social Security (cited by 84% of respondents), client’s budgets (77%), longevity scenarios (76%), inflation (72%) and client’s lifestyle (69%). Other elements that advisors say they address in retirement income plans include taxes (66%), healthcare (59%), estates (54%) and Medicare (35%).