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RIAs, dually registered advisors enjoying double-digit AUM growth

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The number of financial advisors grew by a 5-year compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.4 percent between 2008 and 2013, according to new research.

Cerulli Associates unveils this finding in the first quarter 2015 issue of “The Cerulli Edge: Advisor Edition.” The research examines critical issues facing financial advisors.

The research reveals that assets under management of registered investment advisors and dually registered advisors (RIAs/broker-dealer-affiliated registered reps) rose in 2013 by a CAGR of 14.5 and 14.4 percent, respectively. These were among the fastest AUM growth rates for the 7 advisory channels surveyed in the study.

“Advisors are drawn to the economic advantages and flexibility inherent in [the RIA and dually registered] models,” the report states. “The RIA and dually registered channels are also the only channels that have experienced positive advisor headcount growth in recent years.

“But much of this expansion results from advisor movement rather than new advisors entering the industry,” the report adds. “Overall, industry headcount shrunk…in 2013.”

The report rejects speculation that fees on managed assets are declining. Rep-as advisor fees ticked up 11 percent between 2008 and 2013. In 2013, annual program fees for portfolio manager reps averaged 1.14 percent, up slightly from 2012.

Among the report’s additional findings:

Most advisors do not expect to change the allocation of their investment products during the next 12 months.

Non-specialists financial intermediaries, which Cerulli labels “dabblers” and non-producers, influence more advisor-sold defined contribution plan assets than do their specialist counterparts.

Single-family offices (SFOs) and multi-family offices (MFOs) pose a “significant challenge” to other advisors competing for the business of high net worth clients.

Managed account program sponsors most often flag outdated technology and under-performing advisors as their greatest concerns.

Independent practices desiring to replenish their ranks must be more “strategic” about recruiting and mentoring junior-level advisors.