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Consolidation and the Future of BDs: 2017 Broker-Dealers of the Year

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We met with the leaders of the 2017 Broker-Dealers of the Year in Chicago in August to discuss the myriad issues they and their advisors are facing today.

Among those issues is consolidation. This year’s winners anticipate consolidation among broker-dealers will continue dramatically over the next few years.

View the rest of the discussion and all our Broker-Dealer of the Year coverage here.

Ryan Diachok, Geneos Wealth Management: [The industry is] at somewhere now around 3,500, 3,600 brokerdealers. That number will probably be cut into a third over the next five years.

(Related: Under Pressure: The 2017 Broker-Dealer Reference Guide)

Amy Webber, Cambridge Investment Research: I would guess.

John Burmeister, Lion Street Financial: Just a few years it was at 5,000.

Diachok: It’ll be down to 1,500, with 700 to 800 of them being wholesale brokerdealers. There’ll probably be 300 retail brokerdealers.

Webber: A year ago Eric [Schwartz, chairman and former CEO of Cambridge, who stepped down in January] sat in this room and he said the next wave is that the big boys are going to start buying each other, and the insurance companies are going to get out of the brokerdealer business, and those things are starting to happen.

(Related: Kestra to Buy H. Beck, Add 600 Reps & Launch Robo)

Diachok: They’re happening.

Burmeister: They are.

Webber: It’s happening at both ends.

Diachok: It’s happening at both ends, but to your point about the $5 million to $8 million to $10 million BDs, they can’t. They’re spending all their time doing compliance and regulatory items [so] they can’t grow.

Webber: Exactly, and typically the COO is, in fact, still very much involved at that size in client engagement. That’s why they have their own brokerdealer, which does make the economics of the deal a little more difficult for them, right?

Diachok: Sure.

Webber: But as margins continue to compress, they realize that they can grow better if they spend 100% of their time working with clients.

Diachok: Getting back to doing what they do.

— Read Compliance Costs May Be Strangling BDs, Regulators Say on ThinkAdvisor.