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Nearly 1 in 4 Advisors Switched Firms in Last 5 Years: Fidelity

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How many advisors are thinking about and making moves to jump ship? According to the latest Fidelity study, 56% have considered or made the switch to other firms over the past five years.

When it comes to those who go through the transition, nearly one of four, or 23%, made a move. Plus, almost all of those who switched, 92%, are pleased with their decisions, the research reveals.

RIAs and independent broker-dealers are the top destinations — with 64% of movers choosing one of these two channels, up from 50% in 2015 and 40% in 2012.

“Historically, advisors looked at a number of benefits for themselves and the value for clients, but there are also the emotional benefits. We saw a high percentage [of 85%] identify emotional benefits to switching, like being more confident in the future of their business — and that speaks to their entrepreneurial vision and how they feel they can best realize that in their new situations,”  said Tricia Haskins, vice president, practice management & consulting, Fidelity Clearing & Custody Solutions, in an interview.

Among the push factors for advisors considering a move are wirehouse scandals and the related bad press, as well as negative view about the wirehouses concerning both pressure to sell certain products and incentives not being aligned with client needs.

“The fact that 23% of advisors — or about one-quarter — have moved in the past five years is significant, and 34% have seriously been thinking about it,” explained Charlie Phelan, vice president, practice management & consulting, Fidelity Clearing & Custody Solutions.

“This is what makes the research so interesting. There is a tremendous opportunity for firms looking to recruit these advisors,” Phelan added.

In addition, the Fidelity study finds that 80% of movers are going to established firms rather than starting their own firm or joining a startup vs. 67% in 2012.

More Findings

Regulatory uncertainty tied to the Labor Department’s fiduciary rule is cited as an important point of consideration by almost a quarter, or 24%, of advisors who moved and by nearly half, or 47%, of advisors who’ve seriously considered or are still considering a switch.

In 2012, just 20% of those considering a move indicated that the Labor rule played a significant role in their decision.

As for the recent decision of some large wirehouse firms — Morgan Stanley and UBS — to leave the Protocol for Broker Recruiting, most advisors who moved or are thinking about it say it should have only a moderate or no impact on their decision.

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