Given the fact that there are over 3,700 securities firms registered with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, this category is a tough one to compete in for votes. All four leaders in this group made last year’s IA25 list — a strong indication of their solid support.
Garnering the most votes is Cambridge Investment Research President & CEO Amy Webber, a FINRA board member. Cambridge, a privately held firm in Fairfield, Iowa, works with about 3,300 independent advisors.
“As we went from a $100 million in revenue to $200 million to just under $1 billion, [we found that] the problems become different when you are committed to protecting private control and therefore the strategies become different,” Webber said last fall. “It requires intentional, thoughtful focus.”
The number of broker-dealers keeps shrinking — by about 100 per year, and “the trend of consolidation will continue,” she explained. “There are a significant number of small and midsize … firms that … don’t have the investments and the resources they need to put into technology and compliance. That’s not going to go away.”
Cambridge recently began working with the networking group W Source to boost the numbers of women in the advice industry. In terms of its own leadership, the broker-dealer says 56% of its assistant vice presidents of women, 50% of its vice presidents, 30% of its senior executives and 26% of its FINRA-licensed advisors.
Valerie Brown, executive chairman of Advisor Group and a board member of the Financial Services Institute, supports the efforts of about 7,000 indie advisors with FSC Securities Corporation, Royal Alliance Associates, SagePoint Financial and Woodbury Financial, which just added more than 400 advisors from Questar Capital and Questar Asset Management.
Advisor Group — which Centerbridge Partners is reportedly trying to buy for $2 billion — formed a relationship with W Source about a year ago. “When we learned about The W Source, we knew it was a perfect complement to our existing programs,” according to Brown. “By providing playbooks, coaching support and more, the W Source is a unique program designed to make it easy for women advisors to establish their own local professional networking groups.”
According to Cerulli Associates, the share of female advisors is about 16%. The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association says about 19% of all advisors are women. The number of female Certified Financial Planners now tops 19,265, representing 23% of all CFPs.