A Fidelity Investments poll of broker/dealers and RIA firms found 86% intend to accelerate firm growth and profitability this year by hiring more advisers and brokers, in addition to building new and existing client relationships. Only 2% say eliminating or cutting non-essential costs will be the biggest driver of profitability this year, compared to 27% in 2009.

Still, the financial services sales professionals don’t expect the renewed uptick in business to be easygoing. For 47% of B/Ds and RIAs, client acquisition and retention is the biggest concern for 2010. Sixty-four percent do not expect the S&P 500 to fully recover to its October 2007 high of 1,576 until after 2010.

“After 18 months of cutting costs, broker/dealers and RIAs have clearly shifted their attention to accelerating growth through acquisition,” said Michael R. Durbin, president of Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services. “Not only are firms aggressively recruiting top-producing brokers and advisers, but they are focused on actively wooing affluent investors away from large wirehouse firms, while expanding relationships with existing clients.”

Fidelity and National Financial conducted the poll on April 26-27 at their annual Executive Forum client conference in Naples, Fla., on hand-held Audience Response System devices provided by Turning Technologies.