TD Ameritrade Institutional's Aggressive Recruiting

TD Ameritrade Institutional drew a record 441 breakaway brokers to its platform for independent RIAs in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, a 27% increase from a year earlier. The company said it has helped more than 1,000 advisors become RIAs since 2010, more than any other custodian.

"There's more support than ever before for breakaway brokers who want to experience the benefits of the independent advice model," said Tom Nally, president of TD Ameritrade Institutional. "They no longer have to deal with conflicts regarding what is good for the employer, as opposed to what is good for their clients."

Pete Dorsey, managing director of sales at TDAI, said advisors choosing to work with the firm come largely from wirehouses, which have been reducing payments to some advisors. "We also are attracting advisors from regional firms," he said. "Recently, we've seen people moving from the independent broker-deal channel as well." Relatively few come from insurance companies.

Small RIAs Move to State Regulation

The regulatory overhaul put in place by the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 has dramatically reshaped the compliance landscape for investment advisors, according to a new survey of advisors jointly conducted by the trade group Investment Advisers Association and the National Regulatory Service.

More small firms are moving to oversight at the state level, the study found, while many large, private fund advisors now find themselves under the purview of the SEC.

The study identified a substantial net drop in the number of firms the SEC oversees, primarily attributed to provisions of the financial reform law. For instance, the Dodd-Frank Act upped the maximum threshold for state-level regulation to $100 million in assets under management from $25 million, resulting in roughly 2,400 firms that had been overseen by the SEC registering with the relevant state authorities.

At the same time, the law expanded the SEC's authority to include certain types of private fund advisors, a change that resulted in more than 1,500 advisory firms registering for the first time with the SEC, according to the study.


Rosier View for Affluent Investors

Many affluent investors have recovered from the fallout of the financial crisis in a big way, according to a new survey from PNC Wealth Management.

More than half of the respondents (52%) report that their net worth has grown at least 20% since 2007, and 73% believe they have "a lot of control over their financial future," the firm's seventh annual Wealth and Values Survey found.

Given their changed fortunes, it's not surprising that the nation's affluent investors - those with more than $500,000 in investable assets - are feeling better about their investment prospects and the U.S. economy, despite continuing worries about the global economic state of affairs.

The survey polled 1,115 adults nationwide who were 18 or older and had more than $500,000 in investable assets and a minimum annual income of $150,000.

FINRA Exec Lists Examiners' Priorities

Now is not the time for broker-dealers to be cutting compliance budgets, a FINRA executive warned. Revised examination procedures and new concerns about complex products and conflicts of interest are high on the group's list of priorities, said FINRA executive VP Susan Axelrod.

Among the areas Axelrod highlighted were complex products and new suitability rules. She said FINRA examiners are focusing on "principal-protected notes, non-traded REITs, reverse-convertible notes, structured notes, and leveraged and inverse ETFs," among other things.

She also cited recent sanctions for firms that recommended these complex products to relatively unsophisticated or risk-averse investors.

Biggest Worry for Older Clients

More seniors (61%) are concerned about Medicare than about any other financial issue, according to a recent survey - topping even the 52% who worry about having enough money to enjoy retirement.

Other issues of concern include: paying for long-term care (43%), paying for health care (41%), and outliving their money (38%), according to Allsup, a Belleville, Illinois-based provider of Social Security disability, Medicare and Medicare secondary payer compliance services.

"I don't think it's a big surprise," said Mary Dale Walters, senior vice president at Allsup Medicare Advisor. "They may see ensuring Medicare's future as critical in making sure they have enough money to enjoy retirement."