Independence seems to be working well for financial planners.

In a survey of more than 500 registered investment advisors, 73% said they had won more clients in the last six months, reporting a 7% increase from a year earlier. Only 5% of RIAs said they had fewer clients, compared to 8% last year. Most of their new business is coming from traditional full-commission brokerages.

The survey was conducted by telephone between March 21 and April 1 by Maritz, Inc. on behalf of TD Ameritrade Institutional. It included both RIAs who use TD Ameritrade as a custodian and other RIAs.

“The survey shows RIAs’ independent, fee-based and fiduciary approach to wealth management is a key consideration when investors are choosing an advisor,” said Tom Bradley, president, TD Ameritrade Institutional. “RIAs surveyed indicate their new clients prefer the personalized service and competitive fee structure provided by independent advisors and that, as fiduciaries, RIAs are required to offer advice that is in the best interest of clients.”

Other key findings: 53% of RIAs are optimistic about the U.S. economy. RIAs are moving money out of cash, bonds and international investments. They predict that oil and gas, technology and basic materials stocks will do best in the next twelve months, and that  financials, utilities and consumer goods stocks will be less successful.

Most advisors avoided cost-cutting over the last quarter. Those that increased business spending were most likely to spend more on technology