Advisers are showing signs of optimism after months of market doldrums, according to a new survey by broker/dealer Securities America of 180 of its top producers.

When asked whether their strategy was to hunker down and ride out the recession or grow out of it, an overwhelming 82% of these advisers, all of whom produce over $500,000 per year, plan to do the latter, primarily through new client acquisition. More than half of advisors expect their revenue to either stabilize or grow this year.

Some 86% of advisers say they have added former wirehouse and big bank brokerage clients to their books, two-thirds of the time merely because those clients’ former advisers had failed to provide either the attention or service level they expected.

Advisers expect to spend money on efforts to recruit these clients, including seminars and marketing to their existing clients to generate referrals. Some are even splashing out on PR firms to boost their visibility in their communities, but Paul Lofties, 1st vice president at Securities America in Omaha, Neb., advocates tried and true growth strategies. “We think the best strategy is to grow through referrals,” he said, “so we’re making sure our advisors host a lot of client meetings now, including group events like town-hall meetings and others where clients are encouraged to bring their friends. This strategy continues to be very effective in this market.”

Frugality is also part of the plan for more than half of respondents, who are looking to reduce spending by renting cheaper offices, cutting down on travel and entertainment and relying more on free wholesaler support. But Lofties said the wider message is that out of every disruption comes opportunity. “Things aren’t magically going to happen by themselves, so if you want things to improve you have to take advantage of every opportunity,” he says. “A lot of it is attitude—this is the greatest opportunity most advisors will ever see in their practices because so many investors are in transition.”

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