In the ongoing consolidation of the independent B-D space, insurer AIG's acquisition of Woodbury Financial Services brings the smaller firm in from the cold where it has become increasingly challenging to survive without a larger parent company.

"It's very difficult to operate an independent B-D profitably," says well-known planner and media personality Ric Edelman. Edelman, founder of Edelman Financial Services, sold off his independent B-D arm earlier this year, claiming that the model for the industry was broken for all but he giants. "I can only assume that [Woodbury] is experiencing the same challenges as everybody else."

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