In response to investors’ interest in taking a comprehensive approach to their finances, financial advisers are moving even more broadly away from commissions to fees, and this is boosting their earnings by roughly 10%, the College for Financial Planning Annual Survey found in a survey of 390 advisers. Cerulli Associates assisted in the polling.

Advisers are on track to earn an average of $215,345 this year, roughly 10% more than $195,394 in 2008. While this is down from the $283,079 they earned in 2007 and the $232,996 in 2006, the 2009 findings are remarkable, given the market conditions.

Thus, the survey found that financial advisers are making more money, seeking more education, providing more holistic advice to clients and focusing on better customer service than a year ago.

“As people watch their retirement savings or child’s college fund shrink, they are increasingly asking advisers for solutions to help live their lives, rather than simply grow their stock investments,” said Bing Waldert, director of Cerulli. “That requires a more comprehensive approach with a greater emphasis on customer service and better training.”

Thirty-six percent of advisers are providing clients comprehensive written plans, and an additional 46% provide clients with plans that are both written and unwritten.

In addition, 49% of advisers listed education as a key driver of success, up from 38% in 2008. Twenty-six percent of the advisers surveyed are fee-only, and 30% receive at least half of their revenue from fees.

The advisers said they are recommending record amounts of money market funds and cash but do expect to move more of their clients’ portfolios over to equity mutual funds and exchange-traded funds in the coming months.

“We see a lot of reason to be optimistic in these survey results,” said John Sears, president of the college. “Our industry continues to mature and adapt to people’s needs. Advisers are getting away from a sales-based model and adopting a broader approach, and they are recognizing the value of education in making that transition.”

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