Among advisors, the 'migration' continues. 

Assets managed by dually registered advisors are growing faster than any other channel -- underscoring the industry's "slow but steady migration" toward independent models, according to research released Friday by Cerulli Associates.

The dually registered channel, which includes advisors who operate their own registered investment advisor (RIA) practice while also affiliating with an independent broker-dealer, saw a 21.5% rise in assets during the course of 2012 and surpassed $1 trillion for the first time, according to the study. This compares to a growth in assets of 12.5% for the wirehouse channel, 11.5% for RIAs, 8% for regional broker-dealers and 3.1% for independent broker-dealers.

"This is a continuation of a trend we have been seeing for a few years now," says Cerulli analyst Bing Waldert. "We are seeing movement toward the independent business model."

Dually registered RIA assets also grew 7.2% from 2007 through 2012 despite a large drop following the 2008 financial crisis.

Waldert attributes a large part of the momentum for the dually registered RIA channel to many advisors’ desire for independence but also their reluctance to completely leave behind a broker-dealer affiliation because of legacy assets and certain products offered solely through commission-based platforms. He adds that many newer firms like Dynasty Financial Partners, Hightower Advisors and SeaCrest Wealth Management are embracing the dual approach and thus providing planners the infrastructure to have the best of both worlds.

"The concept of an independent advisor is real now," says Waldert. "They aren't in the wild, wild west anymore. This is a very credible business model now."

Even so, the wirehouse channel still controls the largest portion of the advisory industry at $5.3 trillion assets, but saw a 0.4% drop from 2007 to 2012.

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