It's hard to know exactly when it's coming, but every rally takes a pause. As we put the finishing touches on last year's FP50 issue, I wrote in this column that "the law of large numbers doesn't seem to apply" to the growth of the nation's independent broker-dealers. This year, in our 28th annual ranking, it seems the B-D rally has taken a pause.

A pause from aggressive growth, that is - the industry is still growing. Median revenue growth for the FP50 clocked in at 4.7%, which seems a lot more sustainable than the China-like B-D revenue growth rate of 11.9% the year before (and 13.2% the year before that). The secular trends driving industry growth remain in place, so the most compelling angle is who will likely be the biggest winners in the year ahead and the years to come.

We've included two new charts this year, depicting the top 10 firms by revenues when networks are included, as well as advisor headcount broken down by gender among the top 10. We anticipate both will kickstart some conversations.

If you're hoping to identify key industry trends and the firms driving them, you're unlikely to be disappointed. While it may be no big surprise that LPL Financial again sits atop the FP50 revenue list, there were some unexpected names in our Top 10 Lists page for percentage revenue growth, payout growth, high-end reps and fee-based mix.


A Planner's Voice

One of the more popular features in Financial Planning is our regular profile of an advisor's practice. That makes great sense to me —  there are plentiful opportunities to learn from the successes and setbacks of others. To give this feature additional depth, we turned to a writer who had exceptional credentials for the assignment: Jim Grote, CFP.

As a planner, Jim had lived many of the experiences of his subjects, giving his stories the nuance less capable writers might have missed. As a part-time journalist, Jim relished the professional joy of uncovering a great story and working with editors to polish his prose. When he came to visit to us in New York on a trip from Louisville, he couldn't hide his excitement when he stepped into a newsroom.

Jim Grote was just 59 when he died April 30. A post on says Jim's "advocacy and thoughful gifts of wisdom and humor made tremendous differences in Louisville." In the world of financial planning, too.

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