First, the bad news. Revenue for the country’s 50 largest independent broker-dealers fell by a greater degree — 2.46% from the prior year — than the 1.38% hit it took at the end of the Great Recession.

That the decline came in a year with strong investment markets is even more striking. However, nestled in the data provided by IBDs and analyzed by Financial Planning for the 32nd annual FP50 is a nearly mirror-perfect cause for optimism. While overall revenue dropped for 75% of the top firms, fee revenue rose for even more of them — 80%.

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