The tumultuous environment of the past few years has done little to dampen independent advisory firms' optimism. According to the 2010 RIA Benchmarking Study conducted by Charles Schwab, 84% of participating advisors plan to grow moderately or aggressively over the next five years.

One way a growing number of firms are fueling that growth is by recruiting team members from the stream of wirehouse advisors who have decided to move toward independence but prefer to join an established independent firm instead of starting one from the ground up. In fact, through the end of October 2010, approximately 35% of the advisors who have chosen independence with Schwab Advisor Services joined existing RIA firms.

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