About three-quarters of advisors at financial firms anticipate a continued rise in the number of peers making the leap to independence, according to a survey by Charles Schwab.

The survey of more than 200 advisors working at major financial firms showed that the shift to independence “isn’t a pass

ing fad,” says Tim Oden, senior managing director of business development at Schwab Advisor Services.

A lot of the results from the survey “confirmed what we see here on a day to day basis,” according to Oden, whose work involves finding ways to grow the independent channel. “It was nice because it points to the fact that what we hear from people in the recruiting process is similar to what people are thinking about before the recruiting process.”

There was some difference in reactions between younger and older advisors — 65% of advisors younger than 40 said they found the RIA model appealing, versus 43% of advisors 40 and older.

One question these results raise immediately concerns “who will be in the wirehouses to take over” when it’s time for succession, Oden says. Maybe the younger advisors will now be fulfilling that succession planning role for older RIAs, in which case “it will be interesting to see how the wirehouses try to retain” the younger talent, he says.

The top three reasons given by advisors who found becoming an RIA appealing were the potential for a larger income (56%), the freedom that comes with running their own business (52%) and the ability to prioritize client needs and customize client service and communications (51%).

Those answers address “the flexibility and freedom that the independent model provides that the wirehouse or banking model may not,” Oden says. Younger advisors may be more comfortable with social media, for example, and more used to communicating with everyone, including clients, that way. But expanding social media use can be tough for brokerage firms and wirehouses, he says. “They’re slower to move. In the independent space I think there’s an opportunity for that to be easier.”

Koski Research conducted the survey for Schwab in December. Advisors surveyed had more than $10 million in assets. Schwab Advisor Services has set up a web site for advisors considering a shift to the independent model that features case studies of advisors who made the leap.

--Danielle Reed writes for Financial Planning.

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