Registered investment advisors’ (RIAs) assets under management rose 28% to an average of $174 million in 2009, up from $136 million in 2008, the 2010 Rydex/SGI AdvisorBenchmarking Annual Study shows. This was the biggest percentage increase in the survey’s 11-year history.

Growth in AUM is the No. 1 goal for 53% of the RIAs surveyed, and that group appears optimistic, indeed, for 42% of those surveyed expect their AUM to grow between 11% and 50% over the next five years. For 79%, growth is expected to be driven by referrals.

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