Although independent registered investment advisors are optimistic about the future of their businesses and the stock market, they are worried about the time and money associated with pending regulatory changes, according to a new survey released on Monday by TD Ameritrade Institutional, a division of TD Ameritrade.

TD Ameritrade Institutional’s quarterly survey of 500 RIAs shows that 70% of RIAs surveyed responded that their firms experienced growth in the last six months, up 15% from the previous year. Yet RIAs are taking market share traditional full-commission firms, with 64% of RIAs reporting that the source of their new business is coming from broker/dealers and wirehouses, up 7% from the prior year.

Not only is business picking up for RIAs, but 77% of those surveyed said they are satisfied with their jobs, up 10% from the beginning of the year. Forty-six percent of RIAs say they are optimistic about economy in the next three months, jumping 30% from the previous quarter and 5% from the beginning of the year.

As a result, RIAs are actively investing in their businesses, with 33% of RIAs surveyed reporting that they are increasing spending, especially in marketing and technology, an increase of 74% from a year ago. From 2009 to 2010 the number of RIAs increasing budgets for travel increased 21%, salaries and bonuses increased 8%, employee benefits increased 41%, professional development increased 41%, and staffing increased 59%.

“As we head into the new year, advisors will be looking for clarity on regulatory issues impacting their businesses. The survey clearly shows these unanswered questions are cause for concern,” said Skip Schweiss, managing director, advisor advocacy and industry affairs, TD Ameritrade Institutional, in a statement. “Even though there is lingering uncertainty around regulatory changes, the independent business model is winning in the marketplace and RIAs are at full throttle, increasing spending on staffing, professional development and technology enhancements to take advantage of opportunities to grow their businesses.”

In fact, 59% of RIAs surveyed said their biggest worry with pending regulatory reform is the time and money they will need to dedicate to meet the new compliance requirements. Meanwhile, 15% are concerned regulators may not understand their business and But, 20% of RIAs surveyed don’t have any concerns over pending regulatory reform.

Over 40% of RIAs say they prefer to continue to be regulated by the SEC, with 28% preferring the continued role of the states. Only a very small minority preferred a new or existing Self-Regulatory Organization such as FINRA or the CFP Board of Standards to play a supervisory role, the survey found.




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