TD Ameritrade Institutional announced Monday it drew a record 441 breakaway brokers to its platform for independent registered investment advisors in fiscal 2012, a 27% increase from a year earlier.

“TD Ameritrade Institutional is one of the most experienced custodians in helping advisors make the move to independence,” said Tom Nally, the president of TD Ameritrade Institutional. “We’ve made the goal of becoming an RIA more attainable through a clear, step-by-step, guided approach that can help take the guesswork out of the process.”

Through a strategic, step-by-step approach, advisors can work with TD Ameritrade to transition their book of business. Jersey City, N.J.-based TD Ameritrade has  helped more than 1,000 advisors become RIAs since 2010, more than any other custodian.

“There’s more support than ever before for breakaway brokers who want to experience the benefits of the independent advice model,” Nally said. “They no longer have to deal with conflicts regarding what is good for the employer, as opposed to what is good for their clients. We’ve dispelled the myth that going independent means going it alone.”

He added, “The RIA industry has matured and there are more choices and flexibility available to RIAs as an increasing number of technology and service providers focus their attention on the growing independent advice channel.”

TD Ameritrade Institutional’s Bridge to Independence program was designed to help advisors start their own RIA firm, join an established RIA or operate as a hybrid advisor.

Scott Stauffer, a former wirehouse broker, recently made the decision to become an RIA. Stauffer chose to join California-based Wealth Design, LLC, an established RIA firm. He said he wanted the freedom of becoming an independent advisor, but wasn’t interested in the operational side of running a practice.

“Not only did TD Ameritrade Institutional provide a clear roadmap, but the transition team was a sounding board throughout the process,” Stauffer said. “Any issues or questions were quickly addressed which eliminated concerns and gave me the confidence that my business and my clients were in good hands.”

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