Last year was a record year for breakaway brokers and this year could be even stronger, according to an executive at Fidelity Investments.

The Boston fund company announced Tuesday that it helped a record 191 broker teams go independent last year.

The brokers Fidelity helped transition to independence either started their own registered investment advisor firm, joined an existing RIA firm on Fidelity’s platform or joined a broker/dealer client of National Financial, Fidelity’s clearing arm.

 “While brokers have been going independent for years, 2009 will likely be looked upon as a watershed year for movement,” said Michael Durbin, the president of Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services, in a press release. “With the current market situation, we expect there to be even more movement in 2010.”

Durbin said, to help brokers that are considering becoming independent, Fidelity “will continue to invest in the resources they need to evaluate their options and make a smooth transition for themselves and their clients.”

Fidelity has long been recognized as a leading provider for brokers seeking independence. The company’s Transition Solutions program offers a comprehensive suite of resources, including an array of consultation services to help brokers establishing an independent RIA.

Fidelity isn’t alone. Other companies, including TD Ameritrade, are working to help brokers transition to an independent RIA. In April, TD Ameritrade introduced its AdvisorLink program, which is designed to help advisors looking to buy, sell or merge their practices.

Fred Tomczyk, TD Ameritrade’s chief executive officer, said Tuesday on the company’s earnings call that the breakaway broker market has been “very active” for the company in December and January.

He said he expects more brokers to breakaway and move into the independent channel this year because “now that things have stabilized and the worst of the recession is behind us” advisors can begin to consider other alternatives.

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