TD Ameritrade Institutional says that it has helped more than 1,000 advisors become RIAs since 2010, more than any other custodian.

One key, according to Pete Dorsey, managing director of sales at TDAI, has been his firm’s success in dispelling myths about going independent. “Once we bring clarity to those myths,” he said, “advisors feel more confident about working with us.”

The No. 1 myth, Dorsey said, results from some “brainwashing” of advisors in a captive environment. “Advisors have been told that it’s the name of the firm on the business card that’s important to clients,” he said, “so their clients won’t follow them if they go independent. We have found that it’s the advisor-client relationship that’s important, not necessarily the name of the firm. In many cases, advisors at major firms are being pulled by their clients to explore other options.”

If that’s the top myth discouraging advisors from breaking away, how does TDAI overcome its impact? “With testimonials,” Dorsey said. “We encourage advisors to do their due diligence, asking other advisors who have gone independent about their experience.” Dorsey said that advisors who recently have been attracted to TDAI are just about “waving the pom-poms,” assuring others that clients will follow them if they go independent.

Another myth, Dorsey said, is that advisors need a minimum amount of assets under management in order to become an independent RIA. “That’s really not the case,” he explained. “We have worked with advisors who have small, mid-sized, and large practices.”

Advisors with a modest amount of assets under managemetn may become “tuck-ins,” Dorsey said. “They can join an existing firm, which already has an infrastructure in place. We have seen an increase in this type of move recently.” TDAI has an “RIAConnect” program in place, designed to help interested advisors find a suitable firm.

Dorsey said advisors choosing to work with TDAI come largely from wirehouses, which have been reducing payments to some advisors. “We also are attracting advisors from regional firms,” he said. “Recently, we’ve seen people moving from the independent broker-deal channel as well.” Relatively few come from insurance companies.

“Among other trends,” Dorsey said, “we have seen increases in Generation X and Generation Y advisors, as well as in women advisors. They have filled a gap--throughout the industry, advisors are mainly male, with a median age in their mid-50s. These non-traditional advisors may have complementary skill sets, such as using social media to build their practice.”

Members of Generations X and Y are now 46 and younger. If such relatively young advisors go independent and prosper, they may offer attractive exit strategies to their senior colleagues.

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