The hints have been there for a while, but Financial Planning’s 32nd annual FP50 ranking of independent broker-dealers reveals what appears to be a solid trend: An industrywide shift to fee-based service, in which IBDs increasingly resemble RIAs.

“The revenue figures among the top 50 IBD’s reveal the evolution,” Craig Israelsen tells me. Israelsen, a professor of financial planning at Utah Valley University and a longtime Financial Planning contributing writer, has analyzed the rankings for nearly two decades. “Fee revenue may surpass commission revenue when we do the survey next year.”

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