Tough questions for IBDs

IBD Elite 2020-Financial Planning-Financial Planning magazine
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After fielding our IBD Elite ranking for the 35th year, it may seem a bit odd to ask now: What is an IBD? But independent broker-dealers are facing new pressures and challenges that pose existential threats to their business model.

Competition from the RIA channel is undercutting margins and slowing firm growth. Consolidation is dramatically reshaping the industry. And now the coronavirus is altering firms’ supply chains, corporate real estate, artificial intelligence and the client experience.

In his feature, “With wealth management confronting change, what is an IBD?”, Senior Editor Tobias Salinger examines these and other pressures on IBDs. He paints a compelling picture of where these firms can grow — and what will happen if they do not.

In a first for our IBD Elite survey (formerly known as The FP50), Financial Planning this year included a question on racial diversity. Among other goals, we wanted to see whether industry diversity programs have achieved their stated ambitions.

The results? “Mostly nonexistent,” Senior Editor Tobias Salinger tells me. Only three firms disclosed those statistics — The Investment Center, American Portfolios Financial Services and Equitable Advisors.

It was a disappointing response rate amid the backdrop of protests and rallies in June that called for an end to systemic racism following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police.

As the demonstrations grew, companies in many sectors publicly stated their support for the Black Lives Matter movement — and were then challenged with questions about the diversity of their boards and upper management ranks.

Next year we will again include questions about the percentage of producing reps of color. I invite IBD Elite firms to share this information as a way of marking change and spurring continued conversations.

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IBD Elite Broker dealers Diversity and equality