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15 Trends Shaping the Advisory Industry
What's next for financial advisors? How will wirehouses, banks and RIAs continue to evolve in the coming year? Tiburon's Chip Roame explains 15 key trends that every advisor must keep an eye on.


by Lee Conrad, Mason Braswell, Charles Paikert, Paula Vasan and Teck Lim
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1. Financial Advisor Channels Dominate
Advisors may have a less-than-dynamic track record versus the direct channel in terms of investment performance, but it is still where most of the growth will occur. Attendees of Tiburon’s CEO Summit thought the advisor channel would see 56% of the overall growth over the next five years. “Self-serve channels” are expected to capture 28% of that growth, according to Roame.
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2. Financial Advisor Models Multiplying
Advisors have more options in choosing how they want to run their business whether they want to be part of an independent, captive, hybrid model, etc. Roame pointed to Raymond James and LPL as two firms who have widened the swath of options available. For the home office, “It’s all about economics,” Roame said. “I’ll work with any advisor any way they want to work with me as long as I make about the same profit margin.”
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3. Independent Advisors Taking Share (Slowly)
The breakaway broker story has been overblown by much of the media, according to Roame, but the independent channel has indeed seen some growth in headcount at the expense of wirehouses and regionals. It now has 45% of the advisors, up from 30% in 2005. But in terms of assets under administration, it has made less headway, with 34% of the assets under administration, up from 30% in 2007.
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4. Wirehouse Broker Productivity Remains Impressive
Wirehouses continue to dominate in assets under management. Their $92.6 million per advisor far outpaces regionals ($54.9 million), fee-based advisors ($49.3 million) and bank advisors ($28.1 million)
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5. Breakaway Broker Trend Motoring Along (Slowly)
Breakaway brokers regained some momentum last year with $92.9 billion in assets under management in play. But that’s still a pittance of a loss for the wirehouses, Roame said.
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6. Custodians Continue to Impress (Including Second-Tier Players)
Roame thinks of Schwab, Fidelity and Pershing in in the first-tier of custodian, but he said that there is a strong second tier of smaller firms such as Scottrade and Trade-PMR, which are also showing strong performance. “[There are] lots of players in the custodian market,” he said. “Almost all of them are doing well.”
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7. Scale Models Emerging
A proliferation of new advisory models are beginning to rise and gain momentum. Firms such as United Capital Financial Partners and The Edelman Financial Group are taking advantage of their size and scale to gain a larger footprint.
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8. Target Market Models Succeeding
In addition to scale model, companies like Lenox Wealth Management, Hanson & McClain, and Regent Atlantic Capital are gathering assets by targeting specific markets.
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9. Independent Broker-Dealers Repositioning
Independent broker-dealers are diversifying their business model and repositioning themselves as custodians, TAMPs, and/or producer groups.
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10. Discount Brokers Turn to New Revenue Models
Discount brokers are doing well by turning to new models and do not just depend on success from the RIA channel, Roame said. “Retail direct is out-growing the advisor business,” he said. “Take Schwab or Fidelity or anyone, their direct business is going great.”
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11. Financial Advisor and Self-Serve Channels Emerging as Places for Private Equity Bets
“Private equity continues to bet on independent financial advisor distribution,” Roame said, citing firms like independent broker-dealers LPL Financial and Cetera Financial Group and RIAs such as The Edelman Financial Group and United Capital Financial Partners.


The self-serve channel is a “wild card,” Roame said, and a “huge potential revolution in the works.”
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12. Fee-Accounts Flow Shifting
The total fee-accounts market, including packaged programs and RIAs, has reached $5.5 trillion. Packaged fee-accounts gathered more net flows ($252 billion) than either ETFs ($187 billion) or mutual funds ($186 billion).
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13. Digital Marketing Critical
To keep up with the competition, advisors need to learn and understand new marketing concepts. This includes SEO, blogging, social media, and email marketing. Digital marketing is NOW a rival to traditional marketing efforts, Roame said.
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14. Womens Issues Garner Attention (Finally)
For advisors, women's issues are gaining attention. Roame said that women live longer, work less, and are more risk-averse.
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15. The Gen X, Gen Y Opportunity
The real wealth transfer boom begins in 2026 when Baby Boomers start moving $2.5 trillion every five years. The Greatest Generation is not really transferring wealth to their Boomer children, instead they arre spending it on healthcare.