Slide 1 of 27
Independent broker-dealers have turned the corner after two straight years of shrinking returns, and the largest firms are leading the way.

The firms analyzed in Financial Planning’s 33rd annual FP50 produced combined revenue of $25.7 billion in 2017, an increase of nearly 9% over the previous year and the best results since 2014. However, the positive returns also mean a more competitive fight at the top.

Cambridge Investment Research, Northwestern Mutual, MML Investors Services, Commonwealth Financial Network and Raymond James Financial Services generated double-digit rises in their annual revenue. Meanwhile, Ameriprise is closing in on LPL Financial.

MML Investors, a subsidiary of MassMutual, stands out as the firm with the most eye-popping expansion on the strength of MassMutual’s $165 million acquisition of MetLife’s U.S. retail advisor unit. The firm’s revenue soared last year after the formal addition of assets and advisors from the 2016 deal.

A total of 13 of the 25 largest firms produced double-digit revenue growth, but two out of their ranks had slight decreases last year. Another firm fell out of the top 10 despite a 6% hike in revenue.

The elite group of eight firms and networks with more than $1 billion in business gained a new member last year as well. Of the networks, Advisor Group boasts four firms in the top 25, Cetera Financial Group has three and Ladenburg Thalmann has one.

Financial Planning relies on firms to ensure the accuracy of the data they submit each year as part of the FP50 and works to verify the information when possible. Some firms did not respond in time to requests for information.

The rankings for the previous year do not always match the FP50 2017 survey because some firms restated their figures. LPL’s acquisition of the assets of National Planning Holdings also eliminated previous members of the FP50. As a result, the rankings for the previous year have changed slightly.

To view how the largest firms now stack up against one another, click through our slideshow. For a full recap of the year in the IBD space, see FP50 2018: Independent broker-dealers adapt to survive. To check last year’s list of the firms with the highest revenue, click here.


next