Aug 6 - The number of brokers is shrinking according to a new study- a result of the recent tough times for the brokerage business and a signal of a very different future for the industry.
The baby boomers have been a bust for the brokerage industry- and more and more brokers are calling it quits. The total number of personal financial advisors fell for the third year in a row- down 2.3 percent or 7,000 last year according to Cerulli Associates. Senior Analyst Tyler Cloherty: "Everyone thought all the baby boomers were going to be retiring, there is going to be this big flow of assets that comes out, everyone is going to need advice. People are working longer. Their retirement hasn't been as lucrative." For that- investors have been blaming their advisors- and taking their business elsewhere: "Coming out of the recession it was very much of a fire the incumbent approach- that whoever I was working with didn't work with me or didn't protect me so whether I was with a Morgan Stanley or a Merrill Lynch or whether I was with a Schwab, I am going to switch because whatever I was doing wasn't working." Back in 2007, the armies of brokers at big firms used to control close to half the market in terms of client assets. But their market share has been shrinking- and Cerulli Associates projects it will be down to 34 percent by 2014. A lot of that money is going to Registered Investment Advisors, who offer a more holistic approach to wealth management. Client assets there surged 14 percent last year. "They look at financial planning, estate planning and try to look at the life financial plan rather than just asset appreciation; looking at your market returns. I think coming out of the recession people are no longer as drawn to the big brand names as they were in the past." The ranks of RIA's are projected to rise 5 percent a year through 2016- more proof investors are more willing to buy advice than pay for commissions.
Bobbi Rebell, Reuters.