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Brokers More Inclined to Join Independent Firms, Fidelity Says

Financial advisers increasingly see moving to an independent firm or working for themselves as “attractive” options, according to a survey by Fidelity Investments.

About 56 percent of 1,046 respondents said the independent model holds more appeal in the current economic environment, the Boston-based firm said today in a statement announcing the results of the survey. The brokers cited costs of dealing with new regulations as the top reason for shunning independence.

“It offers the opportunity to keep a lot more of your revenue when you’re at an independent firm” or a registered independent adviser, Sanjiv Mirchandani, president of Fidelity subsidiary National Financial, said in an interview yesterday. “The biggest thing that gives people some pause is the daunting nature of what’s in front of us as all these rules get written and rolled out.”

Registered independent advisers, or RIAs, were the fastest-growing segment of the broker market from 2007 through 2009, according to data from Boston-based research firm Cerulli Associates. Sallie Krawcheck, head of Bank of America Corp.’s wealth management unit, said last month that her firm lost 36 advisers to independents in 2010, and she hadn’t seen evidence of a “massive shift” that she said many people predicted.

Financial advisers that responded to the Fidelity survey indicated that they planned to retire at the average age of 68. Almost 20 percent said they expect to retire at 71 or later, according to the survey. The average age for advisers is 49, Fidelity said.

‘Huge Number’

“Some people feared that a huge number of experienced brokers would be leaving the industry due to retirement in the next 10 years, and that may still be true to some extent, but perhaps less so given the intention to work longer,” Mirchandani said.

The online survey was conducted in late 2010 by Northstar Research Partners, which received responses from brokers at so-called wirehouse firms, regional and independent brokerages, and RIAs, Fidelity said in the statement.

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