The Financial Services Institute has accomplished what nobody else in the industry has ever even tried: bringing tens of thousands of independent reps together under the same banner.
A4A readers may well disagree with the FSI's stance on topics ranging from fiduciary duty to who should regulate RIAs.
After all, the group exists to lobby on behalf of independent brokers and advisors with dual RIA/IBD registration. Most of them are not fee-only advisors, and their interests naturally differ from those of fee-only firms.
But their latest press release reveals that they've enrolled a startling 31,500 advisors, which given estimates of about 90,000 independent Series 7 holders in the country would translate into 35% of the target membership base.
(The group claims that its member firms alone represent 180,000 advisors, but they're by no means all traditional IBD reps.)
They did it primarily by courting the firms themselves and getting them to sign up their affiliates. Most recently, they signed a deal with the Cetera IBDs -- FNIC, MFS and PrimeVest -- to bring another 3,500 advisors under their banner.
Last year, the FSI barely had 15,000 members behind it and was largely focused on independent contractor issues. Now they're swinging at the big issues.
Pure RIA firms tend to be a lot smaller, but there are a lot more reps in the channel -- as many as 275,000.
If someone like NAPFA could weld 35% of those advisors into a cohesive lobbying bloc, then maybe the fee-only ethos would have a comparable voice in Washington.
The genius of the FSI is that it thought to bridge the gulf that traditionally separates isolated IBDs and offered them a mutually beneficial goal to work toward.
Fee-only advisors who feel strongly that the current regulatory system is best for their clients and for the retail investor in general could definitely take a page from that book.
About Cetera Financial Group: Cetera Financial Group is the parent company of the nation’s largest privately held family of independent broker-dealers. It provides comprehensive broker-dealer services, competitive advisory programs, and innovative technology for nearly 5,000 independent financial professionals and more than 700 financial institutions and their investor clients, nationwide. Through its three distinct broker-dealer platforms, Financial Network Investment Corporation, Multi-Financial Securities Corporation and PrimeVest Financial Services Inc., Cetera combines the benefits of efficiency and ongoing investment provided by a large broker-dealer with the relationship focus and customized solutions of a smaller firm. Based in Los Angeles, Cetera is committed to helping advisors grow their business and strengthen their relationships with clients. For more information, visit www.cetera.com