Number of Advisers Becoming RIAs Expected to Rise

A Charles Schwab survey of advisers at major financial firms found that more than three-fourths (76%) of those surveyed expect a continued increase in the number of advisers transitioning to independent registered investment advisers (RIAs).

More than half (51%) say that they find the idea of being an RIA appealing. Younger advisers, in particular, show an interest in independence; 65% of those surveyed who are under age 40 find the idea of becoming an RIA appealing, compared to 43% of those ages 40 and over. 

The top three benefits cited by advisers who find the idea of becoming an RIA appealing include the potential for larger income (56%); the freedom that comes with running their own business (52%); and the ability to place a higher priority on client service and communications (51%).

Eighty-nine percent of those surveyed say that they are more committed to serving their clients than serving their firms. While most advisers view the ability to place a higher priority on client needs and to offer a broader set of investment products and services as potential benefits in joining or starting an independent RIA firm, advisers under 40 are even more likely to see these as benefits.

Perhaps indicating the effect of more years in the business of serving clients, advisers over 40 were more likely than their under-40 peers to believe that clients are more loyal to their adviser than they are to an adviser’s firm, and they were also more likely to think that their clients would follow them if they left to start their own firm.

“The survey results reinforce the client-service orientation of advisers considering independence and the responsibility they feel to meeting their clients’ needs,” said Tim Oden, senior managing director of business development at Schwab Advisor Services. “Also interesting to me is the appeal of the RIA model to advisers under 40, suggesting that the movement to independence isn’t just a flash in the pan; it’s more likely to be a long-term trend.”

Resources for advisers considering a transition to the RIA model 

Schwab Advisor Services launched website content ( that provides detailed information about becoming an RIA to advisers considering the transition to independence. The website features video testimonials and case studies that give viewers first-hand accounts of advisers’ experiences in moving to the RIA model, as well as insight into how they made the transition.

Schwab will also host the Build the Future You Want webcast on March 28 at 1 p.m. PT to help advisers learn more about the independent model, explore their options, and get an assessment of the risks, benefits, and economic potential associated with becoming an RIA.

In addition, the latest Schwab Talk blog post features Tim Oden discussing steps to consider when transitioning to independence. Schwab will also host a Twitter Q&A with Tim Oden to answer questions about making the move to the RIA model. Information on how to submit a question, as well as guidelines for participating, are available on Twitter at @Schwab4RIAs.

Complete survey results are available at

More than 200 financial advisers participated in the survey, conducted by Koski Research from December 3 to 18, 2011. Those surveyed work at major full-service firms and manage a minimum of $10 million in assets. Sixty-four percent of the advisers in the survey have more than 10 years of investment advisory experience.