RIAs Continue to Pull in Clients, Show Optimism for Economic Recovery

Most (68%) registered investment advisers (RIAs) said they have increased the number of clients over the last six months, up 13% over the previous quarter, according to a poll by TD AMERITRADE Institutional.

The quarterly survey also found RIAs continue to win business from traditional full-commission firms and broker/dealers at steady rate, with 61% of new business originating from these competitors, up 22% over the previous year.

The increased business is leading to increased spending on their practices. The number of RIAs increasing salaries and bonuses has nearly doubled over the past six months, from 20% to 39%, according to the survey. RIAs are also increasing spending on employee benefits (up 50%), professional development and training (up 32%), technology (up 17%), and staffing (up 16%).

The number of surveyed advisers decreasing business spending is down 40% over the last six months. The large majority (83%) of RIAs said they avoided cost cutting over the past six months.

Advisers who increased business spending increased spending an average of 22% and overwhelmingly chose to invest in technology and marketing, according to the survey. Advisers who decreased business spending trimmed an average of 25% of total expenses—mainly cutting travel, marketing, salaries, and bonuses.

RIAs are increasingly positive in their outlook for the economy, with more than half (about 53%) indicating optimism, up 40% from the previous year.

Despite the market volatility over the past several years, RIAs remain steady and bullish in their long-term approach to investment management, with a 50% allocation to equities, up 2-percentage points from the previous quarter and up 3-percentage points from the prior year. The survey indicated advisers are moving out of cash as allocations are down 6-percentage points from 15% to 9% from the previous quarter. Fixed-income (26%) and international investment allocations (12%) remained steady from the previous quarter.

The survey of 500 RIAs who custody with TD AMERITRADE and elsewhere in the U.S. was conducted by Maritz, Inc. in April. The full report is available at www.amtd.com/news/research.cfm.