Analyst insights: the Hybrid RIA market

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1 registered investment ADVISORS 3 The Hybrid marketplace today 3 Closing the gap 4 The best of both worlds 4 Meeting the challenge 5 Roundtable 11 Participants The Hybrid RIA model advisors with dual registration under both FINRA and the SEC is now the fastest growing segment of the financial services industry, according to Cerulli Associates. Affiliating with a broker/dealer and becoming an individual RIA offers the best of both worlds: Advisors enjoy the true independence of running their own fee-based business without foregoing the comforts of home office support or commission-based products, including insurance, annuities, and alternative investments. Analyst insights: the Hybrid RIA market understanding the Hybrid model

2 Contents 3 The Hybrid marketplace today 3 Closing the gap 4 The best of both worlds 4 Meeting the challenge 5 Roundtable 11 Participants 11 Dennis Gallant 12 Daniel C. Inveen 13 Philip K. Palaveev 14 Lisa Roth 15 Bing Waldert 2 UNDERSTANDING THE HYBRID MODEL

3 Registered Investment Advisors The Hybrid marketplace today The Hybrid model offers many benefits, but the practical application of the model has historically been easier said than done. Depending on broker/dealer affiliation, Hybrid advisors have to juggle multiple custodial relationships, multiple trading platforms, and have not one, but two regulators. Ideally, there would be a single platform through which Hybrid RIAs could operate their commission- and fee-based businesses. The following pages address the advantages of this possibility. GROWTH OF HYBRID FIRMS 4,987 Closing the gap For decades, the financial services industry has been divided into two distinct groups: brokers who depended on their commission streams and fee-only advisors who eschewed the sales model. 3,197 4,040 Today, new technology, new products, new regulations, and an evolving demographic are rapidly blurring those once-sharp distinctions. So much so, in fact, that the Hybrid model advisors who are dually registered under both FINRA and the SEC is now the fastest growing segment of the financial services industry. While hard numbers are difficult to pin down because of the sheer number of independent registered investment advisors (RIAs) and licensed brokers, the Hybrid sector is growing by more than 20% a year, according to estimates from Cerulli Associates, a financial services research and consulting firm. In addition, Hybrid advisors control $433 billion in client assets, according to National Regulatory Services (NRS) and Cerulli Associates Source: National Regulatory Services and Cerulli Associates GROWTH OF HYBRID ASSETS (billions) $263B $344B $433B Source: National Regulatory Services and Cerulli Associates 3

4 MEDIAN assets under management and profitability 61.5% 60.5% Gross Profit Hybrid firms RIA-only firms 2007 $152.7 $130.3 Assets under management (in millions) Hybrid firms RIA-only firms Source: Moss Adams 2007 The best of both worlds The attraction is easy to understand. Affiliating with a broker/dealer and becoming an individual RIA offers the best of both worlds. Advisors enjoy the true independence of running their own fee-based businesses without forgoing the comforts of home office support or commission-based products, including insurance, annuities, and alternative investments. As a result, top advisors can improve their businesses running on dual platforms, according to research from consultant Moss Adams. In fiscal year 2007, the median gross profit margin for dually registered firms was 61.5%, compared to 60.5% for RIA-only firms. Median assets under management for Hybrid firms totaled $152.7 million, compared to $130.3 million for RIA-only practices. It s the application that has historically been challenging. Depending on broker/dealer affiliation, Hybrid advisors have multiple custodial relationships, multiple trading platforms, and have not one, but two regulators to manage. Meeting the challenge With the number of dually registered RIA firms nearly doubling between 2004 and 2007, advisors and their affiliated firms are working to get their hands around this booming sector. When the trend started taking off in the late 1990s, most advisors considered the Hybrid model simply a way station, as they transitioned their book from a commission- to fee-based business. Setting up their own RIAs allowed them to start collecting fees, while they kept their broker/dealer affiliations to collect their trails on existing accounts. As soon as their fee-based business reached a critical mass, though, they would shut down the commission side, says Philip Palaveev, president of Fusion Advisor Network. Today, the markets, the products, and the clients themselves have changed. Every broker/dealer offers a wide variety of wrap programs for commission-based brokers, while fee-only advisors are blocked from some of the key products that high net worth clients need, such as alternative investments and insurance products. Meanwhile, as clients become both wealthier and older, they are looking for more than investment advice. They want a quarterback who can manage all of their financial needs, advises Bing Waldert, associate director of Cerulli Associates. The result is that the Hybrid practice is increasingly a destination for advisors looking for ways to provide their clients with the right advice and the right products all in one place. That means that the broker/dealers themselves need to evolve. They need to do more than simply tolerate dually registered advisors, says Dennis Gallant, president of Gallant Distribution Consulting. They need to provide access to multiple custodian relationships to manage their fee-based accounts, technological support to help advisors control their increasingly complicated businesses, and guidance on the compliance end to help dually registered advisors juggle dual regulators. 4 UNDERSTANDING THE HYBRID MODEL

5 Registered Investment Advisors Roundtable To help advisors better understand the Hybrid RIA evolution and the opportunities it may present to their own practices, LPL Financial invited a group of industry leaders to discuss the key issues. In the following pages, Philip Palaveev, Dennis Gallant, Dan Inveen, Bing Waldert, and Lisa Roth offer their perspectives on the challenges and opportunities of the Hybrid RIA marketplace. Participants are neither affiliated with nor endorsed by LPL Financial. See pages for participant biographies. With so many fee-based products and platforms already being widely used in the market today, how does the Hybrid RIA model differ from the traditional brokerage or RIA business? Philip Palaveev: Up until the last six or seven years, the RIA and the independent broker/dealer (IBD) models have existed parallel to each other. They have had some overlap, but despite some similarities in the minds of the broker/dealer and custodian executives, you were an IBD advisor or an RIA. In reality, many were both. Now it s all about affiliation. Affiliation is a term that combines the contractual terms between the advisor and a third party that significantly impacts the practice of the advisor, as well as the relationship between that third party and the advisor. The bottom line is, Who has input into the business of the advisor? At one end of the spectrum is the wirehouse model. All of the wirehouse firms have an employment relationship with their brokers. They tell the advisor how to run the business, what products to sell, what clients to work with, and how much to charge. With an RIA, no one has a strategic level of input into the business. Nobody tells an independent RIA what technology to use, what customers to work with, what products to sell. At the same time, while no one can dictate what an RIA does, many can influence the decisions made most of all the custodians. From a purely business perspective, if advisors had their say, many would actually choose to be affiliated with a broker/dealer and also have an RIA because that structure will offer them the most flexibility in investment choices and selection of technologies, as well as managed account platforms and services to use. It all comes down to whether or not advisors can find the right affiliation partner. Ideally, the dually registered advisor needs a broker/dealer that understands that advisors value the independence the RIA model provides them and respects that independence. In other words, advisors will ideally have a broker/dealer that does what s best for the advisor and is not preoccupied with what s best for the broker/dealer. 5

6 Why is this distinction important, especially to advisors who are in the process of evaluating their own practices? Dennis Gallant: The distinctive difference is that you can conduct fee-based businesses in different ways. The dual registration model has been around for years. It was a step in a career path. You moved to an independent broker/dealer and slowly started moving your business to fee-based, and when you got a critical mass of clients on the fee-based platform, you cut your broker/dealer ties and boom, you became exclusively an RIA. Then everyone started getting into the fee-based business, with wrap programs and other advisory programs, so the marketplace is becoming more diverse in how these practices are being run. Meanwhile, advisors want more control and the ability to tailor their business models. They want the caché of becoming an RIA, and to use it as leverage with the office. At the same time, consumers are looking for consolidation. They want a single advisor, and they want advisors to do more. It s not that an RIA can t provide the full range of services, but being dually registered often offers advisors greater flexibility in serving client needs. Finally, the delivery of advice is changing. Some advisors are establishing their own RIA at their broker/dealer so they can charge planning or retainer fees beyond the limits of the corporate RIA. So the dually registered business isn t just about how to manage money, but how to charge for advice. And it s not just about what platform to use. It s about providing a greater flexibility for your clients while being able to charge for advice. I think the Hybrid model ends up providing a lot of advantages. Historically, dually registered reps were treated as an accommodation and broker/dealers did not focus on how effective their dually registered rep support was. The competition for advisors and focus on retention has changed all that. Broker/dealers are shifting from an accommodation mentality to creating a deliberate dually registered or Hybrid strategy. They are just beginning to ask questions about how to not only support, but also grow this business. 6 UNDERSTANDING THE HYBRID MODEL

7 Registered Investment Advisors The Hybrid model is the fastest growing advisory practice in the industry. What market factors are driving that growth? Dan Inveen: The most obvious factor is that broker/dealer affiliated advisors are using the Hybrid model as a stepping point for transitioning to an independent RIA. Many of these advisors, however, are recognizing that this is a comfortable place to be and continue to maintain a broker/dealer affiliation. Broker/dealers are also increasingly more accommodating and flexible regarding allowing their advisors to maintain their own RIA. Even if commissions make up only a small share of an advisor s business, maintaining broker/dealer affiliation can be helpful from a practice management and development standpoint. A broker/dealer can provide technology, portfolio management, practice management assistance, and other support solutions that an advisor might not have access to otherwise. Our survey data indicate that broker/dealer affiliation is especially valuable for smaller practices that may not have the scale to independently access these resources. In these cases, a broker/dealer can be a big booster for productivity at these firms. The dually registered model is the most prominent among top-performing mature solo firms (established for at least ten years), for example. These firms are three times as likely to be Hybrid relative to their peers. Bing Waldert: Getting their own RIA gives advisors freedom of control to run their business as they see fit. Advisors who are very entrepreneurial will want more control over their business, and our research shows that the advisor who is successful is very entrepreneurial. They don t just want more control. They are willing to accept that control and take on the responsibility for asset selection and managing their own operations. As you see more firms stepping up and showing more neutrality for business models, being dually registered becomes a destination for more advisors. One reason is because there are products, such as variable annuities, that are only available on a commission basis. Another reason is that as advisors get older, they want more fee-based opportunities because the fee-based business will sell at a higher premium when they are ready to retire. 7

8 Compliance is routinely cited as a major drawback for managing a Hybrid business. What are the day-to-day realities that dually registered advisors face? Lisa Roth: Being a broker means that you have to comply within a very distinct line of reporting. Someone is your supervisor, and his or her license is on the hook based on your performance. There is a failure-to-supervise cloud that hangs over this supervisor that is not present in the RIA scenario. Dual registrants are willingly subjecting themselves to this high level of oversight, which an independent RIA simply doesn t have. And the broker/dealers have no choice. That relationship is prescribed by the regulators. That s the price you pay to be a broker. Why do they pay this price? Reasons include retention of hard-earned licenses that will expire in the absence of a broker/dealer affiliation, or revenue streams resulting from commissionable business that cannot be accommodated under an IA-only umbrella. To skirt what is perceived as the heavy hand of their broker/dealer, some independent-minded professionals consider forming their own broker/ dealer, only to learn that the regulatory burden is truly overwhelming. After time and consideration, most professionals conclude that the Hybrid arrangement (the combination of their own independent RIA plus a licensing agreement with a broker/dealer) presents the most workable solution. The Hybrid becomes the best of both worlds because advisors can keep their securities licenses and important commission revenue streams while building equity through running their own businesses. They have the ability to determine which business goes on which platform, and this creates options for the professionals and for their customers. What can independent RIAs expect to commit to in order to meet the SEC compliance demands? Lisa Roth: There are two components to evaluate: cost and time. There are some programs that an RIA can buy that provide an extensive set of tools, including manuals, instructions, and a compliance calendar. But those tools don t do the work. While these tools will help facilitate the compliance needs, the advisors still are responsible for managing their compliance. There is at least a 20% time commitment for the average small firm. If you look at the average advisor with five or fewer employees and $100 million or less under management, that is a quarter of a full-time job delegated just for compliance, although we do have quite a few advisors tell us that doing the tasks takes about one or two days a month, so it really depends on the size of the firm and the type of business you do. 8 UNDERSTANDING THE HYBRID MODEL

9 Registered Investment Advisors What factors should advisors consider to determine if a Hybrid RIA business would be right for them, particularly with regard to: Products Bing Waldert: One key issue is access to alternative investments. IBDs have always been open about providing a wide variety of mutual fund families on their platform, but they are more reluctant to do that with alternative investments, which are less transparent. Dennis Gallant: It s a question of how to provide total service to affluent clients: whether it s being able to offer them insurance products, and use commission-based products to work in a costeffective manner with small or less affluent clients, where fee-based solutions may be too expensive. Client base Philip Palaveev: The advantage of the dual registration shows up at the very low end and at the very high end of the market. If a client needs only one-time advice, he or she is probably better off just paying a fee for that advice. At the high-end of the spectrum, estate planning life insurance is sold on a commission basis. Dennis Gallant: I m not really sure that the end-clients really care whether you are your own RIA, working under a corporate RIA, or dually registered. They are looking for simplicity, trust, and for someone who can provide solutions. What does Independence mean to you? n Will you serve clients better as a registered representative, RIA, or both? n Which model will let you build the independent practice that s best for you? n If you become an RIA, can you retain your commission-based clients? n Will you focus on commissionor fee-based business? n As a registered representative and an RIA, will you have to keep client accounts on two separate platforms? Strategic planning for your practice Philip Palaveev: Let s assume they are currently with a broker/dealer. The first questions to ask are: What do I get from my broker/dealer? Are they an important strategic partner? Are they someone I tolerate because I have to, or are they someone adding value to my practice? Then you have to decide if you are large enough, and entrepreneurial enough, to create all of the infrastructure, do all the vendor screening, and package all the client solutions on your own. If you are producing less than half a million in revenue, the answer is probably no. If you have $500,000 to $1 million in revenue, the answer is still maybe but you may want to outsource some functions. If you are generating $1 million to $3 million in revenue, you have the budget to do it all yourself, but is that what you want to spend your money on? 9

10 a truly integrated ria platform The LPL Financial Registered Investment Advisor platform is a fully integrated platform. We have combined superior commission- and fee-based capabilities into a singular experience that enables advisors and their businesses to evolve seamlessly. LPL Financial has served independent financial advisors for four decades, and every aspect of our business model from investment platforms and technology to back-office support and client services is dedicated to helping financial advisors succeed in building and growing their own independent practice. For more information about LPL Financial and its fully integrated RIA platform, please call us at (888) , or visit Finally, philosophically, do you believe you have to be completely independent, or are you okay having third-party strategic partners? Do you believe that you can find a strategic partner who adds value to your business? If you can t accept the influence of a third party on your business for personal, professional, or strategic reasons, or if you don t think you can find a good strategic partner, I would go all the way to an RIA platform, regardless of revenues or expenses. The Hybrid model is fundamentally based on the premise that you need to do commission business, and you believe that you can find a broker/dealer who can add value to your business. Dennis Gallant: You also need to be thinking about succession planning. Clients planning for retirement are going to be asking you where you are going to be for the next 25 years to help them through their retirement. A lot of advisors set up their own RIA to make it easier to build a team around them. Another issue is that your business is worth more as an RIA because you have control over the custody of the assets, and you have a steady, predictable income stream. Those are issues you really need to think about. Custody Bing Waldert: Advisors doing fee-based business under a corporate RIA will have less control over the custody. If they have their own RIA, they have full control over those assets, including where they are going to custody them. If you custody those assets at your broker/dealer, there is a philosophical difference over who owns those assets. Dennis Gallant: RIAs like to have multiple custodial relationships for a number of reasons. Their clients may have had an existing relationship with a custodian and they don t want the burden of moving the assets to another firm. Having multiple custodian relationships provides RIAs with flexibility. Plus, as fiduciaries, they want to demonstrate best execution by working with a number of custodians and leveraging different custodians based on their individual strengths. 10 UNDERSTANDING THE HYBRID MODEL

11 Registered Investment Advisors Participants Dennis Gallant Gallant Distribution Consulting (GDC) President and Founder Mr. Gallant is president and founder of Gallant Distribution Consulting and an industry expert with nearly 20 years experience providing strategic planning and analysis across the financial services industry. Mr. Gallant s experience is diverse in analyzing trends in the financial services marketplace, providing strategic positioning, reviewing new product and service developments, and supporting business planning services to a wide range of broker/dealers, asset managers, banks, insurance firms, and service vendors. Mr. Gallant speaks regularly at industry conferences and has been quoted in numerous industry publications, including the Wall Street Journal, Investment News, BusinessWeek, Registered Representative, On Wall Street, Financial Planning, and The New York Times. Mr. Gallant is a member of the Retirement Income Industry Association s (RIIA) Research Committee and a member of the Dow Jones Wealth Management Advisory Council. Prior to establishing GDC, Mr. Gallant was a director at Cerulli Associates, leading the firm s consulting and new business development efforts, executing consulting assignments, identifying and developing new business opportunities, and managing key client relationships. Mr. Gallant also established Cerulli s Intermediary Research Group, which was responsible for generating research and key Cerulli Reports covering trends and market intelligence on various financial service intermediaries, advisors, broker/dealers, and asset managers. 11

12 Daniel C. Inveen, CFA Moss Adams Senior Research Manager Dan Inveen is senior research manager of Moss Adams Business Consulting Group and is responsible for market research initiatives in the firm s Securities & Insurance Industry Niche. His focus is on helping financial advisors improve their business management practices as well as helping securities and insurance firms improve their delivery of services to advisors. In addition to overseeing Moss Adams annual advisory firm benchmarking analysis, his recent project experience includes research on advisory firm best practices in human resources, organizational structure, business development, and client servicing. Mr. Inveen has been quoted in industry publications, such as Financial Planning, Investment Advisor, Investment News, Registered Rep, and SmartMoney. Mr. Inveen has assisted businesses with research and strategy development for more than two decades. He joined Moss Adams from Russell Investment Group, where for several years he served as Russell s manager of marketing research. Prior to Russell, he was director and chief economist for the U.S. Virgin Islands Bureau of Economic Research, and an economist with the Washington State Department of Trade & Economic Development. Mr. Inveen holds a BA and an MA in economics from the University of Washington. He earned the Chartered Financial Analyst designation in UNDERSTANDING THE HYBRID MODEL

13 Registered Investment Advisors Philip K. Palaveev Fusion Advisor Network President Philip Palaveev is the president of Fusion Advisor Network a $50 million in revenue franchise network of independent advisors that provides business management and collective bargaining services to its members. As president, Mr. Palaveev is responsible for the firm s strategy and leads its practice management development focusing on helping the 200 advisors grow their businesses. Prior to joining Fusion, Mr. Palaveev was a principal of Moss Adams LLP and led the market research for the firm as well as consulted with broker/dealers and registered financial advisors on issues of strategy, competitive positioning, and financial performance. As head of research, Mr. Palaveev developed the content for a series of reports with a high impact on the advisory industry, including the Moss Adams Financial Performance and Compensation Surveys of Financial Advisors, Financial Services Institute Broker/Dealer Compensation, and financial performance studies and industry reports, such as Real Deals: Definitive Information on M&A of Advisory firms, The Future of Operations, and Dually Registered Firms. His consulting clients included many of the largest custodians, clearing firms, broker/dealers, banks, and CPA firms as well as more than 100 advisory firms. Mr. Palaveev holds an MBA from the Charles H. Lundquist School of Business at the University of Oregon and a BA in economics. 13

14 Lisa Roth Keystone Capital Corporation, CEO Monahan & Roth, LLC, CEO and President Lisa Roth is the CEO of Keystone Capital Corporation, a FINRA-member firm headquartered in San Diego, California, and she is also CEO and President of Monahan & Roth, LLC, a firm providing expert witness and other consulting services to investment and financial companies. Ms. Roth is the founder of ComplianceMAX Financial Corporation, which was acquired by National Regulatory Services in August 2007, where she was responsible for management of consulting services and the technology development. In her capacities at ComplianceMAX and NRS, Ms. Roth provided compliance expertise to regulated firms in the financial and investment services sectors and led the companies Compliance Institute, the primary source of content, audit, and technology strategies. Ms. Roth is currently chairman of the board of the National Association of Independent Broker/Dealers, through which she advocates for small and independent firms. Ms. Roth was appointed to the FINRA Small Firms Advisory Board in Ms. Roth has been a member of the FINRA Board of Arbitrators for more than ten years, and an expert witness in numerous FINRA arbitrations and securities brokerage disputes. Ms. Roth is recognized nationally as an expert in compliance and regulatory matters. She is a frequent speaker at industry events and is sought as an expert, by financial firms of all sizes, on a range of regulatory subjects. Ms. Roth received a BA degree from Moravian College, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and was the recipient of its History Prize in Ms. Roth holds securities registrations with Keystone Capital Corporation as General Securities Registered Representative, General Securities Principal, Sales Supervisor, Licensed Options Principal, Municipal Securities Principal, Investment Adviser (Series 65), and California Securities Agent. Ms. Roth serves as chairman on the board of Responsibility, a nonprofit organization that provides education to children living alongside municipal dumps in Tijuana, Mexico, and is the founder of Los Buen Deportes (roughly, The Good Sports ), an organization through which U.S. and Mexican teens engage in recreational soccer games and clinics. 14 UNDERSTANDING THE HYBRID MODEL

15 Registered Investment Advisors Bing Waldert Cerulli Associates Associate Director Mr. Waldert is responsible for Cerulli Associates intermediary distribution initiatives, focusing on distribution and strategic positioning within intermediary channels. He authors research studies for the The Cerulli Report series, including Registered Investment Advisors: Evaluating Opportunities in a Maturing Marketplace, and State of Wholesalers: Next Generation Coverage Models, and contributes to The Cerulli Edge series. Mr. Waldert has more than ten years of financial services industry experience, with particular concentration in wholesale distribution. Prior to joining Cerulli Associates, Mr. Waldert held a variety of roles at MFS and MFS/Sun Life Financial Distributors. His responsibilities included coordinating distribution company input on product development initiatives, training wholesalers and sales desk on products, and working with sales and marketing on product positioning. Previously, he was a financial consultant at Salomon Smith Barney. Mr. Waldert received his BA in economics and classics from the College of the Holy Cross. He has passed NASD Series 7, 24, and 63, and life insurance registration exams. 15

16 Member FINRA/SIPC A Registered Investment Advisor RC Tracking # (exp. 07/10)

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