The financial advisory services business faces a dilemma: it's growing fast, but some firms don't have enough people to service that growth. As part of the solution, National Financial today announced two new programs to help broker/dealer firms bolster their existing recruiting efforts and accelerate broker development.

National Financial, a Fidelity Investments company that offers products and services to broker/dealer and institutional investment firms, is rolling out a broker/dealer recruiting program to help attract brokers and advisors with a package that includes access to health care benefits should independents require new coverage, a step-by-step transition checklist of things to consider when changing firms, marketing collateral that can be personalized by the broker/dealer, and an interactive CD-ROM on the benefits of the Streetscape workstation.

The second new product is a broker and advisor development program aimed at helping brokers and advisors capture business in the managed account and retirement income planning spaces. It includes on-demand education and training videos, CD-ROMs, industry articles and white papers. The program also includes investor-level materials such as ad-slicks, along with brochures and various electronic communications designed to strengthen brokers' client and prospect relations.

These programs are free to National Financial clients, except for costs incurred by people enrolled in the health care benefits program provided by BenefitProtect.

Recruiting and retaining successful brokers and advisors are firms' top two business strategies, according to the 2007 National Financial State of the Broker/Dealer Industry Study.

"Our study reveals that firms are clearly focused on hiring and retaining top producers," said Norman R. Malo, National Financial's president and chief executive officer. "Interestingly, the number one request we get from clients today is to support their brokers, something which only a few years ago was off-limits."

According to the study, 68% of broker/dealers surveyed report "growth" as their top priority for success in the next five years. In addition, the top two business strategies broker/dealers focus on are hiring (56%) and retaining (45%) successful brokers. Most firms do not believe they are "very competitive" in their professional development and marketing support efforts for brokers.

The study further states that smaller broker/dealer firms need the most help with their broker development and support. Responses show that 15% of firms with fewer than 100 brokers believe that their professional development offering is "very competitive" versus 31% of firms with more than 100 brokers. Smaller firms also believe they are less competitive in their marketing support-19% versus 41% of large firms.

"The broker talent pool simply isn't deep enough to meet firms' aggressive recruiting goals," said Sandra Metraux, National Financial's executive vice president. "Companies must find new ways to recruit and retain, or they could be forced to adjust their growth plans.

National Financial serves nearly 340 clients who collectively have more than 86,000 brokers. As of June 30, it custodied more than $693 billion in assets in more than 5.5 million customer accounts.

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