At its annual meeting in San Diego, officials at the Financial Services Institute (FSI) wasted no time in highlighting the independent broker-dealer and securities representative association's achievements and growth over the past year.

Attendance at the event climbed almost 25% from the previous year to more than 750 brokerage executives and advisors. The group now has more than 35,000 advisor members. Although most of these individuals joined the association via a sponsorship paid by their brokerage firm, FSI CEO Dale Brown noted that when many advisors' membership has come up for renewal in recent months and that the renewal rate has hovered in the 70% area, defying skeptics who anticipated large falloffs in that rate. FSI projects that its revenue this year will reach $7 million, up from $3.5 million in 2010.

Brown said the organization's vision includes mobilizing all its members on advocacy issues of regulation effecting the industry, ranging from state and local governments to federal regulations coming out of Washington. The FSI pointed to a number of areas where it had blocked attempts by various groups in Washington to grab revenues from clients of the advisor business, ranging from stretch IRAs to variable annuities.

The group also mobilized efforts to short-circuit an attempt by the cash-strapped state of California to raise revenue by forcing independent reps in the Golden State to relinquish their independent contractor status and become employees of their brokerage firms.

As part of its effort to expand its reach into the advisor community, the FSI will hold its first annual conference, or summit for advisors, in Washington, D.C. in early September. Session topics will range from creating a healthier lifestyle to how to run for office. Speakers will include former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace, and Department of Labor Assistant Secretary Phyllis Borzi, who is expected to have issued her final regulation regarding the application of fiduciary standards to retirement accounts.