The Financial Services Institute's membership jumped to more than 33,000 with the addition of independent financial advisors from Ladenburg Thalmann Financial Services Inc.

The firm's three independent broker-dealer subsidiaries -- Securities America Inc., Triad Advisors Inc. and Investacorp Inc. -- as well as their approximately 2,700 affiliated independent financial advisors have become FSI members for 2012, the company announced this morning.

With the addition of Ladenburg Thalmann, FSI's membership count now stands at more than 33,000 financial advisors and 124 financial services firm members with more than 180,000 affiliated advisors. Started in 2004 when it was spun out of the Financial Planning Association (where it had formerly been that organization's broker-dealer division), FSI is an advocacy organization for independent broker-dealer firms and independent financial advisors. Ironically, as many FSI firms pony up membership dues for their reps, FSI's advisor membership now exceeds that of the FPA, its former parent.

Many broker-dealers have paid membership dues for their reps for only one year, reasoning greatly expanding the association's membership will give it increased clout in Washington at a time of sweeping regulatory change. It is not clear whether the firms will continue to pay reps' dues going forward. If the broker-dealers elect not to pay future dues for their reps, it remains to be seen whether advisors will conclude they are receiving enough value to pay themselves.

Miami-based Ladenburg Thalmann provides independent brokerage and advisory services, investment banking, equity research, institutional sales and trading, and asset management services. Together, Ladenburg Thalmann & Co., Investacorp, Triad Advisors and Securities America have approximately $70 billion in client assets.

"The momentum our members are creating is infectious and will pay off in big ways this year," said Keith Kelly, executive vice president and COO for FSI. "With commitment like this from firms like Ladenburg Thalmann, the possibilities of what FSI can accomplish for all of its members are limitless."

Ladenburg Thalmann advisors through their FSI membership gain an Advocacy Action Center to communicate with legislators and regulators, opportunities to visit Capitol Hill and educate lawmakers and exclusive FSI publications and communications.

Besides FSI advocacy, Ladenburg Thalmann advisors will also receive free, on-demand, members-only Web conferences and podcasts on advocacy related-topics; quarterly advisor briefing calls; access to analyses of regulatory and legislative proposals.

"The FSI is a strong advocate for the independent broker-dealer and independent financial advisor community and we're pleased to be partnering with this organization to help advance its important mission," said Richard Lampen, president and chief executive officer of Ladenburg. "We're helping to ensure that our advisors' voices are heard in Washington and the states in which they operate as we continue to grow the Ladenburg franchise."

-Jim McConville