The Investment Management Consultants Association is looking to independent advisors for growth as they grab a greater share of the financial services marketplace, while the association's traditional base -- wirehouse and regional broker-dealers -- declines.

Independent advisors have grown to 29 percent of IMCAs members from 13 percent seven years ago, the group’s executive director and chief executive officer Sean Walters said.

“We would like that number to grow to half,” he added.

The growth in the number of smaller advisors was also evident in a membership snapshot from 2013 that was released Friday.

Average member assets under management declined 9.2 percent last year from 2012 to $297 million as smaller firms (usually independent advisors) became a more pronounced presence.

For the advisor offering clients a broad base of financial planning services including insurance, cash management and retirement consulting, Walters said, the Certified Financial Planner designation is the gold standard.

But for the professional who focuses on serving customers’ investment management needs with portfolio construction and asset allocation, the executive said, IMCA’s Certified Investment Management Analyst credential is the better choice.