The number of U.S. financial advisors fell for the fifth straight year as the industry suffers a continuing wave of retiring veteran advisors, according to a report published Wednesday.
There were roughly 285,000 financial advisors in 2014, a 1.9 percent drop from 2013, according to a report by the Boston-based research group Cerulli Associates. The industry has lost more than 39,000 advisors, roughly 12 percent, since its peak in 2008, when there were 325,000 advisors.
The decrease held steady from 2013, when advisor headcount also fell by 1.9 percent, but researchers say retirement will continue to hurt the industry.
Nearly half of all financial advisors are over the age of 55. Over the next decade, Cerulli expects nearly 100,000 brokers will retire.
Cerulli has tracked advisor population figures since 1992. The data comes from surveys of 7,000 advisors across banks, brokerages, insurers and other investment firms.
Only two segments of the wealth management industry saw their sales force increase: registered investment advisors (RIA), which are independent wealth management firms that collect fees on a client's assets, and dually registered or hybrid advisors, who operate independent firms that collect fees on a client's assets and commissions on securities trades.
Cerulli Associate Director Kenton Shirk said he expects RIAs and hybrid firms can expect continuing growth in numbers of advisors over the next five years.