Despite the number of advisors retiring and firms consolidating, the numbers of advisors and firms is growing, according to a study of Securities and Exchange Commission records released Tuesday.
The number of clients being served also is increasing, according to the 2016 Evolution Revolution, a study compiled by the Investment Advisor Association and National Regulatory Services. The findings paint a picture of a strong industry that has remained resilient despite flat markets, the two organizations say.
The Investment Advisor Association is a Washington, D.C.-based trade group representing SEC-registered investment advisors. Lakeville, Conn.-based National Regulatory Services provides compliance and registration products and services for investment advisors, broker-dealers, hedge funds, investment companies and insurance institutions. The study results were derived from SEC data.
The number of SEC registered advisors was 11,847 as of April 8, an increase of 3.3 percent over 2015. The number of non-clerical employees at the firms also increased by 30,540 for a total of 781,335, a 4.1 percent increase over last year. Of these employees, 386,532 provide investment advisory services, including research, “a healthy increase of 10,023 since 2015 [with] job growth reflected in firms of all sizes,” the report says.
Small businesses are the core of the federally registered investment advisor industry, according to the study. Almost 88 percent of the firms employ 50 or fewer non-clerical individuals and 57 percent have 10 or fewer. Industrywide, the median number of employees is nine.
The number of clients grew by 22 percent over last year, but the assets under management remained flat at $66.8 trillion, reflecting the generally flat markets in the past year, the organizations say. The study says the increase in the number of clients is due to the rise of automated advice for retirement plan participants and the growing popularity of web-based and app-based savings and investment models.
“This year’s findings demonstrate that the investment advisor industry remains robust and continues to expand, serving significantly more clients than ever before and contributing to substantial job growth,” says Karen Barr, president and CEO of the Investment Advisor Association.