The removal of commissions simply makes ETF investing easier for advisors, Cerulli said.

"For those advisors who use a fee-based model, if they wanted to buy and sell ETFs, they needed to allocate those trading or commission costs into a fee budget for each client," the report said. "This allocation required additional planning and budgeting on the part of the advisor, to make sure that transaction fees were included in these budgets as the broader client portfolio was constructed. Many advisors may have simply found it easier to use a mutual fund vehicle."

The report also said advisors need to be aware that the move to zero commissions by the large custodians, and the media attention surroundnig the trend, is making clients more aware of investment advisory fees in general. That means advisors will have to be ready to articulate their value proposition to clients.

Cerulli quoted one surveyed advisor as saying, “Our clients are seeing ads in the train station, on billboards. They’re bound to become more aware." 

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