(Dow Jones) Defections by financial advisors from the major brokerage firms are expected to gradually pick up this year as the economy improves and some incentives to stay put start to expire.

That movement is likely to benefit independent advisory firms, which will attract many of the defectors, some recruiters say.

"Despite the size of the transition packages being offered by competing wirehouse firms, if an advisor is thinking about leaving, more often than not it's to go to some independent advisory firm," says Mindy Diamond, president of Chester, N.J.-based search firm Diamond Consultants.

LPL Financial, part of LPL Investment Holdings Inc., and the biggest independent broker dealer, is one likely beneficiary, she says.

Mark Casady, chairman and chief executive of LPL Financial, told Dow Jones Newswires last week that his company recruited fewer advisors from wirehouses in 2010, as some of the major firms put retention bonuses in place. But LPL expects recruiting from those firms to return to normal levels this year as some of those incentives expire, he said.

Bing Waldert, an analyst at Cerulli Associates, said defections from the major brokerage firms slowed in 2010 partly because so many advisors departed in 2009. "Our expectation is that it would start to slowly pick up again in 2011 and return to more normalized levels," he said.

Any financial advisor who took a retention bonus to remain at a wirehouse firm has likely been watching as his peers take "pretty big packages" to move from one firm to another, said Waldert. As retention bonuses are paid up, advisors who have been dissatisfied or are tempted by up-front incentives will be sizing up their options, he said.

Among independent broker-dealers, few are equipped to bring on a successful wirehouse advisor, but LPL is one firm that is positioned to successfully handle such recruits, Waldert said.

Improving markets and investor sentiment will also trigger defections.

Alois Pirker, an analyst at Aite Group LLC, said he believes the bulk of retention bonuses won't expire this year. But he expects movement nonetheless as advisors who may have delayed moves due to the downturn finally see the chance to make a change with markets on the upturn.

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