Solo financial advisor practices will likely never go away (nor should they), but the industry’s relentless consolidation trend is nudging advisors to team up to leverage their skills, productivity and efficiencies, according to Cerulli Associates. In the “The Cerulli Edge: Advisor Edition” report published this spring, the Boston-based global research firm says advisors are working in teams because of mergers between established advisor firms or the pairing of junior and senior advisors at the same firm.

“The advisory industry is increasingly shifting away from an individual producer mind set to that of a multi-advisor team,” wrote Kenton Shirk, associate director at Cerulli, in the report. “The industry’s largest practices and mega-teams also typically serve affluent investors, which reinforces their propensity for teaming. The desired result is providing broader and deeper services to meet the more sophisticated needs of their high-net-worth clientele.”

According to Shirk, the growth of multi-advisor practices is most evident in independent channels—the average number of total professional staff per practice is 5.2 for dually registered practices and 4.5 for registered investment advisors versus 3.3 in the wirehouse channel.

He said advisors who work together in teams can pool their resources to provide more services while allowing advisors and their staff to specialize, which in turn can boost an advisor’s productivity and the firm’s growth opportunities.

The Cerulli report notes that broker-dealers tend to view things in terms of individual producers rather than multi-advisor practices. It quotes one unnamed B-D executive who said the B-D industry is built to support the solo advisor. That’s reflected in how B-Ds do business ranging from internal technology systems to compensation and incentives.

But Cerulli says branch managers and advisors at wirehouses and regional B-Ds are warming up to the idea of teaming their advisors. It states that wirehouses are testing training programs that team rookies with seasoned advisors who provide mentorship. The programs offer a graduated salary approach—a welcome change from the days of cold calling right out of the chute.

One example is Merrill Lynch, which gives trainees the option to join a team as a specialist and to complete training in two and a half years through its Team Financial Advisor Program. New advisors can pick a specialization such as business development, relationship management, investments or financial planning.

Wells Fargo launched a program last year that pairs every associate with an experienced advisor and a performance coach to help the new people get their feet wet for two to three years before taking the plunge on their own.

While teaming together advisors can help make advisory firms more proficient and profitable, programs such as these at Merrill Lynch and Wells Fargo are examples of using teamwork to help young advisors take root and blossom—which is vital for a graying industry with a well-documented problem of cultivating the next generation to carry the torch as the founding generation transitions toward retirement.