Revenue at independent registered investment advisors (RIAs) slumped last year versus the prior year, but advisors polled by Charles Schwab expect an uptick in 2010.

According to Schwab's annual RIA Benchmarking Study that was recently released, RIAs reported revenue per client slumped 11% last year to $6,900, down from $7,800 in 2008. But advisors participating in the study estimate their revenue will rise 10% this year.

Among the growth drivers, 77% of respondents cited maintaining quality and consistency in client service while adding new clients, and 74% said the ability to convert prospects into clients. Other growth drivers include delivering investment returns that help attract and retain clients (68%), implementing technologies to build scale (65%) and adapting operations and day-to-day procedures to accommodate growth and improve efficiency (62%).

Among growth roadblocks, 56% said the biggest impediment was finding sufficient staff time to devote to business development. Other potential barriers include developing and following a marketing strategy (44%), finding enough budget to invest in marketing (39%), identifying prospects (38%), and developing and implementing a growth plan for the firm (31%).

The study polled 870 firms managing more than $300 billion in combined assets, with 80 firms managing $1 billion or more. On average, participating firms have 380 clients, $470 million in assets under management and $2.6 million in revenue.