Advisors are growing assets and profit margins and are optimistic about the future, but are being weighed down somewhat by compliance issues, a new survey says.
   "This is a very exciting time for advisors, who are seeing tangible results from their ongoing commitment to operational and investment excellence," says Maya Ivanova, research analyst for Rydex AdvisorBenchmarking, which carried out the survey.
   The survey found that assets under management climbed to a six-year high, growing 21% from 2003 to 2004, which ended with a median of $105 million under management.
   A majority of the 353 RIAs surveyed, 81%, said their businesses performed better in 2004 than they had in 2003.
   They cited "government over-regulation" as the biggest threat their businesses faced. Advisors said they spent 19% of their time on clients in 2004, which was down from 36% in 2003, with many attributing the decrease to increased compliance responsibilities.
   Other findings included:
    Revenues increased 18% in 2004, to a median of $1.08 million.
    The growth of overhead expenses slowed down, increasing 11% in 2004 compared to 21% in 2003.
    The percentage of advisors using ETFs rose to 40% in 2004, compared to 30.7% in 2003. Separately managed accounts also increased in popularity, with 60% of advisors using them in 2004, compared to 50.2% a year earlier.
    Active management became more prevalent, with 15.6% of advisors describing themselves as becoming more tactical, compared to 7.6% a year earlier.