The latest report on the state of the financial advisor profession reveals some seemingly contradictory findings about the industry. For starters, the number of investment advisors registered with the SEC grew only slightly in 2006 compared to previous years. But a large number of advisors were taken off the registry roles-these were mainly hedge fund advisors who de-registered after a recent court decision that invalidated an SEC rule mandating hedge fund advisors to register under the Investment Advisers Act. As a result, the slow growth may be misleading.

   The number of registered advisors grew only 1.5% from April 2006 to April 2007, to 10,446. However, 732 hedge fund advisors took themselves off the registry. A total of 1,142 new advisors registered during the year. The profession has increased dramatically since the report was first produced in May 2001 when there were 7,322 registered advisors.

   Most firms-9,442 to be exact-have fewer than 51 employees; of these, 5,110 have five or fewer.

   Meanwhile, the amount of assets under management grew significantly. A relatively few large firms control the vast majority of assets even though the number of advisory firms organized as small businesses dominate the profession.

   Assets under management grew nearly 20% during the past year, to $37.65 trillion. The largest 472 firms, or 4.5% of the total industry, control $28.91 trillion, or 84.3% of available discretionary assets. The total amount of assets under management reported in the first survey was $20.26 trillion.

   These findings came from the seventh annual report on the profession that's produced by the Investment Adviser Association and National Regulatory Services. The report is based on information advisors are required to file with the SEC.