Broker satisfaction levels at wirehouses and independent broker-dealers, as well as satisfaction levels among registered investment advisors, declined amidst possibly the worst financial environment in seven decades. According to a survey of more than 1,200 U.S. investment advisors released this week by National Financial, a division of Fidelity Investments, the company's 4th annual index of broker and advisor sentiment registered 6.9 on a scale to 10, down from last year's reading of 7.3.

The biggest drivers of broker satisfaction are compensation, which nearly doubled in importance from last year, the survey reported. But satisfaction levels fell among several compensation measures: plan flexibility and competitiveness (down 12 points); level of payout ratios (down 14 points); and quality of benefits package (down 10 points). And the survey found that 9% of brokers said they're likely to switch firms during the next 12 months. That's consistent with last year's level. The top three reasons for switching firms are the desire for better pay, more independence or freedom, and better career opportunity. National Finance found that 35% of brokers who switched firms took more than 90% of client assets with them to the new firm.