TD Ameritrade Institutional announced Wednesday that 212 breakaway brokers have joined its network during the first three quarters of its fiscal year 2010.

That's a record amount for the first three-quarters of any fiscal year for the Jersey City, N.J.-based RIA custodian, and is a 44% jump over the year-earlier period. It also tops the total number of breakaway brokers who joined the fold in all of 2009.

Tom Nally, the company's managing director of sales, says 42% of the breakaway brokers are joining existing advisory firms. He notes that in the past it was typically the entrepreneurial types who were attracted to the independent route because they wanted to start their own business, but that's been changing.

"What we've seen after the financial crisis is that the visibility of the independent model has expanded and we're seeing folks who are less inclined to be entrepreneurs who want to take advantage of the independent model by joining existing advisors," he says.

Still, wirehouse brokers aren't fleeing the channel en masse. "The largest destination for a wirehouse broker is another wirehouse firm, and I think it'll remain that way for a long time," says Scott Smith, associate director at the consultant company Cerulli Associates.

When it comes to wirehouse or regional brokers going to independent broker-dealers, RIAs or dually-registered firms, Smith describes the trend as "a slow leak rather than a sea change."