Industry News

These advisors are also not concerned about regulatory changes, such as the new conflict of interest rule, and rising competition from robo-advisors

By James Langton |

Independent advisors in the U.S. are expecting strong growth in the year ahead on the strength of economic growth and market gains, according to TD Ameritrade Institutional's latest survey of independent registered investment advisors (RIAs) in the U.S.

The survey, which was conducted in the weeks following the U.S. presidential election, finds that advisors are "highly optimistic" that they will see continued growth in the year ahead.

In particular, almost 70% of RIAs say they are optimistic about the U.S. economy and 55% are similarly sanguine about the global economy.

In addition, 53% of RIAs expect the U.S. stock market to rise further in 2017, with 35% expecting the market to at least retain its gains from 2016.

"Advisor optimism may stem from finishing 2016 on a high note, with strong gains in assets, revenue and clients in the latter half of the year for most firms," TD Ameritrade Institutional says in a statement, adding that four out of five advisors predict their firms' assets will grow further in 2017 while half of them expect stronger asset growth in 2017.

Moreover, the survey found that RIAs are not concerned about industry pressures, such as regulatory changes and rising fintech competition. For example, some RIAs report that the forthcoming U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) conflict of interest rule, which is slated to take effect in April, will increase compliance costs. However, the majority of advisors say that it has been "business as usual" ahead of the new conflicts rule and that some advisors say that the new standards represent "a growth opportunity."

Furthermore, 82% of advisors say they have minimal, if any, concerns about the competitive threat that robo-advisors pose. "RIAs say robos cater to a different market and their own growth has largely not been impacted by them," TD Ameritrade Institutional notes.

"RIAs have been the fastest growing channel in the financial advice marketplace in large part because they offer investors a personalized, client-first approach," says Tom Nally, president of TD Ameritrade Institutional, in a statement. "At the same time, they have to find ways to navigate the myriad market forces converging on the industry if they want to keep growing."

The results are based on a phone survey of 306 RIAs conducted between Nov. 14 and Dec. 5, 2016. The margin of error is 5.6%.