Today, more and more traditional investment brokers are making the transition from charging one-time commissions to levying annual fees for managing their clients’ assets. Consequently, small investors are being forced to shun them and instead turn to independent brokers for their investment needs. To act as an independent broker, a professional has to register as an investment advisor and sign up with a big brokerage house, which in turn provides the necessary operational support. The chosen brokerage firm would act as custodian, trader and backroom office for the independent broker. Alternatively, independent brokers can also manage these things on their own. But for a professional, striking out as an independent broker is not easy. The first, and perhaps the biggest, hurdle is getting clients to transfer accounts.
On the other hand, the rising costliness of the established players has wedged open a low-end market for newcomers. More and more small investors are looking to these comparatively cheap alternate service providers to take over responsibility for their portfolios. That is the reason why so many are doing well as independent brokers. And this business is gradually coming into its own as more and more brokerage professionals are being lured into it.
Many investors prefer independent brokers over the traditional brokerages, since there is little chance of partiality to any particular firm and, in turn, judgment clouded by personal motives. Independent firms pay fees for services provided by their parent firms. The parent firms do not begrudge operation of these independent players, on the ground that the latter's fee contributions are accounting for an ever-growing share in the former’s revenues.
The independent brokers have also now begun cutting loose from their affiliations with big brokerages and managing things on their own. This is because they are averse to losing any revenue to brokerage firms once their line of business acquires credibility. Further, they also want to enjoy the strategic advantage of not being associated with brokerage firms which represent the interests of particular business groups.
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