The number of SEC-registered investment advice firms has reached an all-time high, according to a recent report.
As of April 2019, RIA ranks have swelled to 12,933 firms, a 3.3% increase from last year, according to a report from the Investment Adviser Association, the trade association whose members collectively manage $25 trillion for institutional and individual investors, and National Regulatory Services, part of the payment and compliance solutions provider Accuity. RIAs now manage $83.7 trillion, up 1.4% from the year prior, the report says, citing data drawn from Forms ADV. That’s almost four times the 2001 levels, according to IAA an NRS.
The number of clients, meanwhile, has ballooned by nine million since last year to 43 million, but the report attributes the growth in part to the rise of digital advice platforms where many clients maintain small or zero account balances. Individual clients make up 94.6% of the total, and 87% of them are non-high net worth, according to the IAA and NRS.
Furthermore, the investment advisor industry now employs a record 835,124 non-clerical employees, an increase of 3.7% from last year, the report says. At the same time, 56.9% of RIAs employ 10 or fewer such employees and 87.5% have fewer than 50, according to the IAA and NRS.
“Competition in the financial advisory space is at its highest, as the number of investment advisers and the amount of assets they manage continue to grow to record levels,” NRS president John Gebauer says in the press release. “Advisers are responding to increased demand by continuing to use automation and technology to deliver the level of service advisory clients require.”