Independent financial advisers are gaining on the big Wall Street firms in managing personal assets, as more brokers leave companies they see as unreliable or tarnished. Those heading for the exits are taking many of their clients with them, creating a net outflow in 2009 of about $188 billion in client money, the Wall Street Journal estimates, on top of $20 billion in 2008.
One analyst predicts that the stake of money invested by individuals handled by the big firms will fall to 41% by 2012, down from 48% in 2008. Independent advisers will oversee 24% in 2012, up from 19%. The big firms brush off the losses, saying most of the advisers going independent were poor performers, but the indies say the majors have become tenuous perches. After the collapse of Lehman Brothers, one says, "we realized that we could be at risk" even at a major firm.