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White Paper Series

Taking Control: Exploring Independence

June 13, 2022

Explore why advisor independence on the rise and the factors that will continue to influence growth

Michael Rose

Michael Rose

Associate Director

Bio →

Michael Rose

Michael Rose

Associate Director

As associate director of the Wealth Management practice, Michael is responsible for researching trends within the wealth management industry that impact broker/dealers. In this capacity, he regularly engages with key constituents that comprise the wealth management ecosystem, including investors, financial advisors, financial institutions, and technology providers, in order to measure key market characteristics and to advise financial institutions. Michael also collaborates with his Cerulli colleagues in support of the firm’s broader research into the wealth management industry.

Prior to joining Cerulli, Michael spent eight years working as a financial advisor, providing comprehensive wealth management services to high-net-worth individuals and families. Prior to his role as a financial advisor, Michael served as a research analyst for IDC, where he was responsible for researching trends within the technology industry and advising senior business executives on product strategy.

Full biography here.

Donnie Ethier

Donnie Ethier

Senior Director

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Donnie Ethier

Donnie Ethier

Senior Director

Donnie Ethier is the head of Cerulli Associates’ Wealth Management practice. The Wealth Management practice is dedicated to helping clients proactively adapt to retail financial advice and planning trends, including the high-net-worth markets. Donnie oversees the practice’s annual research agenda and is a core contributor to consulting engagements, syndicated research, and the U.S. Advisor Edge.

Since joining Cerulli in 2012, Donnie has led several practices and research initiatives including the Wealth Management, High-Net-Worth, and Annuity practices. Prior to joining Cerulli, Donnie held roles at Sun Life Financial and Sun Life Financial Distributors for eight years focusing on market and distribution strategy, product development, competitive intelligence, and professional development.

Full biography here.

Scott Smith

Scott Smith

Director

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Scott Smith

Scott Smith

Director

With more than 20 years of financial services industry experience, Scott leads Cerulli’s research efforts focused on investor behavior and advisory relationships. In his time at Cerulli, he has authored more than two dozen in-depth reports on topics ranging from wholesale distribution to digital advice platforms. His research helps Cerulli’s clients understand how to optimize their platforms given the evolving demand for financial advice.

Scott started his career wearing a headset at Putnam Investments’ service center in 1996, before moving to more strategic roles at MFS Investment Management starting in 2000, and then to Cerulli in 2007. In addition, he currently serves as member of the CFP Board’s Digital Advice Working Group, and as a judge for the wealthmanagement.com Industry Awards.

Full biography here.

Matt Belnap

Matt Belnap

Associate Director

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Matt Belnap

Matt Belnap

Associate Director

As an associate director, Matt plays a critical role in developing research across the retail financial services spectrum, including wealth management, managed accounts, and product development. Matt contributes to nine Cerulli reports across three research practices and manages The Cerulli Edge—U.S. Advisor quarterly publication.

Matt began his career in financial services at Eaton Vance investment management, serving in a variety of roles, ranging from shareholder services, to institutional marketing, and in competitive analysis seeking strategic distribution opportunities.

Full biography here.

Explore why advisor independence is on the rise and learn about key aspects of operating as an independent advisor.

Independence has been the fastest-growing form of advisor affiliation over the last decade, both in terms of the rate of growth in the number of advisors and the amount of client assets that are managed by advisors.

In January and February 2022, Cerulli conducted qualitative research interviews with successful financial advisors across employee and independent channels on behalf of Commonwealth Financial Network. These interviews addressed a broad range of topics, including consideration or experience with moving to an independent channel, client service models, succession planning, and key aspects of managing an independent practice.

The findings can be accessed in our white paper series, Taking Control: Exploring Independence.

Demystifying Independent Channel

Unpacking Independence, The Reason Advisors Seek It, and How They Can Make a Successful Transition

Demystifying the Independent Channel

Use these insights to explore the reasons why advisors seek independence and understand the different affiliation options available to advisors.

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Focus Experience

By Considering Advisors as their Primary Clients, Firms Serving Independent Channels Enable Advisors’ Success

Focus on the Experience

Evaluate the different ways firms across channels attempt to influence and manage the client experience advisors create. This white paper focuses on the degree of freedom advisors have in crafting a client experience and managing their practices based on their own preferences versus corporate initiatives.

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Infastructure Needs

Going independent doesn’t necessitate giving up critical resources and support

Managing the Independent Practice

Learn about the essential tasks and responsibilities associated with managing an independent practice and how advisors can leverage resources to help them run their business the way they want.

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Submit your information to download a PDF of the paper

Succession Planning

How independence enables customized business succession for advisors and facilitates inorganic growth opportunities

Transitioning Your Practice the Way You Want

Learn how independent affiliation expands an advisor’s range of succession planning options and creates opportunities for advisors looking to grow their practice through mergers and acquisitions.

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Submit your information to download a PDF of the paper

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