RIAs Expand Headcount, Certified Financial Planner Population Grows

Editorial Staff February 20, 2024

RIAs Expand Headcount, Certified Financial Planner Population Grows

Separate figures for the RIA sector in the US, and the certified financial planner segment around the world, point to a rising number of people in these areas.    

The number of financial industry professionals has grown in the US and around the world, according to different data sources. 

RIAs expanded headcount by almost 8.6 per cent in 2022 from a year before despite the market selloff that year, according to Cerulli Associates. That growth rate is twice the annualized growth rate over the past 10 years.

In a separate report, the Financial Planning Standards Board said the number of certified financial planners globally rose by 5.1 per cent in 2023, reaching a total of 223,770 as of December 31, 2023.

Breakaway teams from banks and broker-dealers have driven RIA growth, reflecting a trend toward more fee-based advice in the US. Meanwhile, the FPSB figures, covering the global industry, highlight a growth in demand for financial planning.

Boston-based Cerulli said growth in advisors at RIAs was driven by breakaway teams continuing to tuck into large established firms. Cerulli said this trend will continue, but likely at lower annual growth rates as the pent-up pipeline during the Covid-19 pandemic continues to normalize. 

The overall total firm count of retail-focused RIAs grew greater than 11 per cent in 2022, mainly supported by a large amount of new independent RIAs (12.3 per cent).

In other figures, 93 per cent of all RIAs manage less than $1 billion in assets under management (AuM), whereas firms above this threshold manage 71 per cent of channel assets and employ 47 per cent of advisors. Cerulli anticipates that asset growth and market share gains will continue to be concentrated among firms managing greater than $1 billion in AuM. 

“The largest RIAs will continue to dominate as breakaway teams leave employee-based models to join large established RIAs that offer more autonomy, without advisors needing to sacrifice resources that they are accustomed to,” Stephen Caruso, senior analyst said.  

Who’s getting certified?
The FPSB said the following countries were standouts for advisors acquiring certifications as financial planners:

People’s Republic of China logged an increase by FPSB China of 4,565 CFP professionals for a year-end count of 34,747. In the US, the CFP board rose by 3,738 CFP professionals for a year-end count of 98,875. This is the largest CFP professional community in the world.

In Japan, 994 CFP planners joined the ranks, taking the total to 26,092, the world’s third-largest figure. 

Brazil logged a rise of 749 professionals to a year-end count of 9,379.

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