The number of U.S. financial advisers fell for the fifth straight year as the industry suffers a continuing wave of retiring veteran advisers, according to a report published Wednesday (Feb. 18, 2015).

There were roughly 285,000 financial advisers in 2014, a 1.9 percent drop from 2013, according to a report by the Boston-based research group Cerulli Associates. The industry has lost more than 39,000 advisers, roughly 12 percent, since its peak in 2008, when there were 325,000 advisers.

The decrease held steady from 2013, when adviser headcount also fell by 1.9 percent, but researchers say retirement will continue to hurt the industry.

Nearly half of all financial advisers are over the age of 55. Over the next decade, Cerulli expects nearly 100,000 brokers will retire.

Cerulli has tracked adviser population figures since 1992. The data comes from surveys of 7,000 advisers across banks, brokerages, insurers and other investment firms.

Only two segments of the wealth management industry saw their sales force increase: registered investment advisors (RIA), which are independent wealth management firms that collect fees on a client’s assets, and dually registered or hybrid advisers, who operate independent firms that collect fees on a client’s assets and commissions on securities trades.

Cerulli Associate Director Kenton Shirk said he expects RIAs and hybrid firms can expect continuing growth in numbers of advisers over the next five years.

Source: Reuters