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Facebook LinkedIn Twitter The vast majority of independent advisors in the U.S. believe asset growth is set to accelerate in the year ahead, according to a new survey. The latest TD Ameritrade Institutional Advisor Index survey of independent registered investment advisors (RIAs), found that nearly nine in 10 advisors expect to see a faster growth rate for assets under management (AUM) in 2013. Keywords Practice management,  Information technology Related news James Langton IIROC urges vigilance amid heightened cybersecurity threats Share this article and your comments with peers on social media “RIAs find themselves in an interesting paradigm – a challenging business environment combined with an unprecedented opportunity,” said Jim Dario, managing director of product management, TD Ameritrade Institutional. This, in turn, is pushing advisors to adopt a variety of strategic planning initiatives to prepare for their growth over the next six months, it says, including: conducting internal strategic planning discussions (67%), using benchmarking studies and whitepapers for guidance (37%), and conducting workshops (20%). As for specific strategic initiatives, the survey notes that advisors are deploying technology to increase scale (63%), systematizing client service and delivery (58%), and training and developing staff skills (58%), to facilitate growth over the next six months. In terms of technology, advisors say they plan to invest in customer relationship management tools (33%), performance reporting tools (31%) and mobile devices (28%). “Adopting new technologies alone will not create office efficiencies, improve client service or provide a pathway to more profitable growth,” added Dario. “These solutions will need to be integrated within a firm’s workflows and adopted by staff members as part of their day-to-day responsibilities to ensure consistency and effective impact on business processes.” Additionally, the survey reports that advisors say the vast majority of their growth opportunities come from referrals (86%). And, to attract new clients, it says advisors are considering new niche clients (34%), adding new markets (26%) and adding new expertise (26%). “Not only are top firms proactive in developing referrals, they are also using technology to systematize the referral process through the use of CRM dashboards and business analytics tools,” said Dario. “By knowing precisely where each referral opportunity is in the sales pipeline, advisors can nurture each prospect step-by-step with a timely and thoughtful communications approach.” In terms of headwinds for the advisory business, the survey points to increased compliance requirements (57%), regulatory changes (56%) and an aging client base (56%). In response, it says that 40% of advisors plan on increasing marketing and business development spending in the next six months. Most advisors are not considering merger and acquisition activities as part of their growth strategy (71%), it says. The survey was conducted by Maritz, Inc. on behalf of TD Ameritrade Institutional, and is based on interviews of 502 advisors from Dec. 15, 2012 to Jan. 11, 2013. It has a margin of error of ±4.4%. New platform to improve claims process at ivari Negotiation tips when buying or selling a book read more