Schwab, Fidelity, DFA, LPL, Envestnet and the 401(k) market dominated the headlines this year

December 27, 2010 — 2:22 PM UTC by Elizabeth MacBride


In 2010, the advisory business returned to health, and advisors turned their attention to the future and the question of how they will compete for assets in a sprawling financial services universe. What advisors need, they tell us over and over again, is the right infrastructure. That’s the theme that emerges from a review of the top 20 articles on RIABiz last year. (Here’s the list of 21-40.)

Among the headlines, you’ll find those about custodians’ technology, the regulatory framework that will decide how brokers and advisors compete, and TAMPs and other kinds of investment advice. Our still-fledgling industry’s infrastructure is being constructed by large service providers to RIAs. Stories about Schwab Advisor Services, Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services, Dimensional Fund Advisors, Envestnet and LPL Financial dominate our rankings.

Marked difference

One marked difference from last year: the absence of breakaway news from the top headlines. Advisors turned this year to the practicalities of running their businesses in a still-uncertain, though hopeful, economy. (One story about breakaways does show up — our story about how to join the Broker Protocol).

Reflecting advisors in nuts-and-bolts mode, stories about technology and TAMPs were among the most popular on RIABiz. Integration, which seems the Holy Grail among custodians, sat at the top of the list of technology topics-of-interest.

Maybe nothing’s more exciting in the financial world than an IPO, and the industry’s two big ones this year both show up on our list of hit stories. Our LPL story, which was Brooke Southall’s careful look at LPL’s case for why it could launch a successful IPO (it was eventually proved right) was the top story all year long.

Meanwhile, one topic burst on the scene this year: the opportunities in the 401(k) market. Advisors wanted to hear what their peers are doing in this fast-changing world. Meanwhile, our readers also told us that while much attention has focused on the SEC this year, they are closely monitoring the revolution going on behind the bureaucratic walls in another Washington, D.C., agency: the Department of Labor. Stories covering the 401(k) regulations that have been issued with astonishing frequency this year drew many readers.

And then there are some stories that are just, well, stories about the people who make up the advisor community – like # 4 on this list. We hope to write more of those in the coming year. For greater insight, see our sequel article to this one: The next 20 top stories and what they say about where the RIA business is headed

1. 10 reasons why LPL Financial could pull off a hot IPO in a cold market

2. Schwab chooses some giant software partners, apparently with big RIAs in mind.

3. The Yale endowment model 
of investing is not dead.

5. Dimensional Fund Advisors still has low RIA acceptance rate and stunning growth

6. Fidelity will soon charge a big fee to small advisors

7. 10 reasons why the Envestnet IPO filing is for real

9. RIAs are starting to create their own 401(k) companies as alternatives to John Hancock and The Principal

10. Why gathering big-time 401(k) assets — and charging regular fees — is well within reach for most experienced RIAs

11. How the new 12b(1) fee restrictions could transform the financial advisory industry

13. Why the DOL’s proposed 401(k) rules could ding brokers and leave the spoils to RIAs

14. A look inside Schwab’s big deal with a small asset manager

15. Which firms are joining the Broker Protocol, and how your firm gets on the list

17. What Cogent’s new study says about where RIAs stand in the 401(k) market

18. How financial reform gives the SEC new bite

19. Why the DOL’s massive new 401(k) disclosure requirements are a very, very big deal

20. A close look at Tamarac’s Advisor 9 and its strategic use of Schwab software

No people referenced

Mentioned in this article:

Envestnet Inc.
Top Executive: Jud Bergman

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