Are advisors at banks and credit unions more diverse than those at wirehouses and independent firms? In terms of age and gender, they are, giving them an edge in attracting women and millennials, say researchers at Kehrer Bielan Research & Consulting.

The average age of bank and credit union advisors is a relatively young 44, according to data Kehrer Bielan collected from 1,284 banks and credit unions in March and April. That's seven years younger than the average advisor at an independent broker-dealer firm and eight years younger than the average wirehouse advisor, according to data from Cerulli Associates. 

"Importantly, the age distribution of advisors in financial institutions is not tilted toward the older age groups," says Tim Kehrer, a senior research analyst at Kehrer Bielan. In a survey of a bank with more than 500 advisors, Kehrer Bielan found that 16.8% were between the ages of 55 and 64.  At wirehouses and independent firms, twice as many (33%) are in this age cohort, according to Cerulli.  

Banks and credit unions also appear to have a greater percentage of female advisors. Women made up 23.5% of the advisor force at the 1,284 financial institutions surveyed, with percentages ranging from 13% to 33%.  In contrast, at a large independent firm with more than 10,000 advisors, women advisors made up 16.5% of the advisor force, Kehrer Bielen says.

One of the possible reasons that banks and credit unions have more women advisors is their use of licensed platform reps, which tend to be predominantly female, says Kehrer Bielan.  Its research shows that advisors in firms with platform investment reps are 26% more likely to be women.

Interestingly, smaller banks and credit unions that outsource the broker dealer function have a higher proportion of female advisors than larger institutions that own their broker-dealer. According to Kehrer Bielen, women who work at banks that outsource their broker-dealer businesses constitute 26% of the advisor force, compared with bank-owned broker dealers, where they make up just 22%.

TPM executives agreed with the findings, particularly as it related to the age of advisors. "In general, you see a slightly younger field force in the institutional channel than you might in an independent channel," said Andy Kalbaugh, managing director of LPL Financial Institution Services.

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