The independent-broker/dealer channel is going strong. There are hundreds of IBDs in operation, and with more than 90,000 advisors, it's the largest channel in the financial-services industry. A sector of that size brings with it a lot of diversity. Indeed, independent b/ds come in all shapes in sizes. A look at Registered Rep.'s “Top Independent Broker/Dealers” list (ranked by assets) shows a number of insurance-owned firms, some with multiple platforms, at least one that does almost exclusively fee-based business, and a giant firm with over 10,000 reps. The diversity of options for reps can be overwhelming.

To help, Registered Rep. asked five independent b/d executives (most of them founders or CEOs) about the ins and outs of their firms. Cadaret, Grant's Art Grant, Commonwealth's Joe Deitch, Mutual Service Corp.'s J. Andrew Kalbaugh, Securities America's Steve McWhorter and LPL's Bill Dwyer, share the goods on the future of their firms, and offer their thoughts on industry trends.