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IMPACT survey: Advisors staring in the face of stiff competition

It looks like the next next five years will be worth popping corks over if you are a registered investment advisor. According to Charles Schwab's latest Independent Advisor Outlook Study, 70 percent of RIAs are "very optimistic" that opportunities for growth are to come.

The results of the semi-annual survey were released Monday at IMPACT—Charles Schwab's annual invitation-only conference. This year some 1,900 independent registered advisors flocked to Washington to get a pulse on where the industry is heading.

The survey polled more than 800 RIAs who collectively represent some $228.5 billion in assets under management.

A majority say they are repositioning their businesses in order to capitalize on this newly expected growth. Advisors are focusing on two key areas to prep for this: "differentiating in the market" and "adopting and integrating new technologies."

Cristian Baitg | E+ | Getty Images

With expected growth comes an expectation of increased competition. The survey shows that respondents are anticipating a 50 percent increase in national RIAs and a 73 percent increase in online investment advisories.

The consensus is that competitive pressure will stem from two areas: regulatory changes and the new generation of clients who are likely to seek advice from multiple advisors, not just one.

(Read more: For fund pros, challenging times are on the way)

Advisors are going to feel the screws tightening a bit as competition begins to ramp up—66 percent of respondents feel they need to ensure they stand out from the pack.

It's the next generation of clients who are going to be driving a lot of these competitive game changes. Close to half of RIAs surveyed believe the next generation investors are going to be more involved in investment decisions, will be hungry for new service models that will be tech driven and will be more likely to use their wealth to make some sort of an impact.

More insights from the study:

—The top competitors RIAs now face are other regional investment advisors, wire houses and broker dealers.

—34 percent of advisors would increase tech resources in coming years to create a paperless environment; 27 percent would move to the cloud—eliminating onsite management.

Social media will continue to be a growing key marketing component for driving new business.

—55 percent of advisors believe top firms will have to provide low cost index funds, such as mutual funds and ETFs.

—Two in five advisors will have to provide yet-to-be-created investment options.

—71 percent plan to find a legacy successor for their business.

—By Anthony Volastro, CNBC Segment Producer

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