The first quarter of 2021 has seen the fewest amount of advisers leave in three years according to research from Adviser Ratings.

The latest Musical Chairs report found 433 advisers left the industry in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the record 1,810 advisers that departed the previous quarter due to the FASEA exam deadline which included 847 leaving in December.

For perspective, adviser numbers shrank just over one per cent compared to 6.5 per cent in the final quarter of 2021.

“After an unsettling final quarter of 2021, the new year heralded a return to stability for the advice market, but as always, the promise of change on the horizon looms,” the report stated.

Previous research from AR predicted the number of advisers to fall to 14,964 by the end of the year. Data published on Thursday afternoon from Wealth Data shows the ASIC Financial Adviser Register is currently at 17,044.

“As we enter the second quarter of 2022, almost 900 advisers are yet to successfully complete the FASEA exam given the extension received after the deadline for end of 2021,” the latest report stated. “They have until September to do so.”

Data previously released by AR found the exam extension wasn’t a popular move, with two-thirds being against it. Only 32 per cent passed the first iteration of the ASIC adviser exam in January.

Switching places

Moving activity across licensees in 1Q22 mimicked the previous quarter, the research found, with just over 600 advisers finding new homes.

“The shifts among licensees were fairly consistent across the three months, with a slight rise in activity in March.”

The report stated the start of the year typically doesn’t bring as much switching as the two middle quarters.

“Many advisers are still settling into the post-lockdown phase, with a mix of office and remote work, but as networking increases throughout the year, we also expect to see a rise in licensee musical chairs. Corporate activity will probably bolster this, as banks and insurers continue to exit advice.”

Some 62 per cent of advisers are now licensed by privately-owned boutiques.

Indecision 2022