Given that the core of financial planning is the delivery of personalized, customized financial advice, there have always been limited benefits of scale for financial advisory firms; no matter how good the technology, operations, and staff support, advisors only have so many hours available and so much mental "bandwidth" to serve clients, ultimately limiting the scalability of an advisory firm.
Yet while advice itself may not be conducive to scale, the marketing of financial advice certainly is. In fact, recent industry studies are beginning to show that larger firms seem to be driving more referrals than smaller ones, and many of the largest advisory firms are generating a huge volume of new clients by leveraging the value of relatively few dedicated full-time marketing staff.
Accordingly, this suggests the environment for smaller advisory firms may become increasingly challenged, as the larger firms grow larger while the smaller firms remain "stuck" small, unable to reinvest enough into marketing the practice to accelerate its own growth. While this may not be the end of small firms and solo practitioners, it will make such firms increasingly reliant on scalable marketing strategies (e.g., social media) or focused niche markets to carve out a space where they can remain differentiated and truly competitive.