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Breaking into the brokerage business is getting tougher as declining fees make small accounts less profitable and government restrictions on unsolicited calls make phone sales taboo.

That’s leaving big firms struggling to replace a retiring generation of financial advisers who helped accumulate trillions of dollars of assets and generated steady profits for years.

The biggest brokerages — Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo & Co. and UBS AG — have seen their market share drop to 42 percent from 49 percent in 2007 amid competition from discount brokers and independent advisers (RIAs), according to Sean Daly, an analyst at Boston-based research firm Cerulli Associates.*

Furthermore, the average age of financial advisors at the biggest firms last year was 53, up from 48 in 2009, Wall Street firms have drastically cut back trainee programs to save costs during the financial crisis, and the emphasis switched to “luring” the big producers from each other by paying millions of dollars in bonuses.

So where’s the “silver lining” for the start-up financial advisor?

The days of “pitching a stock” is just not cutting it anymore; RIA, fee based investment advisor training programs such as those offered by Raymond James and Edward Jones are showing promise, with an emphasis on “face to face” training.

*Read more here for an in depth look.