"We have begun a process to reduce advisors who are not engaged," CEO John Clendening said during the webcast. There were 4,392 advisors at the quarter's end, a 4-percent decrease from 4,568 at the end of last year's corresponding period.
Clendening said in many cases it will be obvious which advisors to trim. They often lack clients or are not managing any assets.
That approach is coupled with working to improve what he called "the movable middle". These are the advisors whose production can be increased. "By rolling off the unproductive advisors—we can devote more resources and training to the others," he said.
Clendening noted HD Vest is also turning to a new clearing partner, with the change expected to be completed in the last quarter of 2018. One reason for the length of time is the company does not want to change clearing partners while it still has the unproductive advisors it wants to exit.
The company lost slightly less than $17 million in the most recently ended quarter, down from a loss of $54.1 million a year earlier.
Revenue reached $90.2 million, an increase of 8.3 percent over $83.2 million in last year's corresponding period. Blucora also owns the TaxAct tax software line and since it is not tax season, revenue came overwhelmingly from the Vest operations. Advisory revenue reached $86.8 million for the third quarter, an 8.4 percent increase from $80.1 million a year earlier.