Cambridge Investment Research expects about $250 million in revenue for 2009 based on its hybrid advisory model. Cambridge is considered a pioneer in moving the industry toward a fee-based advisory model. "Early on, it worked against us because people thought we were too small to survive," says Eric Schwartz, CEO and chairman of the board, who founded Cambridge's predecessor broker-dealer in 1981. "Now that we've become established, it's been a positive thing for people who have similar values. Our advisors are located all over."

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