More than a quarter of advisers saw preparation and implementation of the Retail Distribution Review (RDR) as the "toughest" period in their professional life, a survey has found.
Analysis from pension specialist Dunstan Thomas found 27% of the advisers polled struggled with the change, while another 18% admitted that RDR had caused them to lose income.
However, about 40% said RDR made no real changes in working practices as the firm they worked within "has always operated in a RDR-ready manner".
Statistics from its latest guide, Life after the Retail Distribution Review, also showed retaining clients was the top priority for IFAs post-RDR.
More than a third of advisers (36%) signalled that client retention was their biggest target this year, while an even larger number (41%) are focused simply on ‘making enough money via fees to replace commission income streams as they disappear'.
A fifth of advisers (19%) consider client acquisition their key priority in 2013, while some 15% are concentrating on communicating RDR-linked changes to clients (presumably with a view to retaining them).
A tiny minority (just 2%) are focusing energies on acquiring other adviser firms today, the guide said.
Dunstan Thomas chief executive Chris Read said: "RDR has been the touch-stone for so much change in the world of retail financial advice. No one in the industry has been unscathed. We are still counting the cost of the increased regulatory burden but we are also now shaping the future."
The firm's online survey of advisers garnered 148 responses.