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Chart your own course

Get The RIA Roadmap, with industry-leading expertise, insight, and details on the key steps you’ll take in your transition.

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The moment to define yourself is here

The independent Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) model gives you the freedom to define your own path for growth. Find out where you’ll gain more control and how you can make the move with support from the industry’s leading RIA custodian for firms of all sizes.

 

Your guides to independence

Kimberly Sanders, Business Consultant, poses the questions that bring advisors’ visions to life.

Elyn Davis, Transition Consultant, describes how she supports advisors through the entire process.

 

Get answers to your questions about the RIA model:

 
“What does it really mean to be an RIA?”
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Answer

A Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) is an advisory firm that offers independent professional financial advice to clients with a range of investing goals and needs.

Many RIAs are owned by the advisors who run them. They are not tied to specific funds or products and typically provide their services for a fee based on a percentage of client assets.

Find out more by reading Exploring Independence.

Download the White Paper >

“Is the RIA model the right fit for me?”
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Answer

Not necessarily. Some advisors are comfortable where they are. Others aren’t ready to make the move.

But if you have a vision for how you want to do business—and you like the idea of having more control over your future and more choices for how you serve your clients—then the RIA model could be ideally suited for you.

To find out, take this short RIA self-assessment quiz.

Take the Quiz >

“What's the long-term viability of the RIA model?”
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Answer

While other channels (such as wirehouses and independent broker-dealers) shrink, the RIA model continues to grow year-over-year, a trend that shows no signs of slowing. 1, 2

See how more and more advisors are converting to the model—while RIA assets and revenue continue to rise—by checking out our Fast Forward breakdown of recent industry trends.

Read the Info Sheet >

1 Cerulli Quantitative Update 2013, exhibit 4.05.
2 Compound annual growth rate (CAGR).

“Who regulates the RIA industry?”
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Answer

RIAs are registered with either the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission or state securities regulators. RIAs have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of their clients as regulated by the Investment Advisers Act of 1940.

For additional information on regulation and registering as an RIA, read At a Glance: Legal and Regulatory Considerations for Becoming an RIA.

Read the Info Sheet >

“What if I want the benefits of the RIA model, but I don’t want to own a firm?”
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Answer

You have more options to grow as an independent advisor than ever before. You may prefer the freedom to focus on your clients without dealing with the day-to-day operations. Solutions range from enlisting platform-provider support to joining an existing firm.

Decide the best fit for you by reviewing the spectrum of independence.

Read the Info Sheet >

“Why would I expect to earn more as an independent RIA?”
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Answer

Advisors who own their business have the potential to net more than those in an employee model do—even when taking bonus payouts and other employee incentives into account.

Starting and running a business is an investment, and there are certainly startup and ongoing expenses involved. However, as an owner, you have 100% control over how revenue is distributed—including how you reinvest in the firm.

As an independent owner, you are also in the best position to maximize your income while laying the foundation for a potentially lucrative exit strategy.

Find out more by using our RIA Economic Discovery Tool.

Use the Tool >

“How will the RIA model affect my access to products and services?”
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Answer

Many advisors explore the Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) model because their current firm may limit the products and services they can offer their clients. With the RIA model, you get to choose the custodian that provides access to some of the best products and services to help suit the needs of your clients.

“I wake up every day thinking about how [we] can be bigger and better.”—Neal Simon

Watch advisor Neal Simon discuss the freedom that choosing the RIA model gave him.

“Will my clients come with me?”
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Answer

When clients think of your current firm, they think of you.

Industry research reports show that clients are loyal to their advisors, and nearly 80% of clients were immediately on board with the move.1

“It was seamless, and we had no complaints at all from any clients in this transition.”—Chris Baker

1Schwab Advisor Services, Advisors Turning Independent, interviews with “Sophomore Year Advisors,” 2013.

Discover how advisor Chris Baker worked with Schwab to move 95% of her clients over.

“Can I keep my commission-based business?”
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Answer

If commission-based business is part of your offer, you don’t need to give it up. The hybrid model lets you maintain both advisory and brokerage business. It also can enable you to offer clients a range of services and product solutions that complement their advisory philosophy.

Learn more about whether the hybrid option is the right fit for you by reading Schwab’s platform for hybrid advisors.

Read the Info Sheet >

“Will I be able to choose my own technology?”
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Answer

Instead of working within the constraints of technology mandated by larger firms, you have the freedom to choose the solutions that are the right fit for your business and your clients.

“One of the great things about the RIA model is you get to pick and choose the different technology packages that best fit your clients’ needs.”—Fran Hoey

Learn more about the benefits that advisor Fran Hoey experienced in choosing his firm’s technology.

“What kind of startup costs are involved?”
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Answer

Starting your own business is an investment—one that can involve everything from real estate and office setup to technology and marketing.

The RIA Economic Discovery Tool can help you identify and track the capital needed to make your move. And financing options—like small-business loans—help make the initial costs more manageable.

Get an initial view of the startup costs you might encounter by reading Discover Your Economic Potential.

Read the Info Sheet >

“What's involved in the transition, and how long does it take?”
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Answer

No two transitions are exactly alike. For example, if you choose to join an existing firm rather than start your own, the process can be expedited.

Whether you join or start your firm, the timing will depend on how quickly you want to make the move.

To better understand the steps and timeline for your unique situation, start by using the Independent Online Planning Tool.

Use the Tool >

To better understand the steps and timeline for your unique situation, visit our Transition Page.

Visit the Page >

“What type of transition support is available?”
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Answer

Growing as an independent advisor doesn’t mean going it alone. Schwab Advisor Transition Services® has developed a highly efficient and personalized process and team to help you move your clients.

“They were literally there with us, 16 to 18 hours a day, to make sure the transition process was seamless.”—Brett Sharkey

Watch to see how advisor Brett Sharkey worked with Schwab to transfer accounts and transition clients.

“What kind of ongoing service and support can I expect?”
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Answer

You built your client relationships on excellent service. As an independent advisor at an RIA firm, you should expect the same high level of support from your custodian.

With Schwab, you’ll have dedicated service and support teams to help you with firm operations and business growth, plus access to best practices, industry events, and many other resources.

“Schwab has shown over and over again that they really understand our industry and our challenges.”—Jane Newton

Learn more about the support that Jane Newton has experienced as an advisor at an RIA firm.

“How do I find the technology that’s the best fit for me?”
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Answer

With the RIA model, you have the freedom to choose the right solutions for your firm and clients. When you need expertise, Schwab can provide guidance in finding the best tech for you—including trading, CRM, portfolio management, and everything in between.

Learn more about our end-to-end platform.

Get started today

At Schwab Advisor Services™, we are champions of independence and dedicated to empowering you to take your business further, no matter its size. Learn more about the RIA model and what it takes to define yourself. The RIA Roadmap gives you 25 years of industry-leading expertise, insight, and details on the key steps you’ll take in your transition.

Fill out the form below to download your guide. We may use the information you provide to send you additional leadership insights from Schwab Advisor Services.

We respect your privacy. Read more about Schwab's privacy policy .

Have some questions of your own?

We’re here to answer them. Call us at 877-687-4085 or visit advisorservices.schwab.com.

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*Schwab Advisor Services supports over 7,500 advisors with more than $1.2 trillion in assets under management, making it the industry-leading custodian for RIAs.

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Information included on this site is intended to be an overview and is subject to change. Experiences expressed by advisors may not be representative of the experience of other advisors and are not a guarantee of future success.

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