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RIA Custodians

Asset custodians are the central players in the RIA business and choosing one is the biggest decision most financial advisors will make to build their business. As the place where RIAs park their assets (the same way a captive broker would park assets at Merrill Lynch or UBS), custodians serve hundreds or thousands of these registered investment advisors and make big investments in technology and service on their clients' behalf.

This section features a series of articles under the “Asset Custody Project” label that cover these companies in a way that keeps advisors abreast of their progress – both with journalistic commentary and a common set of data so that advisors can easily compare them. The articles look at the strengths, weaknesses and niche capabilities of these companies.

— Brooke Southall

Here are links to the profiles of custodians:

  • Apex Clearing
  • Raymond James
  • State Street
  • Ceros Financial
  • Fidelity
  • Pershing
  • Royal Bank of Canada
  • Scottrade
  • Schwab
  • TD Ameritrade
  • Trade-PMR
  • Trust Company of America
  • BNY Mellon
  • Folio Institutional
  • Shareholders Service Group
  • National Advisors Trust
  • Equity Advisor Solutions
  • US Bank
  • If you want a more chronological look at news about the custodians, just scroll down.


    Jon Patullo [r.] with Jim Dario: We started here in Texas with nine vendors in 2010 to start the conversation.

    Alert to Pershing's API move and eMoney's dashboard acumen, TD Ameritrade brings its API partners to Texas to drive home its first-mover advantage

    TD does (almost) Dallas as it announces 100-plus third-party vendor integrations while keeping an eye on the competition

    June 30, 2016 — 12:05 AM UTC by Timothy Welsh

    At the TD Ameritrade Institutional Technology Summit, the elephant in the TD-rented room was Pershing Advisor Solutions.

    A little more than a year ago, at Pershing’s INSITE conference in Orlando, Fla., the other Jersey City, N.J.-based RIA custodian validated its open API ...

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    Christopher Norton: This campaign shows they are willing to ... run the type of national campaign these advisors could not execute on their own

    Schwab wows EXPLORE 2016 crowd with revived bid to advertise RIAs with two magic ingredients: Schwab branding and a budget of 'millions' of dollars

    Though skeptical observers call the effort window dressing, the San Francisco custody giant is incorporating lessons learned from the lackluster RIA-Stands-For-You campaign of 2011

    June 22, 2016 — 7:50 PM UTC by Lisa Shidler

    Brooke’s Note: Schwab is such a looming presence in the RIA business in its capacity as the key partner of 7,000 RIAs that we take note of even its smallest evolutions. But for the last several years, such metamorphoses have taken place predominately ...

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    Joshua Pace: Some advisors have grown so frustrated that they make a change to go to independent custodians. We don't compete on any level with advisors.

    How an eclectic trio of RIA custodians are willfully gaining ground with snail-like precision -- Part 2 of 3

    Lazarus-like RBC has another new leader, as does Trust Company of America and Shareholders Service Group, which is selling itself as a Pershing reseller of high security, but with more agile service

    June 15, 2016 — 8:08 PM UTC by Lisa Shidler

    Brooke’s Note: In this second part of a three-part series on RIA custodians, I’ll start with the well-earned positive spin on the RIA custody ventures of RBC, Shareholders Service Group and Trust Company of America. RBC is a big, solid bank with a ...

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    Mark Tibergien dodges F-Bombs from Julia Louis-Dreyfus -- allowing women to dominate Pershing's grab for change.

    Spinning 200+ years of legacy culture as a virtue, BNY Mellon uses Pershing INSITE to show its software side, softer side -- as it gets beyond NetX360 and men with a hard-wired approach

    Whether real fire follows these new clouds of smoke remains to be seen but Pershing's open API, robo strategy and feminine revolution project an aura of uplift

    June 10, 2016 — 4:20 PM UTC by Guest Columnist Timothy D. Welsh

    Brooke’s Note: Pershing, as unit of BNY Mellon, is a riddle. When it is falling behind and looking outdated, it hides behind bureaucratic words and throws PR cold water on media that try to gain more insight. But here’s the thing. When BNY ...

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    Robb Baldwin: Dealing with advisors who require lots of effort with very little assets, you realize that some of the greatest risk you end up facing is from small advisors.

    The non-Big Four RIA custodians, no longer runts but stunted in growth, are applying tougher love to hobbyist RIAs

    In part one of a three-part series, we examine how seven small custodians -- starting with Trade PMR and Scottrade -- are evolving away from the Utopian model of 100% inclusivity

    June 7, 2016 — 10:14 PM UTC by Lisa Shidler

    Brooke’s Note: Disruption is everywhere in the in the RIA business, with new attempts to automate and scale the delivery of fiduciary-laced financial advice appearing or evolving every day, it seems. Yet RIA custody — with its fat profit margins and ubiquity — has remained immune ...

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    Mark Tibergien: That's probably our highest priority -- an API store.

    Mark Tibergien reveals big Pershing robo future as his firm partners with Vanare, SigFig and Jemstep -- and follows TD Ameritrade's open API lead

    In speech at St. Regis in San Francisco, the BNY Mellon RIA unit CEO says Pershing is taking a deeper robo plunge by signing on marquee names

    May 4, 2016 — 6:11 PM UTC by Brooke Southall

    Brooke’s Note: Just when you think you have Pershing figured out, you don’t. The clearing and custody unit does plenty in style and substance to give an observer the impression that the 220-year history of BNY Mellon is an albatross around Pershing’s ...

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    Schwab teamed with AmEx months after rival Fidelity switched from AmEx to Visa

    As Fidelity divorces American Express, Schwab steps in to launch AmEx cards -- with help from RIAs -- as part of broader effort

    Fidelity says the average user got $1,500 in cash back last year, suggesting the average annual card-holder spend is around $75,000

    May 2, 2016 — 6:37 PM UTC by Sanders Wommack

    Brooke’s Note: Everybody, it seems, wants you to use their credit card — and credit card peddlers are relentless. I get thick packages in the mail from American Express at least once a month. I can’t go to my teller at Wells Fargo without ...

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    Walt Bettinger: The retail investor tends not to move as rapidly . . . or certainly doesn’t have a mutual fund sales person calling on them, telling them to move, like you have going on in the RIA space.

    Amid hail of DOL questions, Walt Bettinger calls RIAs' draining OneSource 'identified' risk, and explains away LPL/ RBC/BBVA picks of BlackRock FutureAdvisor over Schwab robo

    Schwab CEO admits he underappreciated 'brand' barrier in selling Schwab robo on B2B basis, and DOL 'best interest' issue hangs fire

    April 22, 2016 — 9:23 PM UTC by Lisa Shidler

    Brooke’s Note: The analysts of Wall Street really, really want to be the buddies of the CEOs whose firms they cover. But they also are determined to please the people who have the most power over their lives — their Wall Street bosses. The outcome ...

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    Ed O'Brien: When you look at what eMoney is doing, it is creating tools to help advisors that don't even clear or custody with Fidelity.

    As Ed O'Brien packs his bags for Philly to take eMoney CEO reins, Mike Durbin resumes his job modifying Fidelity's future from finance to software

    Fidelity is piloting eMoney in its own private client business as Thomas McCarthy fills O'Brien's shoes and Durbin eyes more acquisitions

    March 18, 2016 — 8:18 PM UTC by Lisa Shidler

    Brooke’s Note: A cynic might be distressed by this appointment. eMoney was supposed to stay pristinely autonomous. But now Edmond Walters is gone. Mike Durbin is exiting. A Fideity corporate veteran is stepping in. Is the writing on the wall for the squashing of ...

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    .Bernie Clark: We're quite proud of that [$1 trillion].

    Why Schwab execs are 'proud' of holding at $1-trillion custody mark first achieved in 2013 -- and what makes them pleased with its existing 25% RIA custody market share

    Candidly canvassing 2015 dings -- including a $12 billion RIA defection -- Walt Bettinger seems at peace with vigilantly guarding Schwab's mighty quarter of the RIA asset pie

    February 22, 2016 — 6:43 PM UTC by Lisa Shidler

    Brooke’s Note: The most enduring quality of the RIA business — when viewed as an industry — is how sliced, diced, atomized, fragmented and otherwise incohesive it is as an ever-shifting assembly of advice-mongering shopkeepers. In fact, RIAs are too scattered to count. See: How many ...

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