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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:

  • Equity Advisor Solutions
  • 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
  • US Bank
  • If you want a more chronological look at news about the custodians, just scroll down.

    Paul Reilly confirmed that, for the first time, the fastest growing segment in the firm’s private client group last fiscal year was its RIA channel.

    In calm after storm Raymond James showcases three RIA tipping points at RIA confab -- and two of them are good

    The St. Petersburg, Fla.-based broker-dealer took unabashed aim at the brokerage model as Tom Giacchetti warned RIAs about an SEC no longer content with firing warning shots

    October 12, 2017 — 8:57 PM UTC by Guest Columnist Anthea Penrose

    Brooke's Note: What happened at the Raymond James RIA conference at the Boca Raton Resort Oct. 2-4 stayed at the ... you know. Except for what ended up on the pages of RIABiz. For that we can thank Anthea Penrose, public relations manager for Raymond James private client group.  ...

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    Mike Durbin: The number one thing I will do in this job is serve as chief advocate for our clients.

    'No BS' Mike Durbin leapfrogs up the Fidelity Investments ladder but can he serve RIAs, eMoney and Abby?

    RIAs run out of superlatives for the eight-year exec's ability to 'get it' at both the intrapreneurial and entrepreneurial level as he ascends to president of $2.3-trillion Fidelity Institutional

    October 6, 2017 — 8:06 PM UTC by By Lisa Shidler

    Brooke's Note: It bears repeating. Fidelity Investments is both a giant mom and pop business and one of the more corporate corporations you'll ever run across -- and that is why it remains on top of the heap with more than $6.2 trillion ...

    Matthew Borden: When it goes to the jury it’s gonna be plain to see through what the bank is doing .... Meanwhile my clients are [n]ot cowering from the bank and not shirking their duties to their clients.

    Silicon Valley $300-million RIA strikes back at $30-trillion BNY Mellon with act of counter-intimidation

    Lyell Wealth's response in the Atherton Lane case discloses dirty laundry list of allegations including blatant cross-selling, bullying ex-Atherton advisors out the door and retaliation against clients considering following them

    August 10, 2017 — 4:23 PM UTC by Janice Kirkel

    Brooke's Note: Here's a hell of an interesting case involving four advisors breaking away from an RIA -- Atherton Lane -- to form their own firm, Lyell. The twist is that the RIA it left had just been purchased by BNY Mellon -- and here they are being sued ...

    Greg Fink: We went through a process at Fidelity to make sure Triad and parent owner (Ladenburg Thalmann & Co. Inc. of New York) was OK with us breaking away.

    Three advisors in Atlanta break away with $1.8 billion and make seven-year Fidelity relationship manager their CEO -- whose duties now include managing a lawsuit from former IBD

    ACG Wealth replaced Triad with their own broker-dealer and allegedly depended on a verbal assurance that may be tested in court

    July 27, 2017 — 11:41 PM UTC by Janice Kirkel

    Brooke's Note: The RIA model is so powerful that sometimes it seems to make all things possible -- like taking all the parts you liked from your old life to your new life and leaving the parts you disliked behind. And if you like none ...

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    Bill Capuzzi: InvestCloud is similar to Envestnet and we want to be agnostic and provide our advisors choice. It really is about providing advisors with choices they want on the front end.

    InvestCloud, a start-from-scratch Envestnet emulator and Jamie Dimon darling, gets cozier with Apex to better reach RIAs

    Apex RIAs can now customize portfolios via InvestCloud, which JP Morgan has a stake in, perhaps creating a counterweight to back-end monolith Envestnet

    July 19, 2017 — 6:50 PM UTC by By Lisa Shidler

    Brooke's Note: Like "plastics" in The Graduate, I have been hearing about InvestCloud for quite a while. But we have held off writing about the company for a couple reasons. For one, what it does is hard to grasp. It's trying to do so much ...

    Jim McCool got off on the wrong foot with RIAs, paving the way for a Bernie Clark era.

    Eight years after historic Schwab-RIA rift, Jim McCool, the controversial former RIA chief and original Bettinger partner, exits

    After McCool hastily axed alternative investments from Schwab RIA platform, Bernie Clark took the chief custody role as part of the healing process

    July 6, 2017 — 11:07 PM UTC by Brooke Southall

    Brooke's Note: We'll never really know how to assign Jim McCool a place in RIA history. It was nearly impossible for a journalist to get him to speak off script and nobody on the inside ever gave me much color about him. But ...

    Mark Tibergien with his uber-millennial interviewer, Min Zhang, who got an answer to the question of how long he plans to stick around.

    Part of futuristic Pershing Insite 2017 is Mark Tibergien letting RIABiz know that he is intensively grooming his own successors

    The Pershing Advisor Solutions CEO came aboard in 2007 but he'll leave a much bigger, younger, more feminine, techier unit -- with more of a BNY Mellon feel to it

    June 19, 2017 — 11:12 PM UTC by Guest Columnist Min Zhang

    Brooke's Note: Bolstering RIAs' notion of Pershing as the stylistic and practical equivalent of a sensible pair of shoes, the Jersey City, N.J. custodian has long held its national conference in Hollywood, Fla., a lesser-known beachfront city up the AIA a piece from Miami ...

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    Sean Gultig: We’d love to talk to them.

    Small RIA custodians eye 400-plus RIAs who may come into play thanks to TD Ameritrade-Scottrade deal -- but with a cultivated calm

    Accepting RIA orphans is less automatic than more-the-merrier policy of RIA inclusion that traditionally held sway at TradePMR, Folio Institutional, Trust Company of America, Equity Advisor Solutions and Shareholders Service Group grow, learn and seek profits

    June 12, 2017 — 7:36 PM UTC by Janice Kirkel

    Brooke's Note: We observe the small RIA custodians with admiration and some wonder. Custody is a scale business. The smaller fry ain't got much scale! Yet the all these smaller players seem to grow and prosper. I can hardly name one that's gone out of business ...

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    Robb Baldwin: If an advisor is not meeting the expectations set out in the LOU, difficult conversations can be made much easier for both parties.

    TradePMR is making RIAs sign a promise to succeed -- to good effect

    The low-profile Gainesville, Fla. custodian is using the inked compact to motivate, make hard conversations softer and make purges of the small and stagnant practices less frequent

    May 18, 2017 — 11:47 PM UTC by Janice Kirkel

    Brooke's Note: For the past five years, the RIA business has been going bonkers over the possibilities of engineering technological solutions. Such advances wow us easily but seldom do more than make fractional advances. But other firms have quietly worked on behavioral engineering. We wrote ...

    Josh Pace: It's dramatic and there's no end in sight.

    How Joshua Pace seized his 'moment' to convince Mark Matson to shift $1-billion-plus of assets to his small RIA custodian after a 20-year tryout

    Matson Money had RIA assets with Trust Company of America as far back as 1996 but its plan to go national made the $7.6 billion RIA see the deeper beauty in the smaller player

    May 15, 2017 — 8:47 PM UTC by Brooke Southall

    Brooke's Note: It was but a detail Irwin Stein and I stumbled upon late in the reporting cycle of our article about Matson Money published last week -- that the $7.6-billion RIA was in the midst of a massive shift of its assets from ...

    Scott Smith: Schwab and Fidelty can simply decide not to compete with this arrangement.

    DFA RIAs remain in turmoil as Schwab and Fidelity ponder matching TD Ameritrade pricing deal and a key couple of basis points

    The Austin, Texas-based asset manager says its door is open for negotiation but the two big custodians in San Francisco and Boston remain mum as RIA CEOs are pressing for clarity

    May 2, 2017 — 9:32 PM UTC by Lisa Shidler

    Brooke's Note: This DFA pricing fracas is causing more RIA and custodian agita than anything I've seen since 2009 when Schwab announced it would no longer hold many alternative investments in custody for RIAs. See: After a wait, Schwab has a program for alternative assets ...

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    SSG software chief Dan Skiles makes his creative contribution to an advisor-crowdsourced painting.

    With Pershing as canvas, Dan Skiles and Peter Mangan paint a picture of a budding RIA custodian

    Shareholders Service Group has 1,500 RIA firms and counting and displayed a satisfying air of permanence at its San Diego conference

    May 1, 2017 — 4:14 PM UTC by Guest Columnist Tim Welsh

    Brooke's Note: Building up Shareholders Service Group has taken a long time. But the product of that patience may be a sort of masterpiece -- an RIA custodian that serves small firms with the same love as big ones and which doesn't compete with its RIAs. These qualities ...

    Christopher Van Slyke: That pricing is very persuasive. As fiduciaries we'd have to consider TDA the favorite.

    DFA and TD Ameritrade strike 'strategic' deal with potential to shift RIA custody power axis

    Tension in the three-way relationship between Fidelity, Dimensional Fund Advisors and the RIAs who use both vendors creates opening for Tim Hockey

    April 24, 2017 — 6:33 PM UTC by Lisa Shidler

    Brooke's Note: What happens in the RIA business when unstoppable force meets immovable object? If the force is Dimensional Fund Advisors and the immovable object is Fidelity or Schwab, DFA goes and makes a deal with a swayable TD Ameritrade. DFA knows that if RIA customers, with ...

    Benjamin Halliburton: We were scrambling.

    TD Ameritrade shocks RIAs most accustomed to its largesse with a letter, a contract and a tight deadline to sign

    The Jersey City, N.J.-based custodian tells RIAs to accept new terms on branch referrals or be terminated from the program

    April 12, 2017 — 4:08 AM UTC by Lisa Shidler

    Brooke's Note: It is hard to say whether the referrer/referree deal between discount brokers and RIAs is lopsided one way or the other. Both sides seem to make out like bandits. Often, by definition, the discount broker is off-loading an account that it ...

    Mukesh Mehta and Charles Goldman are friends who have made a point of having dinner together a few times a year.

    In poaching coup, Charles Goldman hires open-API wizard Mukesh Mehta to AssetMark from Cetera

    The legendary chief information officer headed Schwab Institutional's efforts before shepherding in TD Ameritrade's legendary open API

    March 15, 2017 — 8:09 PM UTC by Brooke Southall

    Brooke's Note: In the idyllic world of P.G. Wodehouse, the unkindest cut one member of the landed gentry can inflict on another is to steal their Anatole -- in other words, their French chef. Back to boiled cabbage and corned beef for Aunt Dahlia and ...

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