RIABiz

News, Vision & Voice for the Advisory Community

RIABiz

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.


    Alison Dooher: We've led the way ... and we're extending that lead.
    Alison Dooher: We've led the way ... and we're extending that lead.

    The $3.2 trillion RIA custodian tripled its tech budget, zeroed in on 'onboarding,' promoted Alison Dooher to succeed the also promoted Andrew Salesky, brought aboard Google/Amazon whiz kids and allowed some TD Ameritrade culture to seep in.

    Tuesday, August 23, 2022 – 2:00 AM by Oisin Breen

    Admin:

    Brooke's Note: I'm not sure what is more arduous -- selling an abstract service or getting sold one. Either way, both seller and sellee can agree on one thing; it is a kick in the teeth to go through such a draining psychological process only to be ...

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    Eric Clarke: Our shared clients were notified the [TDA] program would be sunset about a year ago.
    Eric Clarke: Our shared clients were notified the [TDA] program would be sunset about a year ago.

    The Westlake, Texas RIA custodian 'sunset' the 2009 Eric Clarke deal with former TDA CEO Tom Bradley that lifted both Omaha firms.

    Wednesday, August 17, 2022 – 1:24 AM by Oisin Breen

    Admin:

    Brooke's Note: For RIA lifers, it seems like yesterday when Schwab seemed to own the RIA custody business, and Advent Software owned portfolio accounting software. My San Francisco office used to be, literally, situated between the two company headquarters when Advent was based down near ...

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    Bob Veres: Several advisors have told me their relationship manager has tipped them to a Labor Day weekend deadline.
    Bob Veres: Several advisors have told me their relationship manager has tipped them to a Labor Day weekend deadline.

    Since at least February, Schwab has been running 'JumpStart' a new program to let TDA RIAs add net new assets onto the Schwab system ahead of the mass conversion of legacy assets.

    Friday, August 12, 2022 – 1:29 AM by Oisin Breen

    Admin:

    With at least a year to go before Schwab finalizes its TD Ameritrade (TDA) merger, new details are emerging about significant behind-the-scenes efforts to accommodate and appease thousands of TDA RIAs who have been left in limbo by the mega-deal.

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    David Solomon: Over the course of the next three years to five years, it will be an area that we see opportunity in.
    David Solomon: Over the course of the next three years to five years, it will be an area that we see opportunity in.

    David Solomon says resources will be 'small' for years, which leaves Folio acquisition twisting in the wind as Greg Vigrass and others leave -- amid parallel departures at its national RIA.

    Thursday, August 4, 2022 – 12:29 AM by Oisin Breen

    Admin:

    David Solomon dealt a fresh blow to RIA and investor hopes that Goldman Sachs will ride into RIA custody like a white knight for at least another three years -- maybe, more like five.

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    TD Ameritrade remains a company with an autonomous brand and management information systems .
    TD Ameritrade remains a company with an autonomous brand and management information systems .

    A 2017 Scottrade class action suit inherited from TD Ameritrade, a robo-advice disclosure settlement, and TDA merger class action have all gone poof.

    Monday, July 18, 2022 – 9:15 PM by Oisin Breen

    Admin:

    Brooke's Note: No doubt somebody with a better grasp of Excel spreadsheets and M&A than mine could assign a dollar amount for each day that passes until Charles Schwab Corp. finally completes its systems merger with TD Ameritrade (TDA). Already, presumably, the two firms are benefiting on ...

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    Stuart Silverman: 'We've got a great relationship with Fidelity... I wouldn't say anything is malicious or intentional.'
    Stuart Silverman: 'We've got a great relationship with Fidelity... I wouldn't say anything is malicious or intentional.'

    Now we know that Bluespring sprang Canter from the Boston giant and that the rollup's co-founder, Stuart Silverman, was the protagonist in the high stakes hire, and the guy who needs to make room for Canter as day-to-day chief.

    Friday, July 15, 2022 – 2:05 AM by Lisa Shidler

    Admin:

    David Canter's sudden and unexplained plan to depart Fidelity Investments created a 48 hour mystery that was only solved today (July 14) after a Fidelity client revealed it made him an offer too good to refuse.

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    David Canter was known for harmonious relations across the RIA business.
    David Canter was known for harmonious relations across the RIA business.

    Beloved by mega RIAs for high intelligence and low ego, the RIA custody chief and ex-Schwabie is moving on amid a wider company script of turnover, new job descriptions, ' and wild amounts of hiring

    Wednesday, July 13, 2022 – 1:15 AM by Lisa Shidler

    Admin:

    Brooke's Note: I'll miss David Canter in his RIA role at Fidelity. He's not a battering-ram-style leader or a dispenser of fiery quotes to journalists. Yet, as a number of sources in this story explain, he did an incredible job navigating the high self-esteem of RIAs ...

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    Rick Wurster's wide domain as a new president includes Schwab's $145-billion house RIA and now its semi-antiquated brand is being  replaced.
    Rick Wurster's wide domain as a new president includes Schwab's $145-billion house RIA and now its semi-antiquated brand is being replaced.

    The $145 billion RIA is now 'Schwab Wealth Advisory' with a new president, Rick Wurster, recently taking the RIA under his oversight and software MoneyGuidePro dialed in.

    Monday, July 11, 2022 – 8:58 PM by Oisin Breen

    Admin:

    Charles Schwab & Co. is rebranding its 20-year-old, $145-billion AUM RIA to signal to its hundreds of thousands of high-net-worth do-it-yourself clients that it has real-deal wealth management to offer.

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    Abby Johnson: 'We are not pulling back.'
    Abby Johnson: 'We are not pulling back.'

    The Boston company pledged to add the second digital token to its crypto custody service by year-end 2021, but 'complexity' stalled the project, even though a third-party solution was available.

    Thursday, June 30, 2022 – 8:40 PM by Oisin Breen

    Admin:

    Fidelity Investments -- now six months "late" adding Ethereum to its crypto custody and trading services -- is using a Fidelity-sized response to solve a very un-Fidelity-like tardiness.

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    David Botset: 'We’re committed to ... continue to make our clients the beneficiaries of our strategic focus.'
    David Botset: 'We’re committed to ... continue to make our clients the beneficiaries of our strategic focus.'

    The Westlake, Texas, super-broker is making clients 'beneficiaries' while the $7-trillion Malvern, Pa., behemoth is raising prices as both firms make strategic calculations about the future.

    Monday, June 27, 2022 – 3:26 PM by Brooke Southall

    Admin:

    Brooke's Note: Read everything and nothing into this article. Schwab needs to lower fees to compete. Vanguard needs to raise prices in some cases to compete. Both firms have good rationales for their actions when the details are plumbed. Still, it's an encapsulation of a ...

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    Ben Harrison's interest-yielding custody fee model could still take off, albeit two years later than planned.
    Ben Harrison's interest-yielding custody fee model could still take off, albeit two years later than planned.

    But offering higher yields to switch may not be enough to lure advisors, who typically keep minimal investments in cash, says one industry expert.

    Saturday, June 25, 2022 – 12:41 AM by Oisin Breen

    Admin:

    BNY Mellon Pershing is (again) courting RIAs that prefer fee-based subscription fees because the demand for higher yields on cash is growing in the current rising interest rate market.

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    Stephen Greco is taking on the RIA superpowers using mafia law to attempt to level the playing field.
    Stephen Greco is taking on the RIA superpowers using mafia law to attempt to level the playing field.

    In his latest move, the Spotlight Asset Group founder files a 'RICO' civil suit in federal court that one defendant calls 'ludicrous.'

    Tuesday, June 7, 2022 – 4:27 AM by Lisa Shidler

    Admin:

    Brooke's Note: The fastest growing schism in the financial advice business might not be the jagged line separating Wall Street brokers and Main Street RIAs. The action appears to be along the divide separating small RIAs and national RIAs -- and the RIA custodians who have to ...

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    Jessie Proudman: We’re building the right product for long-term investors as opposed to traders.
    Jessie Proudman: We’re building the right product for long-term investors as opposed to traders.

    The New York City robo-advisor closed Makara deal in March, skipped any PR, and will Betterment-ize it for Summer launch; never mind the collapse of the token market

    Tuesday, May 24, 2022 – 2:33 AM by Oisin Breen

    Admin:

    Brooke's Note: Yes there is very good news implicit in all the bad news about cryptocurrencies. If you were late to Cryptomania 1.0, you have a chance to get in near the ground floor for Cryptomania 2.0. For Betterment, that is the hoped-for silver lining to buying Makara in ...

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    Chip Roame: Wow, that is a crazy lot of people!
    Chip Roame: Wow, that is a crazy lot of people!

    Hiring 16,600 people last year just whetted the $11-trillion Boston company's appetite to make 12,000 more hires in a play to be a category killer in finance.

    Thursday, May 12, 2022 – 3:14 AM by Lisa Shidler

    Admin:

    Brooke's Note: Forget small and nimble. Again and again the big action in the RIA business is happening as the biggest firms make generational moves. Vanguard and Schwab are both showing huge grit and initiative. Vanguard is opening its playbook to compete across the board. Schwab ...

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    Since Schwab and Salesforce last reported comity, the CRM maker has come to literally tower over the former in San Francisco but they have to see eye to eye to compete with a re-energized CRM maker in Sacramento.
    Since Schwab and Salesforce last reported comity, the CRM maker has come to literally tower over the former in San Francisco but they have to see eye to eye to compete with a re-energized CRM maker in Sacramento.

    The two uneasy downtown San Francisco neighbors promise better cooperation soon for RIAs as Eric Clarke and Brian McLaughlin find common cause, and TDA RIAs get set to become Schwab RIAs in 2022.

    Friday, April 29, 2022 – 11:25 PM by Oisin Breen

    Admin:

    Brooke's Note: I am reminded every day of Salesforce as I look across San Francisco Bay from my home and see its hulking headquarters -- like something dropped in from Beijing or Dubai. Somewhere in the foreground, often blocked by a low-bank of fog, is ...

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