News, Vision & Voice for the Advisory Community


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.

    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

    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 ...


    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

    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 ...


    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

    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 ...


    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

    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 ...


    Rick Wurst: We’re able to lower the barriers to direct indexing for more investors and advisors.

    The Westlake, Texas broker-dealer and custodian of $8.5 trillion of AUA will cannibalize its own products and third-party partners but with eyes on a new value proposition.

    Friday, April 1, 2022 – 7:01 PM by Brooke Southall

    Brooke's Note: What's not to like about direct indexing? Pretty much nothing, though it still suffers from high minimums and semi-high fees. To me it seems to follow the RIA script of control moving out the chain to where the bulk of the fee leverage ...


    Michael Kitces: 'Clients paying fair fees is our fiduciary responsibility.'

    The serial 'Nerd's Eye' RIA entrepreneur didn't give an inch against LPL RIA chief, Marc Cohen, who insisted custody is about value, not fees.

    Friday, March 18, 2022 – 2:00 AM by Lisa Shidler

    Lisa's Note: I've attended dozens of conferences, webinars and other sessions in the financial services industry, and even though the epic debate between David Canter, Bernie Clark and Michael Kitces was a bust, the Kitces-Marc Cohen discussion in its place was authentically animated and open. Nothing got ...


    Maeve DuVally: We are working closely with teams across Goldman Sachs, as well as clients, to ensure that these new services align.

    The clock is ticking on the New York City investment bank's strategic imperative to strike while TD Ameritrade and Schwab merge, but Goldman may be facing similar obstacles combining with Folio Institutional.

    Wednesday, March 16, 2022 – 2:47 AM by Oisin Breen

    Brooke's Note: Since I started covering RIA custody 22 years ago, I have heard a steady refrain about how lightweight discount brokers like Fidelity, Schwab and TD Ameritrade would get picked off like Russian tanks, if the big Wall Street forces ever decided to aim ...


    LPL's Marc Cohen will discuss RIA custody fees with Michael Kitces to fill the big void left by the heads of his firms's two largest RIA custody rivals.

    In October, Canter laid down the challenge, Clark sided with him and the Nerd's Eye View publisher and RIA advocate called their bluff.

    Monday, March 14, 2022 – 2:57 AM by Lisa Shidler

    David Canter and Bernie Clark vowed to take a leading RIA advocate to the proverbial woodshed in a debate over the fees and funding of RIA custody services, but when push came to shove...they were no shows.


    Ed O'Brien: “It’s just interesting timing, quite frankly."

    The suddenness of the move caught O'Brien off-guard, but Mike Durbin has consistently said his goal is to infuse investment management with wealth management and eMoney, which O'Brien calls home, sits at that intersection.

    Thursday, March 10, 2022 – 2:27 AM by Lisa Shidler

    Brooke's Note: The way Fidelity Institutional (FI) sees it, a vast swath of RIAs and IBD reps should live on its FMAX platform where all of their money management and wealth management can flow seamlessly through one portal, with one fee and unity of purpose ...


    Rich Steinmeier (to Barron's): I don’t know that there’s a cap. I don’t. It’s not 20,000. It’s not going to be 30,000.

    Shares of the San Diego company rose almost 5% after leader reported $300 billion asset leap, high M&A retention and multi-channel wins.

    Saturday, February 5, 2022 – 2:03 AM by Brooke Southall

    LPL Financial's assets surged to $1.2 trillion, up nearly $300 billion or 34% last year, thanks to a booming market, better recruiting and better-than-expected results from the Waddell & Reed Wealth Management business acquisition.


    Larry Fink: It's just a number.

    After record AUM high, BlackRock chairman and CEO Larry Fink brushes off a milestone • SchwabSchwab hits records; Wall Street wants more • Mutual fund giant's ETF conversion yields bragging rights • Regulation Best Interest headaches unnecessary, despite SEC brouhaha, lawyers say • Workplace scheme wins big for Fidelity.

    Friday, January 21, 2022 – 3:16 AM by Oisin Breen

    BlackRock's AUM tops $10 trillion -- "It's just a number," says CEO Larry Fink with likely a nod and a wink.


    TDA is out at the college baseball world series stadium; Schwab's is in until at least 2029.

    The TDA brand lives on until the techies figure out how to make two systems into one, but change is in the air in Omaha, while Interactive Brokers gets a leg up in the custody business with a new hire.

    Monday, December 27, 2021 – 9:58 PM by Oisin Breen

    The corporate takeover is only complete when the stadium in the vanquished firm's hometown bears the name of the company swallowing it whole -- or something like that.


    Bill Capuzzi took Apex near to the zenith but the SPAC failed to deliver an IPO via blank check.

    The Dallas clearing and RIA custody company and Northern Trust Acquisition Corp II have a Texas-style, no-fault divorce after intractable delays forestall SEC blessing of the deal.

    Friday, December 17, 2021 – 2:26 AM by Oisin Breen

    Time kills all deals.


    Mike Durbin: Rohit’s experience is at that intersection of fin+tech.

    The $4.2 trillion Boston unit for 13,500 third party wealth managers got Rohit Mahna who was the financial CRM guy at the San Francisco giant

    Wednesday, December 15, 2021 – 4:02 AM by Brooke Southall

    Brooke's Note: The "institutional" businesses of Schwab, $3.5 trillion, and Fidelity, $4.2 trillion, are not to the rest of the world institutional at all. They are better described as back office support of largely independent financial advisors that serve very non-institutional investors -- namely retail investors. ...


    John Tovar: 'We are aware of some instances recently where TD Ameritrade Institutional clients have not received the level of service we pride ourselves on delivering.'

    The Westlake, Texas broker-dealer and custodian of $8 trillion of AUA is hiring at least 140 people, including 50 already signed to handle an upsurge in demand.

    Tuesday, December 14, 2021 – 1:54 AM by Oisin Breen

    Charles Schwab Corp. is taking urgent action to restore diminished service levels to RIAs with assets custodied at TD Ameritrade Institutional, which may also quell particularly raucous comments on social media.