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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.


    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 ...

    0 Comments
    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 ...

    2 Comments
    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 ...

    0 Comments
    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 ...

    1 Comment
    David Canter: I am very competitive.

    Anything but sales-y, David Canter takes RIA helm at Fidelity with ambition to sell like crazy

    The Schwab alum and long-time sidekick to Bob Oros and Mike Durbin is a lawyer, consulting expert and is 'over the moon' about his new role

    March 6, 2017 — 10:56 PM UTC by Brooke Southall

    Brooke's Note: David Canter is one of the more approachable people in the RIA business -- even though he's a lawyer. But he's no back-slapping salesman and he is taking over some of the biggest sales responsibilities in the RIA realm. Fidelity's ...

    0 Comments
    Ron Fiske: I thought I’d be there the rest of my career.

    Apex Clearing adds Ron Fiske to its Pershing mafia as it plays bigger for emerging asset class -- RIA digital

    Fiske departs Envestnet to rejoin Apex CEO William Capuzzi, a former Pershing colleague, to build on Apex 'big league' success as custodian for firms like Betterment and Wealthfront

    February 8, 2017 — 10:05 PM UTC by By Lisa Shidler

    Brooke's Note: Bob Oros, Lori Hardwick and now Ron Fiske in the past two months. If you combine RIA business knowledge and the ability to play well with others in a corporate setting, you are likely to get poached. Somebody will think you are ...

    2 Comments
    Tim Hockey: There is an advice continuum with do-it-yourselfers on one end and advisor directed investors on the other. In the middle we don’t want to give them a reason to leave, so we have to offer more choices.

    Tim Hockey invites channel-conflict question before TD Ameritrade's RIAs, sets good tone at LINC conference

    New CEO plants question with his own PR interrogator, relieving tension, albeit with a stock answer, and allowing a successful event to unfold

    February 6, 2017 — 6:22 PM UTC by Guest Columnist Tim Welsh

    Brooke's Note: Our Robin Reilly was supposed to be in San Diego to help write but she got struck down by the flu. Fortunately for us, Tim Welsh, in early-season form, has flown so many miles that no amount of recycled Southwest Airlines air ...

    0 Comments
    Tim Hockey: I understand why advisors might be nervous about that.

    New TD Ameritrade CEO, fresh from bank, will 'reassess' putting TD brand on products and redefining open architecture

    Tim Hockey, poised to meet advisors in San Diego next week, allows that RIA business is a 'real gem' but may also be priming the pump to put more proprietary products on the shelves at 600 TD and Scottrade branches

    January 26, 2017 — 11:05 PM UTC by Janice Kirkel

    Brooke's Note:  Banks often make their wealth management profits the old-fashioned way -- by steering clients to their own products. In Canada, which doesn't really have an RIA model, God knows what they do. So it's a little concerning when new TD Ameritrade CEO Tim Hockey ...

    1 Comment
    Fidelity can only offer so much to a Gen X talent like Bob Oros

    Fidelity begins search for new RIA national sales manager as Bob Oros goes millennial, vacating a prized position

    The kids pioneered the mindset but now the Oroses of the world grab quality-of-work, make-a-difference opportunities that their experience allows them to command

    January 14, 2017 — 1:51 AM UTC by Brooke Southall

    Brooke's Note: Since we wrote this article, we found out where Bob Oros landed. See: How a very Schwabian picture forms as Bob Oros joins John Clendening 

    Bob Oros occupies a sweet spot in the RIA ecosystem.

    For a few more days, anyway ...

    5 Comments
    Peter Mallouk owns a $21-billion RIA already growing with organic ferocity. Then Tony Robbins shows up and whoosh.

    The 10 RIABiz stories advisors connected with most deeply in 2016 and how hubris and humility ran amok in this didn't-see-it-coming year

    How did Aequitas swamp CONCERT? Power outages at LPL, Cetera and Wealthfront? Adolescent robo problems? And was that Tony Robbins hawking his money book ... again?

    December 28, 2016 — 5:54 PM UTC by Dina Hampton

    Brooke's Note: Choosing which articles were of greatest interest to RIABiz readers in 2016 was easy because a Google robot  measures the final results of your reading output.  We then refresh your human memory about why the story was so irrestistible at the time. Big ...

    2 Comments
    Mike Durbin didn't know he'd end up as the eMoney CEO when he agreed to oversee its onboarding.

    Mike Durbin takes new RIA+ job at Fidelity after an unlooked-for two-year eMoney mission concludes

    After Abby Johnson had former RIA chief troubleshoot $250-million purchase, he comes back to stock shelves with robo and alt goodies

    December 8, 2016 — 12:08 AM UTC by Brooke Southall

    Brooke's Note: "Product" is almost a dirty word in the RIA business. It connotes something inert and laden with fees. Not a pretty picture. But products in the financial services realm are evolving and Fidelity suggests that is a reason why Mike Durbin ended up ...

    0 Comments
    Craig Gordon: I have seen significant advancements and a huge commitment by RBC.

    Once RBC's RIA face, Craig Gordon returns to the Minneapolis-based custodian psyched about City National purchase and NextCapital deal

    Gordon is betting his career on the premise that RBC has gotten its act together in the two years he was away

    November 28, 2016 — 8:58 PM UTC by Sarah O’Brien

    Brooke's Note: RBC has gone hot and cold on RIA custody business. Its interest seemed to reach a zenith in 2010 when it bought the old RIA custody unit of Bear Stearns from J.P. Morgan. Royal Bank of Canada is hustling to become an ...

    0 Comments
    If Ron Carson were to leave LPL, it would be in keeping with his talk about being the disrupter rather than the disruptee.

    Almost-confirmed reports had Ron Carson bolting LPL for Cetera as part of a $35-million shake-up of his RIA; 92 hours later the silence is deafening

    The $2.6-billion AUM defection by the LPL rep icon was widely reported, tacitly confirmed, then unconfirmed and remains in a cone of silence

    November 21, 2016 — 11:56 PM UTC by Janice Kirkel

    Brooke's Note: It is not unusual for stories to be leaked to those of us who cover the RIA and IBD beats. Typically, however, the tipster chooses one publication to bestow his or her inside information upon. In this case, however, the leaking was widespread. A whole ...

    0 Comments
    Citi's Bill Katz spoke out Thursday to quell rumors about Schwab buying LPL, but only with soft logic.

    Why the LPL-Schwab merger rumor making the rounds makes more sense the harder you look

    The Boston- and San Francisco-based companies each lead independent channels and redundancies are scarce

    November 18, 2016 — 1:15 AM UTC by Brooke Southall

    LPL Financial's shares leapt higher yet again Thursday to finish above $40, up from about $31 as recently as Nov. 3.

    This time, it had Chuck to thank.

    The Charles Schwab Corp. is the latest company rumored to be in the mix as a buyer ...

    1 Comment