4 Things to Look For in a Registered Investment Advisor

Senior Finance Advisor
4 min readMar 25, 2021

A Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) is a financial firm that provides their clients with best-in-class financial advice. They are advisors who have a fiduciary duty to act in their client’s financial best interests and can help parse through a client’s individual situation to determine the best course of action.

What Is an RIA?

An RIA is a firm that is registered with federal or state agencies allowing them to provide investment advice to consumers. RIAs have stricter guidelines to follow than other financial advisors, so their level of services is often unparalleled when making comparisons. RIAs may be different from other financial advisors for the following:

  • They are fiduciaries. Those who have been distinguished as a fiduciary have the moral obligation to act in the best financial interest of those who they are representing. They cannot offer products for commission that may only benefit them. Some financial advisors work on a commission based on products sold, that don’t necessarily benefit the client.
  • They are registered with the SEC. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and other state regulators are there to ensure that RIAs are holding up their fiduciary promise.
  • RIAs are not just for investments. While RIAs are experts in investment advice, they can offer financial planning services that include retirement planning, estate planning, insurance, college saving plans, and more.

What should I look for in a good Registered Investment Advisor?

Though RIAs are held to higher standards than other financial planners, you may find yourself wondering who to go with. Not all RIAs are created equal. And, because you will most likely be working with your RIA for years to come, it’s important to find the right one that suits your needs.

Their fee structure

While RIAs typically will charge their clients annual fees that are a percentage of the assets they manage, there are other fee types that are becoming more common. Some advisors can also work on an hourly or project-based fee, while others work on a retainer or a fee based on assets. When you are meeting with an RIA for an initial consultation, ask them what type of fee structure will work best for you and your needs. Some RIAs will not offer alternative pricing models, so it’s essential you know how much you will be expected to pay.

What your relationship will look like

How much access do you want to have with your advisor? It’s important to know how often you’ll meet if they are available to take your phone calls or questions outside of appointments, and more. Just like any relationship, it’s important to understand expectations and that what you want lines up with the services they are offering.

Their asset allocation philosophy

A diversified portfolio is often essential to investment success. Make sure that your RIA isn’t going to pick just large company stocks. Instead, your advisor should look both internationally and domestically, with a variety of different-sized companies to help diversify your portfolio.

What they specialize in and how many clients they are currently working with

Financial advisors, RIAs or otherwise, often have specialty fields that they are experts in. Learn what their specialty is and how it correlates to your situation. Some advisors prefer to work with a certain age group, like baby boomers or Gen X, while others like to focus on the younger generations and help set them up for decades to come. Likewise, some advisors will be experts in retirement planning, but may not be the person to go to when it comes to estate planning. Asking these questions ahead of time will help you understand if this relationship will be a good fit.

Finally, asking how many clients that they are working with can provide you with insights that your advisor may not be forthright with. This is an important question to ask because you’ll be able to get a better idea of how much time they have to work on your financial plan, as well as understanding how personalized their services are. The more clients that an RIA has, the less time that they will have to customize your financial plans.

RIAs may help to secure you a better financial future

There’s never guarantees when it comes to investments. Putting any money into the market is always a risk that you should be aware of. But, not all financial advisors are created equal. RIAs are experts in their field and are held to higher standards than some of their peers, focusing on their client’s best interests. If you are looking to work with an RIA, contact Senior Finance Advisor to connect with an advisor who is suited to your individual needs.

Originally published at https://www.seniorfinanceadvisor.com.



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