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Important Resources Every RIA Should Consider


Managing an independent RIA firm can be challenging on many levels. If you’re making the transition to your own practice or are looking for ways to streamline operations and increase efficiency for an existing firm, having the right tools can help. Tapping into RIA resources can make managing your advisory firm easier while enabling you to scale at a comfortable pace.

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RIA Resources for Transitioning Advisors

There’s quite a bit that goes into starting a financial advisor business. You’ll need to meet SEC registration requirements, obtain necessary licenses, choose an RIA custodian and build out your tech stack. You might find these resources helpful as you map out the initial phase of starting an advisory business.

  • SEC registration. RIAs must meet certain requirements to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission. For instance, you’ll need to hold an appropriate securities license and complete Form ADV. Learn how to register an RIA, which documentation you’ll need to complete, and how long the process typically takes.
  • State registration resources. If you manage less than $100 million in assets, you may register at the state level rather than the SEC. The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) maintains a clickable map with links to registration agencies for each state.
  • Series 65 exam resources. The Series 65 exam is a requirement for RIA registration. FINRA offers a wealth of information on how to register for the exam and what it entails. You can also explore the success rate for Series 65 exam takers and how to pass.
  • RIA custodians. When launching a new RIA, you’ll need to choose a custodian to hold client assets. Learn how to choose an RIA custodian and what functions they’re meant to perform in your business.
  • RIA insurance. RIAs are not required by the SEC to purchase errors and omissions insurance, though it’s strongly recommended that they do so. This type of insurance can protect your new business against liability claims relating to misrepresentation, negligence, or malpractice.
  • RIA compliance. One of your most important duties as an RIA is ensuring compliance with all regulatory requirements. This guide breaks down RIA compliance requirements and essential strategies for meeting them.

Tech Resources for RIAs

An advisor researching tech tools and other RIA resources for their RIA firm.

Utilizing tech tools can save time and money as you launch or grow your RIA business. Here are some of the resources you may consider adding to your tech stack.

  • Customer relationship management (CRM) software. The right CRM software can make onboarding new clients and scaling your practice easier if you’re able to securely collect and store organization in one place while automating time-consuming tasks.
  • Visualizer tools. Portfolio visualizer tools allow you to create visualizations for clients to help them better understand potential outcomes when making investment decisions. You may utilize an independent visualizer tool or have access to one in your financial planning or investment management software program.
  • Financial planning software. Financial planning software is designed to help you create comprehensive, holistic plans for managing client assets. You may use financial planning software alongside investment/portfolio management software and estate planning software to formulate financial plans.
  • Compliance software. As mentioned, compliance is central to how you operate your firm. Digital compliance solutions can help keep your firm on track and up to date with the latest regulatory guidelines.

RIA Resources to Scale Your Business

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What Is Needed to Start an RIA?

You’ll need to have the required securities licenses and register with the SEC or the appropriate state agency to start an RIA. You’ll also need to obtain any business licensing your state requires, as well as taxpayer identification numbers. Starting an RIA also requires capital to cover initial costs and ongoing expenses as you work toward profitability.

How Much Does It Cost to Start an RIA Business?

RIA startup costs can vary based on your registration status, whether you need to obtain additional licenses and how you plan to operate. It’s possible to start a smaller RIA for under $10,000, but it may take a larger amount of capital to get your operation up and running if you plan to hire multiple employees, invest a significant amount in advertising or lease premium space for operations.

How Do I Grow My RIA Business?

There are diverse ways to grow an RIA business. Marketing is critical but you may also rely on referrals from existing clients to attract new ones. Using an online marketing platform for financial advisors can be a cost- and time-efficient way to generate leads that grow your business.

How Hard Is It to Start an RIA?

Starting an RIA requires a certain degree of planning and patience as there are numerous requirements to meet for registration. You’ll also need to consider how your business will operate and whether it’ll just be you initially or if you plan to hire employees. Talking to other RIAs who have gone independent can give you a better idea of what to expect.

Bottom Line

An advisor using RIA resources during the onboarding process for new clients.

Having a go-to list of RIA resources can be a huge help when you’re trying to start a new firm or grow one that you’ve already launched. The ones mentioned here are just some of the tools, guides and tips you might find useful as you position your firm for success.

Tips for Growing Your Advisory Business

  • Getting a new RIA firm off the ground requires a savvy marketing strategy that speaks to the unique pain points and needs of your target audience. If you’re struggling to craft the perfect campaign, you might consider the benefits of working with an automated marketing platform. SmartAsset AMP equips you with the tools you need to attract qualified leads and nurture campaigns automatically, without any guesswork or surprises.
  • A business bank account is another resource you’ll need when starting an RIA firm. When choosing a business bank account, consider the range of features and benefits you’d like to have access to, as well as the fees you’re willing to pay. Convenience may also be a factor in your decision if you prefer branch banking to online banking, or vice versa.

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