Knowledge & Education Center

Why Work With an Investment Advisor in Lieu of a Broker-Dealer?

Cardinal Point’s John McCord looks at some of the key differences between a broker-dealer and a registered investment advisor (RIA). First, an RIA is held to the “fiduciary standard,” which legally requires the advisor to act in the best interest of clients and place client interests before his/her own, among other responsibilities. The broker-dealer model holds advisors to a less strict “suitability standard,” which requires that investments and services be merely suitable for clients. Compensation is another key difference, as the broker-dealer structure puts advisors under intense pressure to generate profits through higher revenue transactions. By working under the fiduciary standard, an RIA advisor is freer to focus on prudent investment processes and holistic strategies that meet client objectives. The article closes with the importance of selecting a fiduciary advisor who utilizes a fee-only compensation model and the services of a third-party custodian.

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