Deciding to start your own RIA is a massive step to solidifying your career as a financial advisor and becoming independent. Though exciting, it can feel daunting. Of course, there are many benefits to starting your firm, like gaining control, choosing the direction you want to take your business, and larger payouts. However, when you go it alone, there can be additional demands, stress, and expenses. This is where associating with a corporate RIA comes in. A larger RIA can help you take care of the portfolio management, day-to-day operations, marketing, and even the technological infrastructure.
Fortunately, you don’t need to carve out your own path. There are blueprints in place for you to “plug and play” that will make starting your own RIA much easier. For example, at Fragasso Partners, you can benefit from their decades of experience by following their guide to independence. A large piece of this consists of resources provided to partnering advisors. When partnering with a firm, the resources you gain access to will make a world of difference and jump start the process to independence. This is also an opportunity for existing RIAs wishing to grow their practices by gaining access to crucial tools and processes.
Here are a few resources you should look for when deciding on a firm:
Technology platforms, security systems, and tech support
Technology is a critical piece of your business, and it can feel overwhelming when starting your own RIA. Gaining access to established systems and automated processes will make your job a lot easier. Look for industry-leading software with streamlined integration. Ideally, you should receive turnkey processes and software pertaining to trading, account maintenance, billing, compliance, customer relationship, and financial planning. And by associating, you’re not footing the six-figure bill for this type of technology. It’s scaled to your practice and needs.
Your client experience will be elevated by the technology as well. When you can offer them an easily accessible client portal where they can review their statements, activity, and account balances, it will make your job easier and your clients happier! Further, you must ensure your technology systems are secure and your client’s sensitive information is protected. Consider the amount of time and expense this would take if you weren’t able to access an existing system and had to purchase your own license, implement, and maintain this software. Is that really where you should be spending your time?
Marketing strategies and customizable communications
Whether you are starting your own RIA or are an existing RIA, chances are you’re reading this article because you want to grow your business and gain new clients. Although word of mouth is excellent, in this competitive market you need a consistent presence and a defined brand and value proposition. This in itself can be a full-time job, and if you don’t have the expertise, it can cost you a great deal. However, when tapping into a reputable corporate RIA, you can save yourself time and money and benefit from their marketing efforts. A great example is the marketing resources provided by Fragasso Partners. You would gain access to their multi-channel marketing strategy to attract new clients as well as streamlined communication templates for existing clients.
Codified client experience
As mentioned earlier, client experience is critical to your business, and to grow your business, you will need to provide a superior experience. This is easier when you aren’t spending your time recreating the process for each client. That said, simply answering phone calls and emails isn’t enough. You need to exceed expectations and deliver a superior customer experience to differentiate yourself from the competition. Look for a firm that will provide you with a cohesive plan to meet your clients’ emotional and financial needs throughout the journey of the client/advisor relationship. This should include every aspect from the initial discovery meeting, delivering the financial analysis, providing investment management strategies, and providing ongoing reviews. These steps are all tied to a functional outcome, and the greater the client experience, the greater your client retention record and the amount of referrals from existing clients.
Operations and compliance
Another important, but time-consuming function of your own practice is the oversight of compliance and operational tasks. A corporate RIA partner can provide an established structure for billing cycles, client data systems, and fee schedules. Compliance offerings can include established policies and procedures, along with full oversight in a proactive manner to maintain your reputation and keep you up to date with all regulatory changes. These offerings should include continuing education and certification, trade activity, and communications monitoring. This will save you a lot of headaches as you grow your business!
Financial planning software and a client portal
Financial planning software, in addition to a client portal, will make your clients happier by providing a more holistic approach to their financial future. By partnering with a firm that provides integrating financial planning software, you’ll access tools documenting key client goals, milestones, and retirement projections. As a result, this will allow you to simplify the construction of financial plans and make changes with ease. Financial planning resources can also consist of comprehensive financial planning solutions for clients and prospects such as tax, insurance, estate, cash flow management, and charitable gifting planning strategies.
Employer-sponsored retirement plans
If retirements plans are a part of your business, you can access a dedicated support team that focuses exclusively on retirement plans from a firm like Fragasso Partners. You will benefit from established relationships with high-quality retirement plan administrators and record keepers. Further, with a reputable and successful firm, you’ll access retirement plans that are designed to maximize benefits and provide retirement plan expense analysis and benchmarking.
Advisors who partner with a firm that provides resources such as these will find the process of starting their own RIA much more seamless and be able to grow their business faster and more effectively. If you’re already independent and you’re facing a hurdle for growth or you have grown frustrated with a lack of support or administrative help, associating with a larger RIA might be the right solution for you. In either case, by partnering with the right firm, you can focus on what you do best and help others improve their financial well-being.