Are Hybrid RIAs Changing the Industry?

June 20, 2018

Are Hybrid RIAs Changing the Industry?

June 19, 2018 | Beth Glavosek | Blue Vault

In the last blog post, we talked about some differences between Independent Broker Dealers, Registered Investment Advisers, and Wirehouses, as well as the types of advisors associated with each firm.

RIAs have generally been regarded as completely different models from broker/dealers and wirehouses for providing financial products and advice. For one, RIAs uphold fiduciary standards in terms of acting in the best interest of clients before the best interests of the firm. They also are considered to be “fee-based,” that is, they are compensated based on a client’s assets under management, not by commissions.

However, that traditional divide may be changing with the advent of the Hybrid RIA. A Hybrid RIA is registered as both an RIA and a broker/dealer. As mentioned in previous posts, RIAs must register with either the Securities and Exchange Commission or their state regulators, depending on their assets under management. Broker/dealers register with FINRA. A Hybrid RIA’s dual registration allows its advisors to operate both a fee- and a commission-based practice.

This can open up new channels of business, including services tailored to high-net-worth clients seeking specific benefits in their overall wealth strategy. For example, such a client might have tax considerations that would make certain alternative investments attractive. An advisor connected with a Hybrid RIA is prepared to offer those strategies, which many times compensate in the form of upfront fees and commissions.

As one Hybrid RIA spokesperson said in a recent Financial Planning magazine article, his firm has made recent platform changes in order to retain brokerage services while aligning relationships with firm and client needs. “We have a lot of clients who are fee-based clients that are very interested in investment products that you can only get through a broker/dealer,” he says.

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