Skip navigation

Mindy Diamond on Independence: Demystifying Compliance for RIAs

Christopher Winn, CEO and lead consultant, AdvisorAssist, tells financial advisors what they need to know.


There is one word in wealth management’s lexicon that draws great consternation among advisors.

And that word is “compliance.”

Yet it’s the very fabric by which financial advisory businesses operate, serving as the proverbial guardrails that all advisors work within—whether they are seated in big brokerage firms, are independent business owners or somewhere in between.

But for all that power that compliance wields, it remains somewhat amorphous in terms of the actual processes around it.

Because if you’re seated at a wirehouse or independent broker/dealer, compliance is managed for you. There’s no need for concern other than following the firm’s rules and coloring between the lines.

But what happens if you want to build an independent firm? Who manages compliance? And what is it that even needs to be done?

And those are important questions—ones that often stop advisors dead in their tracks when considering the leap to independence.

So Louis Diamond invited Chris Winn, founder and CEO of AdvisorAssist, to this episode to help demystify compliance for advisors.

Chris launched AdvisorAssist in 2006 to provide comprehensive support to elite advisory firms seeking independence and risk-managed growth.

With over 27 years of investment management industry experience and a focus on RIA formation, regulatory compliance, business transformation and operations, Chris has worked closely with some 2,000-plus firms to design, build and launch their RIAs, and manages compliance for more than 600 RIAs with $150 billion in assets.

Louis and Chris discuss the complexities around compliance, including:

  • How RIAs manage compliance—and the critical role of the chief compliance officer (CCO).
  • What the burden of risk is for an independent advisor—and how that risk differs from their wirehouse counterparts.
  • What he sees as the role of workflow in creating a compliance program—and how integrating technology, communication and other aspects of the business is key to a successful plan.
  • Why compliance for a large wirehouse firm is very different than it is for a small RIA—and how building for the “lowest common denominator” drives policy decisions for larger entities.
  • How a changing regulatory environment has impacted launching an independent business—and if he sees risk management becoming more challenging going forward.
  • Plus, Chris discusses the actual timeline and steps an advisor goes through when launching their own RIA and building out a compliance program—and how a firm like AdvisorAssist can help with managing compliance both pre- and post-launch.

As Louis and Chris share, the topic of compliance need not be scary nor limit the power of an independent business—but instead serve to enhance the ability to build an enterprise.

It’s an episode designed for prospective breakaways as well as any advisor looking to make the topic of compliance less daunting.

Listen to the podcast

Listen to more episodes of Mindy Diamond on Independence: A Podcast for Financial Advisors Considering Change.

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.