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The Checks Aren’t Always Equal: Why RIAs Should Tap Multiple Custodians for a Successful Practice

The Checks Aren’t Always Equal: Why RIAs Should Tap Multiple Custodians for a Successful Practice

Challenging economic climates often bring unforeseeable opportunities. New opportunities could, of course, help your clients maximize their potential. With the evolution of new technologies, financial products and account needs, new custodians have emerged to provide specialized services.

While you might be thinking I would advocate the use of a single custodial relationship to conduct business, prepare to be surprised. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all custodian out there. I would go even further to say any custodian that says they can service your every need merely has retention tools instead of innovative differentiators.

Not all service and product offerings are created equal. If you were to lay out offerings by custodians on a chart, a check mark in a category doesn’t really signify how comprehensive the offering is. For instance, what does a checkmark in advanced account access mean, and how are these services or products different? What does customer service mean, and what does it mean for you and your business? These “me too” offerings are purely for retention.

In my frequent conversations with advisors, they tell me they use multiple custodians because of the different needs of their clients. Some use us more than others because of their client base. It’s important to find the best-in-breed solution to best serve your client. Our Scottrade® Advisor Services RIA study revealed advisors who use more than one custodian are more likely to say their needs have been met, especially while navigating through today’s economic uncertainty.

There are several benefits to using multiple custodians:

Client options. It’s all about fiduciary responsibility. As an RIA, using multiple custodians can create a perception of confidence and safety in your clientele. Having multiple options to provide your clients in where to house their investments shows you have your clients’ best interest in mind, instead of showing partiality because a custodian is offering you a better deal.

Meeting business needs. Your needs can be fulfilled with tools and services offered by custodians – many of them at a discounted rate to help you focus on your business. This could be a benefit for breakaway brokers going independent as using multiple custodians allows the use of multiple suites and products instead of being tied to just one. Many industry-leading third-party tools and services are integrated into platforms so they can transfer data to one another seamlessly.

Marketing your practice. The brands you associate yourself with can be another tool in your toolbox. While your client is choosing you, having a reputable custodial partner can help minimize client concerns and could be a valuable marketing tool. As an example, many of our advisors leverage our 500-plus branch offices by sending clients over to deposit additional funds or for basic service requests.

There is a lot of responsibility in being a good steward of your clients’ finances. Finding the best possible investment vehicles and partners is vital to not only your clients’ success, but having them place a check next to your name as someone to recommend to others.


Brian A. Davis is Senior Vice President, Head of Scottrade® Advisor Services

TAGS: Commentary