One thing we've learned from nearly 25 years of serving RIAs is that size does not determine the complexity of a firm's needs. Each RIA is unique and faces its own set of challenges and opportunities.
Unfortunately, some big-name RIA custodians seem to conflate size with need and only offer their most robust service to the largest RIAs they serve. You may be relegated to a lower service tier if your firm isn't in the top percentile in AUM.
These lower service tiers can create significant issues for growing firms that need service and support.
Service Tiers – What to Expect
For advisory firms in the highest percentile of AUM, service from big-name RIA custodians may be solid. They may get the attention and assistance they need to support their nationwide practices.
For other RIAs, even those with multi-billion-dollar AUMs, tiered service from a custodial service provider could mean a few different things:
- Automation in Place of Service
- Even for RIAs that have built sizeable businesses, big-name RIA custodians may consider their firms too small to get genuine service. Instead, these firms may be encouraged to leverage automated service alternatives like complicated online resources or chatbots that could take too long to respond.
- Dedicated Support vs. Call Center
- While exceedingly high AUM RIAs may have access to real support from real people, smaller firms may be forced to call into a call center with their questions. This call center support could be further complicated with long hold times, a confusing phone menu, or support representatives that don't understand the advisor's business or their questions. Long story short – they don't know your firm beyond what is on the screen in front of them.
- Support with Less Training
- If a smaller RIA does have access to dedicated support personnel, the support team members working with those RIAs may be newer or have had less training. Big-name custodians may assign their most experienced team members to handle the larger firms that they have decided are the true VIPs.
Every RIA faces challenges. Even with the smoothest operations and strongest teams, RIAs can't handle every speed bump alone.
Advisors should ensure that their custodial service provider offers the high-touch support they deserve. Support that will help them navigate challenges and seize opportunities.
TradePMR's Approach – Strong Support for Every RIA
At TradePMR, there are no tiered service levels. Every RIA has access to TradePMR's dedicated support team to help them manage their firm and achieve substantial growth.
That support starts from day 1 with the Transitions team.
Once an RIA signs on with TradePMR, the firm's Transitions team gets to work. The Transitions team works hand-in-hand with RIAs to ensure all client data and forms are accurately transferred to the TradePMR platform. The group helps RIAs to set their transition timeline, establish individual and team goals for the transition, and ultimately complete the move.
When RIAs are fully onboarded to TradePMR, they start working with dedicated support personnel within TradePMR's Advisor Services department for day-to-day needs. For more in-depth requests, advisors and their teams can also connect directly with the operational team members across departments, including Trading, Transfers, Accounts, and Cashiering.
TradePMR's approach to support prioritizes transparency. RIAs know who is tackling their requests, how to contact that department (and individual), and when they can expect an update.
Every firm is different, and size does not determine complexity. TradePMR's team invests the time to learn about each RIA that works with the provider – their position in the market, their goals, and how they serve their clients. By understanding their business, TradePMR's support team believes it can deliver service that will move the needle and help address their challenges.
Approaching a Custodian Merger? Your Tier Could Change
RIAs whose custodian is undergoing a merger could be in for a rude awakening. Even if service has been solid with their current provider, transitioning to a new RIA custodian through a merger could mean a change in service tier.
This change in service tier could mean more limited access to genuine support, which could negatively impact your clients.
Before going through a potentially messy merger, RIAs should take the time to figure out what service they'll be receiving with their new provider. All is well if the service continues to meet the team's needs. If the service changes and could create barriers to support, it may be time to look elsewhere.
We should talk if you'd be interested in learning more about TradePMR's approach to service and how the firm supports RIAs nationwide. We could dive into your unique business and what TradePMR's team could do for your firm.