When setting up a new RIA firm, should advisors use template services or professional compliance teams?

Launching your own registered investment adviser (RIA) firm is an exciting, but complicated, new chapter in your career as a financial professional. From drafting the ADV to communicating with regulators, registering a new RIA firm can be an overwhelming task. Although online document template services are cheap and simple to use, those services don’t come without their drawbacks. 

This past November, the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) found six areas of “notable deficiencies or weaknesses” in current RIA compliance procedures including, “off-the-shelf or incomplete policies and a lack of properly tailored policies and procedures.” The OCIE warned RIAs to review their firm’s compliance programs and practices in detail due to “inaccurate” rules and regulations. In other words, it’s easier than ever for advisors to make a mistake with their regulatory filings, opening the door to problematic audits from the SEC or state regulators like deficiency letters, fines, and even required remedial action. 

Additionally, many online template services don’t provide personalized support for advisors. For example, one of the most difficult steps in establishing an RIA is structuring the firm’s policies, not only to suit the advisor’s business needs, but also to meet compliance requirements and SEC and state regulations. 

It’s for this reason that, at AdvisorLaw, we believe it’s better to have a lawyer on your side, not a login. Our RIA Services team consists of credentialed compliance analysts and experienced industry attorneys. Not only do we maintain a constant line of communication regarding the status of your registration, we also provide context and explanations for each step of the process.

In addition to RIA setup, AdvisorLaw also provides ongoing compliance services. In both our RIA setup and ongoing compliance work, we often hear questions like: What issues do other firms have? and What do regulators like to see? 

Our experienced team can answer your questions, research needs specific to your firm, and provide guidance regarding the most common compliance issues experienced by RIA firms. As your firm grows and evolves, AdvisorLaw is there to assist you at every step of the way. 

While template services can be an appealing option, there’s nothing better than personalized attention from a compliance professional. Starting your RIA firm is a complex endeavor. AdvisorLaw’s RIA Services team is there to ensure that you don’t have to navigate the process alone. 

Courtney Raymond 
Senior Executive of RIA Services
D: 720-627-7445