Charles Schwab is one of the largest firms acting as a custodian for RIAs (Registered Investment Advisors). They have an educational program explaining just what an RIA is and what an RIA firm does.
Here is their definition of what an RIA is.
A registered investment advisor (RIA) is a professional advisory firm that offers personalized financial advice to its clients, many of whom are affluent.
• Many independent RIAs work with complex portfolios and address unique needs that require a highly customized level of investment management strategy and consultation.
• Many independent RIAs are owned by the individual advisors who run them.
• Many independent RIAs provide advice and services for a fee based on a percentage of the client’s assets.
• RIA firms are registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission or state securities regulators, are subject to the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, and have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of their clients.
Just thought you would like to know.