A female RIA works with two male advisors on a plan.

Understanding the RIA model

RIAs do things differently. At Schwab, we advocate for independent advisors and believe in the freedom of the RIA model. It's a good idea to get familiar with how this model differs from other financial advice models, and to understand some of the top benefits of working with an RIA.

What is an RIA?

An RIA manages the assets of affluent, often high-net-worth individuals and institutional investors.

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.

Many independent RIA firms:

  • Work with complex portfolios and address unique needs that require a highly customized level of investment management strategy and consultation
  • Are owned by the individual advisors who run them
  • Provide advice and services for a fee based on a percentage of the client’s assets

Schwab helps university students learn about the independent advisor industry. Here's what students have to say about their experience at IMPACT®.

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Seeing opportunities for your future

Interested in finding out what the RIA industry could offer you? Watch these videos from college students.


  • Video: Dan Costigan

    Watch video: Dan Costigan – University of California, Irvine

    College student Dan Costigan discusses the opportunities he sees in the RIA model.
  • Video: Lauren Eagan

    Watch video: Lauren Eagan – Loyola Marymount University

    College student Lauren Eagan expresses her surprise over the numerous career paths found in the RIA model.
  • @Home with Schwab Advisor Services

    Watch video: Cassidy Farar - Brigham Young University - Idaho

    College student Cassidy Farar shares what stands out to her about RIAs and how advisors can help drive more awareness of the profession with students.

Learn more

How does Schwab work with RIAs?

For information on Schwab and how we work to support independent advisors, begin by looking through the content here: