RIAs continue to be the preferred model for

generations to come 


December 16, 2021  |  2 min read 

By Bernie Clark, Head of Schwab Advisor Services 

To me, the end of the year has always been more about beginnings than endings. It is natural at this time of year to reflect and to give thanks for the blessings in our lives. At the same time, there is something special about the current year coming to an end and a new one taking hold. 

The fresh start of a new year allows leaders to tackle a new strategy or double-down on what’s working with renewed resolve, while they create curiosity among their teams and inspire them for the road ahead. For my team, while our priorities are many, they are all grounded in serving RIA clients better. 

Bernie quote

"The RIA space is primed for an incredible future; opportunity abounds as independent advisors work to cement their position as the preferred model for high-net-worth investors for generations to come."

Bernie Clark, head of Schwab Advisor Services
Bernie Clark, head of Schwab Advisor Services


If 2022 is anything like the ten years that preceded it, it will be welcomed with open arms by Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs). 

Reflecting on your success 

Assets managed by RIAs have tripled in the last decade.  

  • The RIA profession remains the fastest growing advised channel, growing at 12% per year. 

  • The median firm in our 2021 RIA Benchmarking Study saw assets under management (AUM) grow by nearly 15% in 2020, exceeding their annualized growth rate over the past five years. If that level of growth were to continue, the median firm will have doubled in size by 2025 and will have reached $1 Billion in AUM by 2027.  

The expectation for transparency and a fiduciary standard experience continues, and we continue to see the acceleration of brokers turning independent.  

  • In 2020, financial advisors joining the RIA profession brought $180 billion to the RIA space. 

  • Estimates show there are $54 trillion in investable assets held by individuals in the United States, and that around 60% is advised, so approximately $34 trillion. Today, RIAs collectively manage between $7-8 trillion.  

This was another record year for RIA firms, and we expect next year to follow suit.  

At Schwab, we will always strive to be the most trusted custodian and partner to our clients, doing all we can to help advisors of all shapes and sizes grow, compete and succeed. 

I believe the combination of Schwab and TD Ameritrade will result in the greatest custodial platform for independent advisors anywhere. Our Pledge is as true today as it ever has been, and Schwab will continue to champion this industry with deep commitment and expertise. 

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Sources: 2021 RIA Benchmarking Study, Cerulli & Associates, SEC ADV Filings