Number of Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs) employed in the U.S. 2012-2019

In 2019, there were 12,993 registered investment advisors (RIAs) working in the United States, up from 10,511 in 2012. These advisors are registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission or a securities administrator of the state in which they practice.

Why register?

Registration as an RIA gives advisors an advantage in the job market. As with any licensing process, this registration keeps other less-qualified advisors from entering the job market. This means that advisory firms that employ RIAs have an advantage because they can guarantee a level of quality based on the licensing process.

The role of financial advisors

RIAs work primarily for high-net-worth individuals. They manage the portfolios of their clients, using their knowledge to select a mix of financial instruments such as stocks or bonds that have the best outlook. An advisor with a proven track record can earn a generous fee, and many also enjoy a proportion of the profits from the portfolios they manage. However, technology threatens their role. Many investors are turning to robo-investment apps and automated advisors. These robo-advisors choose portfolios based on algorithms and therefore can offer lower fees.

Number of Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs)* employed in the United States from 2012 to 2019

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Release date

September 2019


United States

Survey time period

April 10, 2019

Supplementary notes

*Registered with the SEC (U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission).

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