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Investment Advisers

Although most people would use an "o," we purposely spell adviser with an "e" when we talk about investment advisers. That’s because the laws that govern this type of investment professional spell the title this way.

Many investment advisers are also registered financial professionals (also commonly referred to as brokers)—but these two types of investment professionals aren’t the same.

Who They Are

An investment adviser is an individual or company who’s paid for providing advice about securities to their clients. Investment advisers are not the same as financial advisors and should not be confused. The term “financial advisor” is a generic term that usually refers to a registered financial professional (or, to use the technical term, a registered representative). By contrast, the term “investment adviser” is a legal term that refers to an individual or company that’s registered as such with either the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or a state securities regulator. Common names for investment advisers include asset managers, investment counselors, investment managers, portfolio managers and wealth managers. Investment adviser representatives are individuals who work for and give advice on behalf of registered investment advisers.

Who Regulates Them

The SEC regulates investment advisers who manage $110 million or more in client assets, while state securities regulators have jurisdiction over advisers who manage up to $100 million. Advisers with less than $100 million in assets under management (AUM) must register with the state regulator for the state where the adviser has its principal place of business.

When a state-registered adviser’s AUM reach the $100 million threshold, the adviser might opt to register with the SEC—but when the adviser’s AUM exceed $110 million, they generally must register with the SEC. It’s important to find out exactly which services a professional who wears multiple hats will provide for you and what they’ll charge for their services.

You can get background information on both SEC- and state-registered investment advisers by using FINRA BrokerCheck or calling us toll-free at (800) 289-9999. You can also get background information using the SEC Action Lookup – Individuals (SALI) tool and Investment Adviser Public Disclosure database.

What They Offer

In addition to providing individually tailored investment advice, some investment advisers manage investment portfolios. Others might offer financial planning services or, if they're properly licensed, brokerage services (such as buying or selling stock or bonds)—or some combination.

Learn more about working with an investment professional.