RIA Application

SEC Registered Investment Adviser
State Registered Investment Adviser

Expert Guidance

More than just filling in forms.
Invest in your legacy.

  • SEC or state regulation?

    Generally, what determines who will regulate an investment adviser is the amount of assets under management. If assets under management are $100 million or more, that adviser with file an RIA application with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (the SEC). Those with less than $100 million under management will register with their respective state regulator. There are some exceptions. For example, one way to file for registration with the SEC if the adviser has under $100 million in assets is if it has an affiliate that is already registered with the SEC. Another exception exists for those with close to $100 million in assets who expect to reach that threshold within 120 days of approval.

  • Registration process

    The initial step in registering an investment adviser is a consultation with a FirstMark expert about your goals and objectives. FirstMark will guide you through every step of the process. Here are some key elements of the application process:

      • Prospective entity name search and reservation
      • Corporate entity formation (e.g. LLC, corporation, etc.)*
      • Determining the appropriate regulator (e.g. State, SEC)
      • Preparatory interviews with key adviser parties
      • Obtain FINRA entitlements
      • Draft and submit regulatory filings (Form ADV, Parts 1, 2A, 2B, and Form U4)
      • Monitor status of application and respond to regulatory inquiries
      • Draft required compliance documents and procedures
          • Regulation SP – Privacy Policy
          • Business Continuity Plan
          • Policies and Procedures
          • Code of Ethics
      • Application Decision

    *FirstMark does not file corporations or draft corporate legal documents as part of its services.

  • Examinations

    Almost all states require that the individuals working through a registered investment adviser register as Investment Advisor Representatives. To become an IAR, individuals must file for the registration and take and pass the FINRA Series 65 examination, also called the NASAA Investment Advisors Law Examination. While it is administered by FINRA, it is a North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) exam. Candidates are given three (3) hours to complete 130 questions on the exam. You can find more information about the content of the exam on the NASAA website.

  • How long will it take?

    From the time FirstMark is engaged by the client, the overall process can take between 1 – 3 months. These time frames vary widely depending upon the regulator reviewing the application. Also, a key factor in the duration of an application is whether the applicant or its proposed personnel have a disciplinary history or significant disclosure item. These items can complicate the process and thus cause it to take considerably longer.


Today there are a many options for those who wish to create a registered investment adviser. There are many “discount” RIA registration providers offering registration services online. These services prepare and file an application for registration with either the SEC or the appropriate state regulator, depending on the amount of assets under management. They may provide compliance procedures as well. With so many providers out there, quality can vary widely. And quality can be difficult for the non-expert to assess. Problems with application quality may not be readily apparent to the client until the first regulatory examination. And with the current state of regulation, an investment adviser may not receive its first examination for 10 years or longer. So any flaws in the application may not become apparent until long after the client-consultant relationship has ended. Many prospective clients tell FirstMark the reason they are creating their own investment adviser is to create a legacy, perhaps to pass along to a family member upon retirement. For these reasons, it is critically important to utilize experts in preparing your RIA application. FirstMark only works with experts in preparing your RIA application and related documents.

ria application

In Your RIA Application, Experience Matters

When deciding to embark upon a new path, particularly a path in a highly regulated industry, experience matters. FirstMark’s experts can help you navigate the complex regulatory framework that is the path to forming your own registered investment adviser. FirstMark prepares your RIA application along with required compliance documents and procedures.