Royal Alliance Associates, Inc. is a registered investment advisor and broker-deal based out of Jersey City, N.J. Rather than working with clients directly, Royal Alliance Associates provides the investments, technology and operational support for a nationwide network of independent financial advisors who partner with the firm. Currently, nearly 2,000 employees work as advisors for Royal Alliance Associates. Advisors’ offerings depend on their specific practice, though typically include financial planning, investment management and retirement plan consulting.
The bottom line: Royal Alliance Associates is a national financial network supporting independent, local advisors who primarily work with individual investors.
|Assets under management (AUM): $20,655,365,726|
|Minimum investment: Varies by program|
|Individual investor to advisor ratio: 34:1|
|Fee structure: A percentage of AUM, hourly charges, fixed fees, other (solicitor/referral fees)|
|Headquarters: 10 Exchange Place, Suite 1410
Jersey City, NJ 07302
Phone: (800) 821-5100, ext. 5389
All information included in this profile is accurate as of September 9, 2021. For more information, please consult Royal Alliance Associates’ website.
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Royal Alliance opened in 1969 and has been operating for over 50 years. The firm provides investments, technology and operational support to independent financial advisors. The firm is a subsidiary of Advisor Group, a network of several support firms providing services for thousands of independent financial advisors. The Advisor Group is owned by a combination of investment funds and trusts.
The firm has over 3,600 employees of which roughly 1,900 work in an advisory capacity. Each advisor associated with the firm is independent and free to design their practice how they want using the resources from Royal Alliance Associates.
Royal Alliance Associates primarily works with individual investors. They make up nearly all of the firm’s clients as well as most of its assets under management. Royal Alliance Associates’ individual clients are split between those who are high net worth and non-high net worth. The SEC defines a high net worth individual as someone with at least $750,000 invested with the advisor or a total net worth of over $1.5 million.
Royal Alliance Associates offers several types of investment and financial programs, each with different minimum investment requirements. The firm’s financial planning, non-discretionary investment services and consulting services do not have an investment minimum. Others do have an investment minimum but the highest is a comparatively low $50,000 for the firm’s VISION2020 Wealth Management Platform. Also note that any third-party advisors can set their own minimum requirements.
Aside from individuals, Royal Alliance Associates also works with a range of other types of clients including retirement plans, estates, charitable organizations, trusts, corporations, banking organizations and government entities. The Royal Alliance Associates website does not list any type of individual client specialties, as its primary goal is to provide services to advisors, not to clients. The actual advisors in the network could have their own specialties but it will depend on which professional you work with.
Royal Alliance Associates runs several wealth management platforms, giving its affiliated advisors access to a number of different investment programs. Through this partnership, advisors can provide various wealth and portfolio management services to their clients. The majority of clients work with Royal Alliance Associates in a discretionary management setup, meaning the advisor has the ability to make trades on the client’s behalf. However, you could also sign up for a non-discretionary program, meaning your advisor must get your permission for each trade or you can make the trades yourself.
Besides investment management, the firm offers comprehensive financial planning as well as consulting on specific topics like budgeting, education planning and debt management. The firm also offers retirement plan consulting. For its financial advisor affiliates, Royal Alliance Associates can provide sales support, training and consulting for specialty products, such as insurance.
Since Royal Alliance Associates is also a broker-dealer, it also can process investment trades. Additionally, it offers margin loans, where you borrow to make investments; and cash loans, secured by your investment balance.
Royal Alliance Associates provides the investment tools and platforms for its affiliate advisors, but doesn’t tell them what investment strategy to use. Ultimately, the way your money will be invested depends on which advisor you sign on with.
The firm’s brochure does state that its advisors will customize their portfolio recommendations, based on a discussion of your goals and risk tolerance (which they determine by giving you a questionnaire). You can also set limits to your strategy, like requesting that certain types of investments are not used in your portfolio.
While Royal Alliance does not mandate any particular investment strategy, the firm does note that its partner advisors commonly use fundamental and technical analysis when evaluating investment opportunities. Fundamental analysis attempts to measure the fair market value of an investment, based on the company fundamentals and the industry, to try to find buying opportunities, while technical analysis looks for market trends and signals to predict future prices.
Royal Alliance has multiple investment programs, which differ based on the types of investments that could be available for your portfolio:
|Royal Alliance Associates Investment Program Options|
|Program||Minimum investment||Investment strategy|
|VISION2020 Wealth Management Platform – Advisor Managed Portfolios||$50,000||Advisors use the platform to design custom portfolios of stocks, bonds, options, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds and other securities based on a client’s goals and risk tolerance.|
|VISION2020 Wealth Management Platform – Unified Managed Account Program||$5,500||Advisors use the platform to invest your money across pre-designed investment strategies, mutual funds and ETFs according to an asset allocation model.|
|Third-party advisory services||Each third party sets its own minimum||Royal Alliance advisors work in a co-advisory agreement with outside third parties. Program details depend on the third party.|
|Non-discretionary investment services||No minimum||You pay an advisor for investment and portfolio recommendations, but it’s up to you to make the trades.|
Investment management fees: For its investment management services, advisors charge a fee based on a percentage of your assets under management. You negotiate the rate with your advisor when you sign up. The fee you pay will cover both their advisory fee as well as the cost of using the Royal Alliance Associates investments. Advisors can also earn a referral/solicitor fee if you sign up for a program based on their recommendation, but you don’t hire them to manage your portfolio. However, this will generally be taken out of the advisory fee you pay, rather than being an additional cost.
Some of the firm’s programs operate on a wrap fee basis, meaning you pay one flat fee that also includes trading costs. Others work on a non-wrap fee basis, so you would also owe for the brokerage transaction charges. On top of the Royal Alliance Associates’ fees, you could also owe for the expenses of the investments themselves, like the internal fees of mutual funds and ETFs or separate charges from working with an outside third-party manager.
Non-discretionary management or standalone financial planning fees: If you sign on for a non-discretionary management program where you make your own trades or if you want standalone financial planning, the firm could either charge a fixed fee or on an hourly basis. Fixed fees typically range from $500 to $10,000 depending on the scope of the work, while hourly fees run anywhere from $50 to $300 per hour.
Retirement plan consulting fees: For retirement plan consulting, the firm may charge a fixed fee, an hourly fee or an asset-based fee.
Seminar fees: Seminars offered by the firm can carry a cost of up to $300 per attendee, though some sessions are free.
Royal Alliance Associates has four disciplinary disclosures to report, all related to the sale of different investment products. Royal Alliance Associates settled all cases by paying a fine and updating its procedures, but also did not admit wrongdoing in most of the settlements. Here are the firm’s disciplinary disclosures, listed in chronological order:
For reference, the SEC requires all registered investment advisors to report on their Form ADV filing as well as their firm brochure, any criminal charges, regulatory infractions and civil lawsuits taken against the firm and its representatives or affiliates within the last 10 years. You can view these documents and learn more about Royal Alliance Associates’ disciplinary history by visiting the firm’s IAPD page.
Royal Alliance Associates has over 900 offices throughout the U.S. Specifically, it lists locations in the following states in its Form ADV filed with the SEC:
Between an impressive selection of investment programs, low minimum investment requirements and a nationwide network of advisor partners, Royal Alliance Associates offers a lot. However, the firm doesn’t set the actual terms of a client relationship so the experience of working with the firm will depend on which affiliate advisor you sign on with, as they will determine the fees, investment strategies and overall experience.
If you are happy with what your local Royal Alliance Associates advisor has to offer, then you can feel confident that they combine the personalized service of an independent practice with tools from a nationwide network. On the other hand, this makes the process a little inconsistent. Those who want a more standardized experience may prefer working with a firm that has more set requirements, strategies and fees for their advisors.
For more help finding a local advisor, whether they are part of Royal Alliance Associates or not, check out the MagnifyMoney advisor search tool.
The “Find a Financial Advisor” links contained in this article will direct you to webpages devoted to MagnifyMoney Advisor (“MMA”). After completing a brief questionnaire, you will be matched with certain financial advisers who participate in MMA’s referral program, which may or may not include the investment advisers discussed.