One-size-fits-all may do nicely for advisors when choosing apparel, but when choosing a broker-dealer for affiliation, advisors are better served by a range of choices. Some prefer a broker-dealer who handles everything short of actual client meetings and planning; some prefer to handle all but the most technical or tedious matters themselves; and others fall somewhere in between, craving independence in some regards and a helping hand in others.

How do the options differ? Here’s a look at three leading broker-dealers and the affiliation options they offer.

Ameriprise Financial

Advisors have three primary ways of affiliating with Ameriprise Financial, according to Manish Dave, senior vice president of business development and experienced advisor recruiting.

Ameriprise Advisor Group is the firm’s W-2 affiliation channel, while Ameriprise Independent Advisor is its independent channel in which advisors affiliate with the firm via a 1099 relationship, according to Dave. Ameriprise Financial Institutions Group allows advisors to affiliate with the firm via its partnerships with banks and credit unions across the United States, according to Dave.

Ameriprise also has a phone channel, Ameriprise Advisor Center, with advisors located in Minneapolis and Las Vegas, according to Dave.

Which channel an advisor chooses “all goes back to what their vision is for their business,” Dave says.

Having multiple affiliation models also “serves as a check and balance” for Ameriprise, according to Dave.

If our W-2 model is not as flexible or doesn’t promote the entrepreneurial spirit of advisors then our advisors would migrate to our independent system and vice-versa. It makes us a stronger firm, and we prefer that to other business models where they have a one-channel approach,” he says.

Ameriprise had 10,245 advisors as of the quarter that ended June 30. The head count includes 2,096 employee, or W-2 advisors, and 8,149 franchisee, or 1099, advisors, a company spokesperson confirmed.

LPL Financial

Advisors can choose from among six options at LPL Financial, according to executive vice president of business lines strategy Gary Carrai.

LPL’s corporate advisors affiliate with the firm under a shared Form ADV, and the firm also offers W-2 and 1099 models, Carrai says.

The W-2 model is called Linsco and allows advisors to have their own brand, according to Carrai.

“They’re operating effectively like an independent advisor,” he says.

Linsco was launched in 2019 with the closing of LPL’s acquisition of Allen & Company, according to an LPL spokesperson.

The 1099 model, Strategic Wealth, launched in 2020, according to an LPL spokesperson. It is aimed at advisors who are breaking away from wirehouses, per LPL’s website.

Strategic Wealth is “thought of as supported independence,” Carrai says. In this model, LPL provides advisors support such as marketing and technology, according to Carrai.

LPL also offers a registered investment advisor option in which the advisor doesn’t have a brokerage business but leverages LPL as a custodian and wealth management partner, according to Carrai.

“We’re not providing any type of support on brokerage, but we’re a home for them to support their advisory business,” he says.

The firm also offers a hybrid option in which the advisor does have a brokerage business while operating as an RIA, according to Carrai. For advisors who operate under the hybrid option, LPL custodies their assets and provides risk management for their brokerage business, according to an LPL spokesperson.

“They’re the RIA, but we’re providing the support on the brokerage side,” Carrai says.

LPL believes the Linsco and Strategic Wealth channels will see increased adoption with “the more name recognition that we get in the marketplace,” according to Carrai.

The firm also pursues opportunity in the pure and hybrid RIA channels by providing capabilities beyond those of the custodians dominant in the market, Carrai says.

“We have matching capabilities and can deliver value differently than what they can — their solution is largely a custody-like solution where we can offer other wealth management capabilities, and we expect to see some acceleration as a result of that,” he says.

Another affiliation option for advisors is to join a bank or credit unit that is partnered with LPL, according to an LPL spokesperson. For example, LPL added the retail brokerage and advisory business of Bridgeport, Connecticut-based People’s United Bank to its network in August. People’s United was acquired by Buffalo, New York-based M&T Bank in April, and LPL had previously added M&T’s brokerage and advisory business in June 2021, as reported. M&T’s brokerage and advisory business represented around $22 billion, LPL said at the time.

LPL had 20,871 advisors as of the quarter that ended June 30. A company spokesperson said the firm could not provide a breakdown of advisors by channel.

Raymond James

At Raymond James, employee advisors can affiliate with Raymond James & Associates or Alex. Brown, according to Private Client Group president Scott Curtis. Alex. Brown is the name Raymond James gave to Deutsche Bank Wealth Management’s U.S. Private Client Services Unit, which it acquired in 2016.

Raymond James also has an Independent Contractors Division, under the umbrella of Raymond James Financial Services, in which independent advisors establish their own branch or business, register with Raymond James Financial Services, and operate under Raymond James’ corporate RIA or use their own independent RIA, according to Curtis.

Raymond James Financial Services also has a Financial Institutions Division, in which the advisors are employees of a bank or credit union and provide investment advice and recommendations via their affiliation with Raymond James but are employed by the financial institution, Curtis says.

Additionally, Raymond James has the ability to serve as a clearing or custody firm for third-party broker-dealers and RIA firms, according to Curtis.

Raymond James had 8,616 advisors as of the quarter that ended June 30. The advisor ranks comprise 3,615 employee advisors and 5,001 independent contractors who make up Raymond James Financial Services, a company spokesperson confirmed.