Deciding the type of financial advisor you are is a defining moment in your career. Perhaps you’re fresh out of college, and the opportunities in the world of finance seem endless. Or maybe you’re on the market for an exciting mid-career switch.

No matter what trajectory you’re on, the age-old question for any financial advisor remains: captive or independent?

Captive advisors have more time…

Captive advisors are representatives of a single firm if you’ve managed to score a role in a brokerage giant like Vanguard or JP Morgan, congratulations! A major perk of working in a firm is manpower. Tedious administrative tasks like compiling client lists and advertising will likely be taken care of by the firm.

Time is money. As a captive advisor, you’ll have more time to do what you do best: securing deals and building long-term relationships with your clients.

… but independent advisors have more options

Captive financial advisors are only able to sell products of the firm they work for.
On the other hand, independent advisors are not bound to any company. This gives you an edge when it comes to diversity in product offerings – you’ll be able to off any combination of products that cater to your client’s best interest.

Consider the feasibility in looking for the “perfect” solution with the constraints of time. If you’re looking at a niche clientele, an independent advisory might be more suited for you.

Bigger budget translates to better products.

Captive advisors might have limited product offerings, but there are many mitigating benefits that come with a bigger firm budget.

In a 2021 survey conducted by McKinsey, it was found that 82% of executives consider product development a core competency. Firms have the budget for deep audience research and product innovation. From some perspectives, captive advisors are able to react quickly to market changes and best meet the needs of their clients.

This is also subjective to the firm you’re looking at, so remember to do thorough research into a firm’s budget allocation and best practices when considering the captive advisor route.

Digital mobility is key

With the uncertainty of the pandemic, digitalizing seems to be the buzzword of the year, and financial services are no exception.

From streamlining administrative processes and optimizing client portfolios to purchasing disruptive blockchain technologies, it was found that almost two-thirds (60%) of firms already have digital mobility efforts in place.

In terms of investing in Fintech, captive advisors will be able to rely on their firm’s budget allocation. However, captive advisors might not be able to adopt digital technologies at the same speed as independent advisors, due to the time required to implement structural changes in the company.

The basic “pros and cons” argument of captive and independent advisors is old news. It would be wise to take a step back and consider the bigger picture. Framing this pivotal career decision in the context of current industry trends, as well as your long-term goals, can go a long way in helping you make the right choice.

To learn more about the many options available for those demanding independence in providing planning solutions, visit