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How to become an RIA in Maryland

For advisors to start an RIA in Maryland, they must become familiar with the state requirements. This article will list those requirements so you’re fully prepared to launch your firm.  

Maryland requires that advisors living in the state, soliciting their services, or managing clients who are residents must register their RIAs.

If this process overwhelms you, consider hiring a compliance consultant to take this off your plate.  

Maryland requires the following:

In Maryland, advisors must have one of the following professional designations to operate in Maryland: Series 65 or Series 66 and Series 7, CFP, CFA, CIC, ChFC, or PFS.

Advisors may request a waiver from these requirements based on education and/or experience. If the RIA consists of multiple Investment Advisor Representatives (IARs), each additional advisor must submit an IAR application consisting of Form U4, proof of exam requirement and a registration fee.

Maryland requires the following forms and policies to start an RIA:

In addition to paying all the filing fees, IARs must complete the following tasks and submissions with the state: 

  • Submit FINRA Entitlement Paperwork

    To file a registered investment advisor application in Maryland, an IAR must apply for an account on FINRA’s WebCRD/IARD online system. Rest assured that FINRA will not supervise or regulate the RIA. The state of Maryland only uses FINRA’s system to process RIA applications.  
  • Form ADV Part 1 (online portion)

    This is the online piece for the firm’s registration application. In Form ADV Part 1, the advisor will disclose all information related to the firm, such as ownership, business practices, clients, disciplinary events related to the advisor or its employees, and any affiliations. The advisor must check the Maryland box in Item 1 of Form ADV Part 1B. ADV Part 1 is also used to upload ADV Part 2A and ADV Part 2B.

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  • Form ADV Part 2A (paper and online)

    This is RIA’s disclosure brochure. In this brochure, an advisor will share information about the RIA’s fees, services, disciplinary disclosures, and anything related to the firm that clients should know. The state requires that Form ADV Part 2A be given to prospective and current clients, and it must be easy to read and understand. 
  • Form ADV Part 2B (paper and online)

    Form ADV Part 2B is another paper brochure usually given to clients. This brochure will have details about the advisor, including their education, employment history, potential conflicts of interest, and any disciplinary actions. Also, any Executive Officers or representatives who advise clients must also complete this form. 

    If sponsoring a wrap fee program, Appendix 1 is also required.  
  • Client Advisory Contract

    Maryland has set regulatory authority standards for client advisory contracts that the RIA must meet, so this filing ensures that. 
  • Privacy Policy Statement 

    The Privacy Policy Statement must disclose how the RIA handles, stores, and discloses client information. It must be given to all clients at the start of the working relationship and every year after that. 

    While Privacy Policy Statements are uniquely created for each RIA, the statement must still meet the state of Maryland’s compliance requirements.
  • Policies and Procedures Manual

    This serves as the RIA’s internal guide to maintain and uphold the RIA’s processes and procedures. Everything should be included, from how the RIA handles client complaints to training new IARs. It should also have information on Anti-Insider Trading plans, Business Continuity, Anti-Money Laundering, and Information Security.
  • Balance Sheet

    For RIAs with custody, a copy of the most balance sheet is also required.
  • Code of Ethics

    Maryland has fiduciary standards that every RIA is required to meet, and this filing will ensure that. 


Starting an RIA doesn’t have to be overwhelming with the right resources, such as our comprehensive RIA launch kit.

At Altruist, we strive to make independent financial advice better, more accessible, and more affordable. Our platform gives back precious time and capital to RIAs, so you can focus on what matters most: your clients and business.

On one intuitive, integrated platform, advisors can open and fund accounts, trade and rebalance, report, and bill, at a fraction of today’s edging-ever-higher technology costs. 

Our dedicated customer support team is here to help advisors that are planning to make the leap from their wirehouse. Our team will help ensure a smooth transition with exceptional ongoing service.

To see how we’re helping RIAs streamline operations, reduce overhead, and elevate the client experience, book a call with one of our transitional specialists now.

*Altruist and its affiliates do not provide legal advice, so it’s important to check with a qualified professional for each state’s registration requirements.

Step-by-step advice on forming your RIA
Altruist’s COO guides you toward a successful RIA launch.


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