Valuable Lessons from My Time Working at an RIA

Director of Client Solutions
Follow Ryan Krystopowicz

I accepted a role at a mid-sized RIA as a research analyst in 2011. Over the next four years, I had a pleasant experience learning the fundamentals of stock picking through “bottom-up” analysis. I also got to see firsthand the growth of the RIA industry and my employer’s strategy to capitalize on it.

Reflecting on my experience, I deduced five ideas and concepts that would have been extremely valuable to know during my tenure—each of which is still relevant today.

1. Take advantage of the free tools and resources at your disposal, especially from asset managers’ websites.

The democratization of research, performance attribution and fund due diligence is real. Tasks that previously required a Bloomberg Terminal to complete can now be gathered online for free.

From WisdomTree’s perspective, this includes open-architecture tools featuring our Digital Portfolio Developer

We built this tool to empower advisors to analyze their portfolio holdings of ETFs, mutual funds and stocks on demand. Additional features of this tool include stress tests, factor exposures, Monte Carlo simulations and white-labeled proposal generators for prospects.

2. Stock picking can be a giant waste of time.

From a philosophical standpoint, most independent advisors should abandon stock picking. As I’ve previously written, when it comes to stock picking, the odds of achieving success are low, it’s suboptimal and performance isn’t everything to clients.

From a firm-level standpoint, especially if trying to maximize the enterprise value, it’s a waste of resources to have a team solely focused on that.

As we’ve previously written in Four Habits of Highly Successful Advisors, as opposed to building out an internal research team, RIAs that manage less than $1 billion–$2 billion in assets are better off driving scale, efficiency and profitability by outsourcing all or some of their portfolio management function.

3. Most people want help from financial advisors in areas beyond investments.

This was the case in 2011 and is even more evident today.

A recent research study found that only a third of Americans work with a financial professional. Among those who aren’t working with an advisor, the biggest barrier they mentioned was the “perceived cost of advice.”1

Overcoming this barrier probably won’t be accomplished by picking stocks that outperform the S&P 500.

Instead, focus on where the “unadvised” needs the most help. The same study notes that those without an advisor listed retirement income planning, advice on Social Security and Medicare and developing a financial plan as the most appealing topics to get advice on.

Providing guidance on taxes came in at number four for Americans, but it’s the most appealing topic for those considered “affluent.”

4. Clients perceive advisors using third-party model portfolios positively.

As stock pickers, my previous RIA did everything in-house when it came to research and portfolio management. We believed it was the firm’s value proposition and what was expected of us by our clients and prospects.

We could not have been more wrong.

Clients embrace the use of third-party model portfolios because they represent the collective knowledge and resources of a global research team.

For example, State Street Global Advisors’ study found that 88% of investors agree that two benefits of advisors using model portfolios are (1) “my portfolio is being constructed by asset managers with more knowledge of the markets” and (2) “my advisor can focus on what really matters to me.”2

5. Adopting a models-based practice can help mitigate risks from a compliance and regulatory perspective.

Managing dozens of in-house model portfolios with dozens of the models with the best execution…documentation around stock recommendations and client suitability…

These were just a few examples of important functions that absorbed a lot of our time and energy.

Luckily, adopting a third-party models-based practice can help, and advisors over the years have agreed.

WisdomTree’s property research study found that 73% of advisors agreed that models could support regulatory requirements through the key pillars of having a strict process, investment guidelines and due diligence.3

Another State Street Global Advisors’ study found that two-thirds of outsourcers agree that model portfolios mitigate risk in a heightened fiduciary landscape. The study points out how outsourcing can potentially support a structured portfolio management framework as well as lead to more consistency in applying suitability standards to client recommendations.4 

My reflection is your opportunity.

Bringing this all together: advisors should consider the free resources at their disposal, avoid stock picking as their value proposition and focus on what really matters to individuals, keep an open mind toward utilizing third-party model portfolios and understand how models can potentially mitigate risk for your practice.

If you’re an advisor interested in learning more, fill out the contact form below.

Contact Us

To schedule an introductory call and learn more about how we can help you save time and money and help you achieve your client portfolio goals, fill out the form below or send us an email at



All correspondence with WisdomTree is considered confidential. Please see our Privacy Statement for details.

1 Everyday Wealth in America—2022 Report: The Intersection of Life and Money. An online survey conducted by Greenwald Research on behalf of Edelman Financial Engines.
2 “How Do Clients Really Feel About Model Portfolios”
3 2020 WisdomTree Model Portfolio Research Study.
4 State Street Global Advisors’ Practice Management Global Study, Advisor Productivity: Embracing Asset Allocation Models, 2019.


Important Risks Related to This Article

For financial advisors: WisdomTree Model Portfolio information is designed to be used by financial advisors solely as an educational resource, along with other potential resources advisors may consider, in providing services to their end clients. WisdomTree’s Model Portfolios and related content are for information only and are not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal, accounting, investment or financial planning advice by WisdomTree, nor should any WisdomTree Model Portfolio information be considered or relied upon as investment advice or as a recommendation from WisdomTree, including regarding the use or suitability of any WisdomTree Model Portfolio, any particular security or any particular strategy.

For retail investors: WisdomTree’s Model Portfolios are not intended to constitute investment advice or investment recommendations from WisdomTree. Your investment advisor may or may not implement WisdomTree’s Model Portfolios in your account. The performance of your account may differ from the performance shown for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to: your investment advisor, and not WisdomTree, is responsible for implementing trades in the accounts; differences in market conditions; client-imposed investment restrictions; the timing of client investments and withdrawals; fees payable; and/or other factors. WisdomTree is not responsible for determining the suitability or appropriateness of a strategy based on WisdomTree’s Model Portfolios. WisdomTree does not have investment discretion and does not place trade orders for your account. This material has been created by WisdomTree, and the information included herein has not been verified by your investment advisor and may differ from information provided by your investment advisor. WisdomTree does not undertake to provide impartial investment advice or give advice in a fiduciary capacity. Further, WisdomTree receives revenue in the form of advisory fees for our exchange-traded Funds and management fees for our collective investment trusts

Related Blogs

A Model for Success: An RIA’s Story about Leveraging Third-Party Model Portfolios


About the Contributor
Director of Client Solutions
Follow Ryan Krystopowicz

Ryan Krystopowicz joined WisdomTree in March 2016 and serves as a Product Specialist, ETF Model Portfolios. He is a leading voice in the content and commercialization of WisdomTree’s Model Portfolio Research Study & Model Adoption Center. Ryan also contributes to the commercial success of WisdomTree’s Model Portfolio offerings by supporting Distribution and the management of host platforms. His passion for third-party model portfolios and investment outsourcing was cultivated during his tenure at a Registered Investment Advisor where he took on a variety of roles within research and operations. Ryan received a degree from Loyola University of Maryland and is a CFA charterholder.