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Why an Experienced Securities Attorney is Essential for Reviewing Registered Investment Advisor Customer Agreements

In the world of investment advisory, the relationships between Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs) and their clients are governed by a series of complex and highly detailed agreements. These documents outline everything from investment objectives to risk tolerance and time horizons, serving as the foundation for the fiduciary relationship between advisors and their clients. Ensuring these agreements are meticulously drafted and thoroughly reviewed is crucial to maintaining compliance, protecting client interests, and mitigating legal risks. This is where the expertise of an experienced securities attorney becomes indispensable.

The Role of Customer Agreements in RIA Operations

Customer agreements are the backbone of the advisory relationship. They set the terms and conditions under which an RIA provides services, defining the scope of authority, investment strategies, fee structures, and the responsibilities of both parties. Given their critical importance, these documents must be precise, clear, and comprehensive to avoid misunderstandings and potential disputes.

Key Elements of RIA Customer Agreements

  1. Investment Objectives and Risk Tolerance: Clearly articulating a client’s investment objectives and risk tolerance is essential. These elements dictate the advisory strategies and the types of investments that are appropriate for the client. An experienced securities attorney ensures that these aspects are accurately captured and legally sound, reflecting a mutual understanding between the advisor and the client.
  2. Time Horizon: The time horizon for achieving investment goals varies significantly among clients. Whether it’s short-term capital growth or long-term retirement planning, these details must be explicitly stated in the agreement. An attorney can help draft these provisions to ensure they are aligned with both regulatory requirements and client expectations.
  3. Fee Structures: Transparent disclosure of fees, including management fees, performance fees, and any other costs associated with the advisory services, is crucial. A securities attorney can help ensure that the fee structures are not only competitive and fair but also comply with applicable laws and regulations.
  4. Regulatory Compliance: RIAs operate under strict regulatory frameworks imposed by bodies such as the SEC and state regulators. Customer agreements must adhere to these regulations to avoid penalties and ensure continued operations. An experienced attorney stays abreast of the latest regulatory changes and ensures that all documents meet current standards.

The Importance of Legal Expertise in Drafting and Reviewing Agreements

Mitigating Legal Risks

One of the primary reasons for involving a securities attorney in the review of RIA customer agreements is to mitigate legal risks. Poorly drafted agreements can lead to disputes, regulatory scrutiny, and costly litigation. An attorney’s expertise helps identify and rectify potential issues before they escalate.

Ensuring Clarity and Precision

Legal documents can often be dense and difficult to understand. An experienced attorney ensures that customer agreements are written in clear, precise language, reducing the likelihood of misunderstandings. They also ensure that all necessary disclosures are made in a way that is easily comprehensible to clients.

Tailoring Agreements to Specific Client Needs

Every client is unique, and their agreements should reflect this individuality. A securities attorney can help tailor customer agreements to address specific client circumstances, ensuring that the RIA’s services are aligned with the client’s goals and needs.

The Role of a Securities Attorney in Regulatory Compliance

Compliance with regulatory requirements is a critical aspect of an RIA’s operations. Failure to comply can result in severe consequences, including fines, sanctions, and damage to the firm’s reputation. A securities attorney helps ensure that all customer agreements meet regulatory standards, providing peace of mind to both the RIA and its clients.

Keeping Up with Regulatory Changes

Regulatory environments are dynamic, with frequent changes and updates. An experienced securities attorney continuously monitors these changes and updates the necessary agreements and documents accordingly. This proactive approach helps RIAs stay ahead of regulatory requirements and avoid potential compliance issues.

Conducting Regular Compliance Reviews

Regular compliance reviews are essential to maintaining the integrity of customer agreements. A securities attorney conducts thorough reviews of existing agreements, identifying areas that may need updating or improvement. This ongoing process helps maintain compliance and ensures that the RIA’s operations are always aligned with current legal standards.

Bakhtiari & Harrison: Your Trusted Partner in Securities Law

At Bakhtiari & Harrison, we understand the complexities and nuances of the investment advisory industry. Our team of experienced securities attorneys is dedicated to providing comprehensive legal support to RIAs, ensuring that all customer agreements and related documents are meticulously reviewed and compliant with regulatory standards.

Expertise in RIA Operations

Our attorneys have extensive experience in dealing with the specific needs of Registered Investment Advisors. We understand the critical importance of accurately capturing investment objectives, risk tolerance, time horizons, and fee structures in customer agreements. Our goal is to ensure that these documents are not only legally sound but also aligned with the best interests of both the advisor and the client.

Commitment to Regulatory Compliance

Staying compliant with regulatory requirements is essential for the success and longevity of any RIA. At Bakhtiari & Harrison, we are committed to helping our clients navigate the complex regulatory landscape. Our attorneys keep abreast of the latest developments in securities law, ensuring that all customer agreements are up-to-date and fully compliant.


The importance of having an experienced securities attorney review your RIA customer agreements cannot be overstated. These documents are foundational to the advisory relationship, and their accuracy and compliance are paramount to the success of your practice. By partnering with Bakhtiari & Harrison, you gain access to a team of dedicated professionals who understand the intricacies of the investment advisory industry and are committed to protecting your interests.

For more information about how Bakhtiari & Harrison can assist with your customer agreements and ensure regulatory compliance, visit our website at Our experienced securities attorneys are here to provide the expert guidance you need to navigate the complexities of securities law and achieve your business objectives. Contact Bakhtiari & Harrison today to learn more about how we can help secure the future of your investment advisory practice.