Independent Firms vs. Captive Firms: Comparing For Your Financial Advising Career

« Back to Learning Center

A career in financial advising comes with a lot of choices.

A lot.

With so many choices to make, it can be overwhelming to know which areas to evaluate in finding the right firm for you.

Here at Consolidated Planning, our unique environment allows financial advisors to experience practice building growth. We’ve built a supportive infrastructure that allows you to focus on your unique abilities while expanding your capabilities through strategic alliances with our planning, marketing, and practice management resources.

One of the decisions you will likely make in your career path is whether you want to align with an independent firm, captive firm, or somewhere in the middle. Each path has their nuances, and while neither is necessarily better than the other, it’s important to understand the ways in which this alignment will impact your career.

What Is An Independent Firm?

A purely independent firm has no obligation to sell any specific products or services. You essentially have the freedom to pick and choose from a variety of financial products and services from varying providers. Hence the name, independent.

Since there are no proprietary products manufactured and sold, there is no expectation to use and sell certain products. 

As an advisor at an independent firm, you will focus on matching your customers with the right products without regard to anything else. Being independent allows you to provide:

  • Unbiased advice
  • Vast solutions
  • Greater transparency

Depending on the firm you choose, it’s possible there are a few “house” or proprietary products.  Those could be ‘Rep as PM’ investment choices, funds, insurance solutions, or more. 

The question is, are you required to utilize those products?  If so, it’s hard to say you’re independent. 

The planning philosophy at Consolidated Planning, focuses on products following a strategy. A client engagement will never begin with a certain product(s) in mind, without first fully understanding the client’s needs, wants, and goals when it comes to their insurance and investments.

With access to a wide range of financial products from various providers, you can feel confident that you can identify the best solutions for your clients with far less limitations.

New call-to-action

What Is A Captive Firm?

Speaking of limitations, depending on who you ask, a captive firm may make advisors feel limited in their offerings. 

Advisors with a captive firm are generally limited to products manufactured by their house firm. While they may be good products, nonetheless, they are the only products you can choose from.

As an advisor with a captive firm, you may develop extensive and specialized knowledge in those products and services as they are the primary (and sometimes only) focus available to you and your clients. Being aligned with a captive firm allows you to:

  • Develop product familiarity
  • Have clear and shortened sales process (versus a long and possibly elaborate planning process)

Is Independent Or Captive Right For Your Financial Advising Career?

The truth is, most firms are somewhere in the middle of independent and captive.

Regardless of the firm you choose and what the structure of their product offerings look like, you are held to a standard to do what’s right. As a fiduciary, you are required to do the right thing and best thing for your client.

The right thing and best thing for your client.

Before you can truly choose an independent or captive firm, you must first decide what you want your career to look like:

But, if you know you’re looking for the sweet spot between independent, owning your own practice and a high level of support, Consolidated Planning might be worth evaluating for your career.

Reach out to our recruiters to learn more about the structure you will find at Consolidated Planning.

New call-to-action

2023-153618 Exp. 4/2025

Published:  April 7, 2023