Help & FAQs – Becoming a Carson Partner

Answers to commonly asked questions regarding Carson Partners

Is Carson a Broker Dealer?
Carson is an RIA firm and has a limited broker dealer. All brokerage business runs through Cetera. We’ve extended our award-winning offering to other wealth management firms and advisors. Think of us as an outsource provider.

We enable advisors to outsource many of the tasks that a) they don’t do well, or b) aren’t the best use of their time (e.g. technology, marketing, M&A, compliance, investments, etc.) so they can focus on the things that matter most: serving existing clients and winning new clients.

Will I have to work with Cetera?
If you plan to do brokerage business, you must hold your license with Cetera and run all brokerage accounts through Cetera. We offer the Carson Brokerage Solution that allows advisors to sell their brokerage business and move completely to an advisory-only business.
Who does Carson custody with?
We work with TD Ameritrade and Fidelity for advisory business. Since Schwab has acquired TD Ameritrade we will soon custody with Schwab as well.
Are Carson’s investments GIPS verified?
Some of our strategies are GIPS verified (QBI, Convex).
Do I need to shut down my RIA to be a Carson Partner?
Yes, unless there is a very unique reason why you’d need to leave it open for some period of time. This is for your benefit, as both the client and advisor experience won’t be the same if you had your own RIA. The main benefit of giving up your RIA is that you are no longer singularly responsible for compliance – Carson takes over the vast majority of the compliance responsibilities.
Can we bill on assets that are not in advisory accounts (e.g., 401(k) assets)? If so, can they be connected to Orion? How is that information entered?
You can bill on assets in a retirement account or 401(k) using FeeX.

Clients log into their online portal and give permission for their advisors to manage their investment selections. Those accounts will show up on Orion statements and in the Carson Client Experience (CX). Carson CX helps our partners better connect to their clients. The digital experience seamlessly connects to the in-person experience.

Are we required to use Carson’s investment strategies?

Yes. Our team of investment professionals and Chartered Financial Analysts on staff are solely responsible for investing – they don’t have client responsibilities or have to manage a business. It’s hard for an advisor to grow their business and also compete with those who are managing investments and doing research full time. With Carson, you are able to focus on serving your clients and growing your business. Learn more about Carson’s investment experience.

How is the fee reflected and billed to clients?

Fees are billed quarterly through advisory accounts at TDA and Fidelity.

Are fees charged in advance or arrears?

Quarterly fee billings are done in advance on period end market values.

Is e-signature used and for what types of forms are allowed?

Yes, e-signatures are used and allowed on forms such as account applications and agreements.

What does the audit process look like?
All partner offices are subject to internal audits from both CWM, LLC and Cetera, if the office will be affiliated with Cetera. 

  • → Eight weeks before your review date, we’ll confirm the in-person or virtual audit date. You’ll receive an announcement letter and questionnaire. We upload ADV 2Bs via Egnyte, our secure file sharing software.
  • → This is contingent on approval from CWM, LLC and Cetera (if your office will be affiliated with Cetera). If you want to share, there is some due diligence needed in order to affirm that client privacy is in place.
    Four weeks before your review date, our compliance analyst runs supervision reports and work with operations stakeholders
  • → Two weeks before your review date, you send in the questionnaire
  • → On the day of your review date, we review discussion items found through the remote audit and complete the onsite checklist
  • → After your review date, we send you a post-audit review letter with a response required within 30 days as noted in the letter
How does trading work? Will Trading know what to sell, or am I responsible for instructing trading on what assets are needed to sell?

Advisors will submit trade requests through the Carson internal processes when they want to buy in, change a strategy, or when they need to request cash.  The Carson Trading team will create the required trades based on the strategy selected and execute the orders at the custodian.  When the Investment Manager makes changes to the strategy allocations, the Trading team will place those trades for all accounts in the strategy and no action needed from the advisor.  

What type of marketing support is provided for campaigns, websites, events, etc.?

Carson Marketing creates an annual marketing plan that defines deliverables such as survey tools, ads, website enhancements, campaigns, event support, a content calendar, and more. If partners wish to create custom campaigns or content outside of the plan, they can reference the marketing menu of services to determine how they can leverage the marketing team for support or which third party vendors and platforms are approved for use.

Are there minimums to partner?

No, but ~$50M or more in advisory assets is required to be a standalone partner.

Can an advisor of any size operate out of their own office location?

We require minimums for advisors to have separate office locations. This goes for both advisors joining Carson directly, and for advisors joining with an existing Carson Partner. There are exceptions to the rule, but we require strategic rationale for the exception.

When transferring data from Orion, how far back does the performance history go?

The performance history goes as far as the performance history that Orion has in their system.

Does Carson support all designations?

All designations are subject to review and approval from CWM, LLC and Cetera (if your office will be affiliated with Cetera), to ensure they are not misleading and fall in line with State of Nebraska guidance as it pertains to advertising of designations, i.e., email signature block, business card, website, etc.. Most common designations are already approved by CWM, LLC and Cetera, especially if they are accredited (ex. CFP).

Does Carson offer transition assistance in the form of forgivable notes?

This is reviewed on a case by case basis.

What does the training look like for a new partner?

Step 1: Training Needs Analysis –  Early on in the 10-week transformation prep period, we conduct phone interviews with the new partner office to learn about:

  • → Your stakeholders – what each person in the office is responsible for on a daily basis.
  • → Technology usage – how you use your current CRM and other technology in the office.
  • → Operational procedures – do you track workflows in your CRM?

Step 2: Custom Training Plan – We take what we learn from the needs analysis and put together a custom training plan for your office. The plan summarizes what we plan to train on, who will be trained on each topic and the timing of the training sessions.

Step 3: Training Plan Execution – We split up the actual training of an office in three phases to ensure we train on the most relevant topics based on how and when you use our systems.

  • Phase 1 – A series of sessions are provided throughout the 10-week transformation prep period via webinar
    • → Billing
    • → Strategy education and mapping
    • → Form completion
    • → Custodial training
  • Phase 2 – Two weeks before going live with Carson, we provide training through a series of webinars on the tools you use most during transformation.
    • → Basic contact management
    • → Viewing financial account data
    • → Using cases to track new account opening and the overall transformation
    • → Trading
    • → Cashiering needs
    • → Granting clients online access             
  • Phase 3 – As your transformation begins to slow down, we start to introduce new tools on our tech platforms. This usually takes place two to three months after your go-live date and is facilitated via webinar or live office visit.
    • → Prospecting tools
    • → Digital allocation tool
    • → Gameplan
    • → Advanced reports and dashboards
What is including the Tech Stack that is covered by Carson?

The following is included in our tech stack with custom development:, Orion, eMoney, Egnyte, MyRepChat, Holistplan and Smarsh.

Are there different ways to partner?

Yes, you can join Carson directly or partner with an existing office. We also do minority acquisitions for firms of certain size, scale and qualifications. If you’re looking to sell in the near term, merging with or selling to a Carson partner is your best option. Learn more about our M&A and succession planning solutions here.

Additionally, there are different levels of partnership:

  1. → RIA and BD – the office is registered under our RIA and is affiliated with Cetera
  2. → RIA Only – the office is registered under our RIA and has no affiliation with Cetera
  3. →Subadvisor – the office has their own RIA and works with Carson Wealth only for strategies and does not use our technology.


What type of M&A support is offered through the partnership?

Carson has a dedicated Mergers & Acquisitions team that helps sellers and buyers explore their options for no additional fee. If you are looking to sell or in need of a succession plan, our M&A team works with you to understand your options and can even facilitate things for both internal transitions of equity/sales and external sales.

If you are a buyer, our M&A team acts as your M&A team. They help with evaluating, structuring and negotiating M&A deals on your behalf, and even facilitate lending solutions, although Carson does not finance transactions directly.

Is Carson Coaching included with Partnership?

If you are not already part of the Executive Business Coaching program when you join, we do not assign a Carson Coach. You work with your Business Consultant who might engage a Carson Coach on specific occasions.

Do I need to get OBAs approved?


Can I share office space with unaffiliated parties?

This is contingent on approval from CWM, LLC and Cetera (if your office will be affiliated with Cetera). If you want to share, there is some due diligence needed in order to affirm that client privacy is in place.