Asset management is the practice of increasing total wealth over time by acquiring, maintaining, and trading investments that have the potential to grow in value.
Asset management has a double-barreled goal: increasing value while mitigating risk. That is, the client's tolerance for risk is the first question to be posed. A retiree living on the income from a portfolio, or a pension fund administrator overseeing retirement funds, is (or should be) risk-averse. A young person, or any adventurous person, might want to dabble in high-risk investments.


A registered investment advisor (RIA) is a firm that advises clients on securities trades or even manages their portfolios. RIAs are closely regulated and are required to register with the SEC if they manage more than $100 million in assets.

A broker is an individual or firm that acts as an intermediary for their clients, buying stocks and securities and providing custody over customer assets. Brokers generally do not have a fiduciary duty to their clients, so it is always important to thoroughly research before buying.

A financial advisor is a professional who can recommend investments to their clients, or buy and sell securities on their behalf. Financial advisors may or may not have a fiduciary duty to their clients, so it is always important to ask first. Many financial advisors specialize in a specific area, such as tax law or estate planning..

The most affordable type of investment manager isn't a person at all. A robo-advisor is a computer algorithm that automatically monitors and rebalances an investor's portfolio according, selling and buying investments according to programmed goals and risk tolerances.