Under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, as amended, an Investment Advisor is "any person who, for compensation, engages in the business of advising others, either directly or through publications or writings, as to the value of securities or as to the advisability of investing in, purchasing, or selling securities, or who, for compensation and as part of a regular business, issues or promulgates analysis or reports concerning securities..."

A typical Investment Advisor:

Registers either with their state or the SEC by filing Form ADV and meeting other requirements

Evaluates client's needs and risk tolerance, and advises on appropriate investments

Monitors client's portfolio. Regular performance reports may be provided

May provide other wealth management services, such as retirement, trust, tax, charitable giving, estate and financial planning services

Uses a broker/dealer and/or bank to custody assets and to settle and/or to execute trades

This registration does not mean that the person is recommended by the SEC, it simply means that they are regulated by the SEC.

In general an RIA with more than $25 million under management must register with the SEC, and those managing less than $25 million are registered at the state level.