As competition for clients and talent in the financial advisory business intensifies, custody and clearing firms are doing everything they can to help b/ds and RIAs stay on top of their game and navigate the path to growth.

That means they're acting more like business partners than service providers. The kinds of programs they offer has proliferated to include everything from recruiting help to technology integration to the acquisition of high-net-worth business. Some are trying to cover all the bases by providing both custody and clearing services. Suddenly these once plain-vanilla back-office firms have become indispensable for those in the advisory business. Not a moment too soon.