Understanding Compensation Received by Cetera Advisors


As an investor, it is important that you have a well-thought-out investment plan to help you meet your investment goals. It is also important for you to understand the sales compensation and certain other fees associated with your investments and the potential conflicts of interest Cetera Advisors LLC (“Cetera Advisors”) and your registered representative may have when offering and recommending investments to you. This document is intended to help you understand the various forms of compensation that Cetera Advisors and your representative earn when you purchase a mutual fund, variable insurance contract, 529 college savings plan, direct participation program or a non-traded real estate investment trust. These various forms of compensation create potential conflicts of interest, and it is important for you to assess potential conflicts of interest before making an investment decision.

Cetera Advisors offers a wide variety of investment products, including mutual funds, variable insurance contracts, 529 plans, and direct participation programs and non-traded real estate investment trusts. Product sponsors for these products may compensate Cetera Advisors in various amounts for marketing, selling, processing and maintaining your investments in these products and to reimburse expenses for due diligence. These product sponsors also compensate Cetera Advisors for training and educating our registered representatives, employees and investors.

These compensation arrangements are described in more detail in the prospectus and Statement of Additional Information (SAI) for each mutual fund, in variable insurance contracts, in the plan document for a 529 college savings plan, or in other documents prepared by the product sponsor.


When you purchase an investment, you will usually pay a sales charge. This sales charge may be paid at the time of purchase or the sales charge may be built into the expense of the product and/or charged to you when you sell your investment. Cetera Advisors is paid by the product issuer or its affiliates shortly after the transaction. Part of that payment goes to your registered representative, based on a compensation formula agreed to between the representative and Cetera Advisors. This compensation formula is the same for all similar products, regardless of the product issuer. Your sales charges and expenses and the sales commissions paid to Cetera Advisors differ from investment to investment, and may depend on the amount of money you invest.

In addition, after your initial transaction, Cetera Advisors is eligible to receive ongoing or continuing compensation, which is sometimes called a 12b-1 fee, service fee, trailing commission or trail and is designed to compensate Cetera Advisors for the marketing and services we provide for our representatives and investors. We retain a portion of these fees and pay the remainder to your registered representative, or, in some instances, may pass all of the fees on to your registered representative. You do not pay these fees directly. They are deducted from the total assets in the fund and therefore reduce investment returns. The amount of trail commissions is set by the mutual fund company and is typically set forth in the mutual fund prospectus and/or SAI.

Additionally, some of Cetera Advisors’ registered representatives work from locations in financial institutions. In that setting, part of the transaction based compensation, including ongoing compensation, is paid to the financial institution at which your registered representative is located (“Financial Institution”) based on a compensation formula agreed to between the Financial Institution and Cetera Advisors. The Financial Institution in turn may pass some of this compensation to your registered representative, or we may pay a portion of the compensation received from product issuers directly to your registered representative.


It is important for you to understand that transaction-based compensation may vary from one product to another, and that Cetera Advisors receives and pays a portion of transaction-based compensation to your registered representative. Accordingly, a potential conflict of interest exists where Cetera Advisors and your registered representative are paid more if you purchase one type of product as opposed to another, or you purchase from one product sponsor instead of another product sponsor.

If you have any questions about the amount of transaction-based compensation Cetera Advisors or your registered representative will earn from your investment alternatives, you should discuss them with your registered representative.

More information about these investment products and transaction-based compensation is available on our web site.


Although Cetera Advisors offers thousands of mutual funds from more than 250 mutual fund companies, and hundreds of variable life and annuity contracts from more than 100 insurance companies, we concentrate our marketing and training efforts on those investments offered by a much smaller number of select and well-known companies (Strategic Partners). Strategic Partners are selected, in part, based on the competitiveness of their products, their technology, their customer service and their training capabilities. Strategic Partners have more opportunities than other companies to market and educate our representatives on investments and the products they offer. For a current list of our Strategic Partners, please see Strategic Partners.

Our Strategic Partners pay extra compensation to Cetera Advisors and/or its affiliates in addition to the usual product compensation described in the prospectus. The additional amounts Strategic Partners pay us vary from one Strategic Partner to another and from year to year. Some Strategic Partners pay up to 45 basis points (0.45%), of your total purchase amount of a mutual fund or variable insurance product. So, for example, if you invest $10,000 in a mutual fund, Cetera Advisors could be paid up to $45. Additionally, some Strategic Partners make a quarterly payment or additional quarterly payment based on the assets you hold in the fund or variable insurance product over a period of time of up to 15 basis points (0.15%) per year. For example, on a holding of $10,000, Cetera Advisors could receive up to $15. Alternatively, we may receive compensation from the mutual fund or insurance company as: (1) a flat fee regardless of the amount of new sales or assets held in client accounts; or (2) the greater of such flat fee or amount based on assets and/or new sales as referenced above and any ticket charge payments referenced below. These payments are designed to compensate Cetera Advisors for ongoing marketing and administration and education of its employees and representatives. You do not make these payments. They are paid by the mutual fund and insurance companies and/or their affiliates out of the assets or earnings of the funds or insurance companies or their affiliates.

It is important to note that you do not pay more to purchase Strategic Partner mutual funds or insurance products through Cetera Advisors than you would pay to purchase those products through another broker-dealer, and your representative does not receive additional compensation for selling a Strategic Partner product.

  • "Basis point" is a common term used to describe compensation and other costs relating to securities. A basis point is one one-hundredth of a percentage point.
  • Cetera Advisors also may receive revenue sharing payments from companies that are not Strategic Partners.


A potential conflict of interest exists in that Cetera Advisors is paid more revenue-sharing fees if you purchase one type of product instead of another and/or you purchase a product from one particular sponsor instead of another. Your representative also indirectly benefits from Strategic Partner payments when the money is used to support costs relating to product review, marketing or training, or for waiver of ticket charges, as described below. Cetera financial advisors do not receive any compensation associated with the payments noted above.


When you purchase a mutual fund of a Strategic Partner in a Pershing brokerage account, Cetera Advisors may absorb the nominal “ticket charge” for each transaction of approximately $30 which would normally be paid by you or your registered representative. Generally, the mutual fund families that participate in the Strategic Partner Program subsidize some of these ticket charges through the compensation mentioned above or by paying us a per trade fee of up to $10. The type of transaction in a Strategic Partner mutual fund purchase that may qualify for a ticket charge waiver varies depending on the particular Strategic Partner. In general, the ticket charge will be waived for the purchase of certain mutual funds in an amount of $2,500 or more. Every mutual fund offered by Cetera Advisors may be purchased without a ticket charge by processing the transaction with a check and application sent directly to the mutual fund company. We believe that these ticket charge waivers do not compromise the advice your representative provides to you.


Cetera Advisors may also receive certain revenue sharing payments from third-party firms, including plan recordkeeping platforms as well as investment managers of mutual funds and the issuers of annuities (each a “Retirement Partner”). Retirement Partners participate in activities that are designed to help facilitate the distribution of their products and services, such as marketing activities and educational programs, including attendance at conferences and presentations to Cetera Advisors' financial advisors. These revenue sharing payments are in the form of a fixed dollar amount that does not depend on the amount of the Plan’s investment in any product or utilization of any Retirement Partner’s services. Retirement Partners may also pay Cetera Advisors' expenses, or provide non-cash items and services, to facilitate training and educational meetings for the Cetera Advisors’ financial advisors, which similarly do not depend on the amount of the Plan’s investment in any product or utilization of any Retirement Partners’ services. Our representatives do not receive any portion of these payments. For a list of our current Retirement Partners, please see Retirement Partners.

It is important to note that you do not pay more to purchase Retirement Partner products or services through Cetera Advisors, than you would pay to purchase those products or services through another broker-dealer, and your representative does not receive additional compensation for selling or recommending a Retirement Partner product or service.


In addition to commission-based compensation for sales of 529 plans, 529 plan assets are included in the amount of total mutual fund or variable annuity assets for which revenue sharing is paid as described above. Cetera Advisors does not separately account for these payments and does not have any 529 Plan Strategic Partners.

Revised April 2016