An Introduction to Brokerage Services

What opportunities exist for investors interested in brokerage services?

Learn about opportunities with brokerage services from Mitchell Thornton, National Director of Brokerage Services at Northern Trust Securities, Inc.


WEALTH MAGAZINE: When you think about wealth management services, brokerage may not be your first consideration. But in fact, brokerage services can play an important part in a thoughtful wealth management plan. Today, we have Mitch Thornton, National Director of Brokerage Services at Northern Trust Securities, Inc. here with us to learn more. Mitch, can you tell us how Northern Trust’s brokerage offering can complement a traditional wealth management strategy?

MITCHELL THORNTON: Our Financial Advisors work with one goal in mind, which is to tailor our brokerage advice and services to meet the needs of each client, and to help them achieve their specific goals. Northern Trust Securities provides a wide array of services, which includes everything from complex hedging strategies to the basics, like college savings.

The majority of our current brokerage clients have an existing relationship with Northern Trust. That’s important because our brokerage offering is used to complement our other services.

I would put our clients into three general categories. The first one being, clients that are seeking complex advice and guidance that require detailed analysis across different product offerings, and complex market conditions.

The second type of client we work with is looking for collaboration. We have clients that want to discuss their market philosophies with an investment professional and leverage our thought leadership and resources at Northern Trust.

The third type of client is a self-directed client, who is simply looking for trade execution. For example, some clients like to use our brokerage platform to make their own decisions. In summary, it all comes down to how our clients would like to be serviced, the level of engagement required, and the coordination with Northern Trust partners to meet our clients’ needs, goals, and objectives.

WEALTH: It sounds like brokerage works closely with the other areas of Wealth Management and you have a wide array of services. Can you elaborate on your organizational structure and brokerage offering?

THORNTON: Brokerage at Northern Trust is unique in that our focus is to provide clients with an integrated team of professionals that deliver holistic advice. The team approach is extremely important when working with high net worth families that tend to have very complex financial needs. What truly sets our brokerage offering apart is the flexibility in terms of investment solutions we can offer our clients. For example, we have relationships with a variety of the asset managers, which provides our clients with access to a wide array of investment vehicles.

We also have access to international equity and fixed income markets, hedging strategies and alternative investments. In summary, our clients have access to our full service brokerage platform as well as the additional resources across our organization. A brokerage relationship is a great way to help clients achieve their financial goals and complete their wealth management strategy.

Based on our expertise in delivering customized solutions to high net worth families over multiple generations, I believe that our organization has a competitive advantage in the industry.

WEALTH: Can you further discuss the benefit of having a brokerage relationship at Northern Trust?

THORNTON: There are many benefits to having a brokerage relationship at Northern Trust, but I would say there are two things that really set us apart when we talk to our clients: 1) is our financial advisors’ level of experience and 2) is the culture of our client service.

Our financial advisors have an average of over 20 years of industry experience and an average of over 10 years of experience working at Northern Trust. The level of experience in the industry and Northern Trust are critical for different reasons. The industry experience speaks to the quality of advice our clients will receive, as our financial advisors have seen and dealt with some of the most complex situations in all types of market conditions. Northern Trust experience ensures that our clients are provided with the breadth and depth of resources that are available throughout our organization. Northern Trust has a relentless drive to provide exceptional service to our clients and that culture extends into our brokerage business.

When you combine our level of experience with our service-oriented culture, you end up with the best of both worlds: quality advice and excellent service. And I think that is what makes us stand apart from other brokerage firms.

WEALTH: For more information on brokerage services at Northern Trust Securities Inc., visit