“They’re probably not the best [for] the $500 million [RIA] firm that does sophisticated wealth management for clients,” but it can be a good place for asset managers and start-ups, Winn said.

And IB has a very deep pool of potential start-ups. About 13,000 traders operate at the firm as a “friends and family” advisor, that is, someone who trades for themselves and for 15 or fewer clients and does not yet need to get registered. IB offers these traders a master account for fee collection and trade allocation.

In 2016, IB launched Greenwich Consulting, a compliance consulting service, to guide start-ups through the registration process.

Meanwhile, the firm continues to play a wider role in industry disruption.

Last month, Interactive became the first public company to list on the upstart Investors Exchange (IEX), a trading venue founded by high-speed-trading critic Brad Katsuyama, who was featured in author Michael Lewis's book "Flash Boys." IEX uses a “speed bump” to prevent high-speed traders from trading against public orders.

The move to IEX wasn’t surprising. IB founder and CEO Thomas Peterffy has been an outspoken critic of high-speed trading and the payments other exchanges make for the order flow that high-speeders can trade against.

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