Securities and Exchange Commission
Registered investment advisors must register with the SEC if they have more than $100MM in assets under management (AUM).  Those advisors with a lower AUM must register with individual states. Investment advisors who are registered with both the SEC and FINRA typically operate as both advisors and broker-dealers; thus they can advise on securities and be paid a commission for transacting trades.  Independent investment advisors typically are registered only with the SEC. That said, it is possible for an investment advisor to register solely with the SEC and to be affiliated with a broker-dealer. Registered investment advisors that are not affiliated with a broker-dealer are typically independent. You can view more about how an advisor receives remuneration by accessing Parts 5, 6, and 7 of the firm’s Form ADV I (click on Check Out Advisors and Brokers on the SEC homepage).

FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority)
>Broker-dealers and agents of broker-dealers register with FINRA.  You can research the background of a broker-dealer representative using BrokerCheck.  Investment advisor firms registered with FINRA, in addition to the SEC or state, are typically affiliated with a broker-dealer.