What is a Limited Discretionary Account

A limited discretionary account is a type of account in which a client allows a broker to act on his or her behalf in buying and selling securities. In a non-discretionary account, the broker’s job is to execute the desired transaction at the best available price. Depending on the exact nature of the broker-client relationship, a broker who oversees a non-discretionary account will recommend trades to the client. However, brokers lack the legal authority to buy or sell securities without first obtaining approval from the customer.

In a limited discretionary account, the broker can make certain types of trades without prior consent from the client. In order for this arrangement to take place, the investor has to sign an agreement stating that he or she is allowing certain trades without consent.

BREAKING DOWN Limited Discretionary Account

A limited discretionary account is also referred to as a "controlled account," which is any account for which trading is directed by someone other than the owner. It is also called a managed account, an investment account that is owned by an individual investor and overseen by a hired professional money manager. In contrast to mutual funds, which are professionally managed on behalf of many mutual-fund holders, managed accounts are personalized investment portfolios tailored to the specific needs of the account holder.

Discretionary vs. Non-Discretionary Accounts

A limited discretionary account arrangement empowers a broker or advisor to initiate a certain trade on behalf of the client. The agreement will also specify any of the client's limitations. A client who gives a broker or advisor this type of power must have complete trust in the person, as the arrangement can be risky. However, any decisions a broker or advisor makes must align with the client's goals. Some investors prefer this arrangement because they are just too busy to keep up with day-to-day developments in the market. One of the primary benefits of using a discretionary account is that it allows a person to invest without putting a lot of time into the activity.

However, many investors prefer non-discretionary accounts for a few reasons. Many investors want hands-on management over their accounts and are wary of placing too much trust in their broker; that relationship is simply not right for every investor. These investors may desire some guidance from a professional, but may still desire to be heavily involved in the process of making their investment decisions. For hands-on investors, a non-discretionary account is typically the best option.