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Review of Valic Financial Advisors

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone and is not intended to be a source of investment advice. It may not have not been reviewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners or the Investment company.

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Valic Financial Advisors, Inc. (VFA) is a large, national retirement plan provider headquartered in Houston that also does business under the name AIG Retirement Services. The company has over $21 billion in assets under management (AUM) and more than 2,100 employees.

The firm provides both investment advisory and broker-dealer services. It serves clients in employee-sponsored retirement plans as well as individual clients (including high net worth individuals), offering several investment plans from which to choose.

All information included in this profile is accurate as of April 1, 2021. For more information, please consult Valic Financial Advisors’ website.

Assets under management: $21,116,994,032
Minimum investment: Varies by program, some with no minimum
Fee structure: A percentage of AUM; fixed fees
Headquarters:2929 Allen Parkway, L7-20
Houston, TX 77019
https://www.aigrs.com/
866-544-4968

Overview of Valic Financial Advisors

Valic Financial Advisors, also known as AIG Retirement Services, was founded in 1996. Its name, Valic, is an acronym of the Variable Annuity Life Insurance Company, which is the company that owns it. Both the firm and the company that owns it are members of American International Group, Inc. (AIG), a large finance and insurance corporation.

VFA currently has over 1,300 employees who serve in investment advisory roles. Its team also includes licensed agents of an insurance company or agency and representatives of broker-dealers. In addition to Valic Financial Advisors’ headquarters in Houston, the firm has 185 other offices across the country. It is registered across all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia.

What types of clients does Valic Financial Advisors serve?

Valic Financial Advisors primarily provides its services to individual investors. This includes high net worth individuals, who the SEC defines as those with at least $750,000 under management or a net worth of at least $1.5 million, and those in employer-sponsored retirement plans. In some cases, the firm may also work with trusts, charitable organizations and businesses.

Valic Financial Advisors offers four primary programs, each of which has a different minimum account balance requirement. The programs offered are as follows:

  • Managed Investment Program (MIP): Available to individuals, trusts, corporations and other business entities. The minimum initial account balance required ranges from $5,000 to $250,000, depending on the portfolio.
  • Guided Portfolio Services (GPS) Program: Available to individual participants in a retirement plan account with VALIC or VALIC Retirement Services Company (VRSCO), both of which are affiliates of the firm. No minimum account balance is required.
  • Guided Portfolio Advantage (GPA) Program: Available to individuals, trusts, corporations and other business entities. No minimum account balance is required, but you must purchase a PD Freedom Advisor contract, which has a minimum initial premium payment of $25,000.
  • Financial planning: The firm’s financial planning services are limited to individuals. There is no minimum balance requirement for a mutual fund brokerage account, though one may be required for some securities, including annuities and mutual funds issued by the firm’s affiliates as well as unaffiliated mutual funds.

Services offered by Valic Financial Advisors

Valic Financial Advisors provides services for participants of retirement plans and health reimbursement arrangements, including enrollment, education, plan-related services and customer service. The firm also provides brokerage services, such as recommending mutual funds, variable annuity and life insurance products, as well as investment advisory services to retirement plan participants and others. Additionally, VFA provides certain retirement or financial planning services to clients or prospective clients as a one-time investment advisory service.

More specifically, the firm’s services include the following:

  • Investment advisory services
  • Financial planning
    • Retirement planning
    • Charitable planning
    • Education planning
    • Tax analysis
    • Cash flow forecasting
    • Spending analysis and budgeting
    • Debt management
    • Determination of pension and distribution options
  • Insurance/risk management
  • Employee benefit plan services and 401(k) consulting
  • Webinars, educational materials and tools
  • Brokerage services

How Valic Financial Advisors invests your money

Valic Financial Advisors offers three managed account advisory programs to its clients, each of which takes a different approach to investing. Which program a client uses will depend on whether they are a retirement plan participant or have purchased an annuity contract through VALIC, or if they are simply interested in having Valic Financial Advisors manage their investments.

Guided Portfolio Services (GPS) Program: This is a plan offered to those who are participating in employer-sponsored retirement plans provided by VALIC or VALIC Retirement Services Company. It includes both an online, automated service that provides non-discretionary investment advice (GPS Portfolio Advisor), as well as a program that provides discretionary investment advice, meaning advisors can make the final decisions about whether to buy or sell investments (GPS Portfolio Manager).

Guided Portfolio Advantage (GPA) Program: This asset management program is available to clients who purchased fixed and variable annuity contracts, whether through the VALIC Portfolio Director Advantage fixed and variable annuity contract (PD Advantage), which is no longer available, or the VALIC Portfolio Director Freedom Advisor fixed and variable annuity contracts (PD Freedom Advisor).

Managed Investment Program (MIP): This is Valic Financial Advisors’ asset management program, which is based on 19 portfolio models that are designed and managed by various investment managers from five companies: BlackRock Investment Management, Envestnet Portfolio Solutions, Inc., Russell Investment Management, LLC, CLS Investments, LLC, and the Vanguard Group.

Portfolios are selected for clients based on a profile questionnaire that evaluates their risk tolerance, goals, objectives and time horizon. Portfolios are also categorized based on how aggressive they are, ranging from one focused on low-cost investing using passively managed index mutual funds to one that invests in mutual funds, ETFs and separately managed accounts.

Fees Valic Financial Services charges for its services

The fees that Valic Financial Advisors charges vary by program and by portfolio type. The firm typically charges clients based on a percentage of assets under management. Rates are tiered for each program, with rates decreasing the higher the account balance. For example, under the Integrated Managed Investor Account Portfolios in the MIP Program, rates start at 1.83% for the first $250,000 and drop to 0.82% for assets over $5 million.

Depending on the program in which they are enrolled, clients may also owe additional investment-related costs. This may include costs such as fund fees or separate account charges, among other expenses.

Valic Financial Advisors highlights

  • Large number of portfolio options: Valic Financial Advisors’ MIP program offers 19 model portfolios with various investment philosophies to meet a variety of needs.
  • Low minimum account balances: While some portfolios offered by VFA require a minimum account balance of $100,000 or more, some only require $5,000, which makes the firm in reach for a wide range of investors.
  • National presence: With offices across the country, VFA’s services are widely available. In total, the firm has 186 locations throughout the U.S.
  • Awards for user experience: Valic Financial Advisors’ website has consistently won awards for best participant website. The firm has also received numerous awards for its sales literature and education communications.

Valic Financial Advisors downsides

  • Numerous disciplinary disclosures: VFA has had a number of disciplinary actions related to various allegations. Learn more about the firm’s disciplinary history below.
  • Potential conflicts of interest: Because Valic Financial Advisors is dually registered as broker-dealer, the potential for conflicts for interest may arise. For example, because their advisors receive compensation for various products and services, they may be financially incentivized to make certain recommendations. VFA is also owned by a large insurance company, which means there is potential for bias when advising and referring clients in matters related to insurance.
  • Limited customization: While Valic Financial Advisors has a large selection of portfolios to choose from, it only offers model portfolios. If you’re looking for customized options, you won’t find that here.

Valic Financial Advisors disciplinary disclosures

Valic Financial Services has a number of disciplinary disclosures on its record. As a registered investment advisor, the firm is required by the SEC to disclose any disciplinary incidents, which includes civil, regulatory or criminal actions against the firm, its employees or its affiliates over the last 10 years, that may be material to a client evaluating the firm or the integrity of its management team.

Some of the most significant events listed on the firm’s most recent Form ADV filings are listed below, ordered according to the date on which the matter was settled:

  • Nov. 28, 2016: VFA was censured and fined $1.75 million for alleged rule violations regarding its systems, processes and procedures, including allegedly failing to “have a reasonable system or process/procedures designed to address, analyze or review the conflicts of interest in its compensation program.”
  • June 3, 2019: VFA paid a $10,000 fine after the Securities Enforcement Branch of the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs alleged that the firm “failed to supervise a registered representative who had submitted a transaction without proper customer authorization.”
  • July 28, 2020: In response to SEC findings that VFA didn’t properly disclose some conflicts of interest and didn’t have proper written compliance policies and procedures in place, the firm consented to a cease-and-desist order and a censure. It was ordered to pay affected investors disgorgement of $13.2 million and prejudgment interest of $2.2 million, as well as a $4.5 million civil monetary penalty. Additionally, VFA agreed to review and correct as necessary all relevant disclosure documents.
  • July 28, 2020: VFA consented to a cease-and-desist order and a censure, and agreed to pay a civil monetary penalty of $20 million in response to SEC Findings that the firm didn’t inform Florida teachers that its parent company, VALIC, paid a for-profit company to refer teachers to its products and services. The firm was also found to have insufficient written compliance policies and procedures in place. As part of the settlement, VFA enacted rate caps for the program management fees for plans offered by Florida K-12 schools.
  • Jan. 8, 2021: VFA was censured and fined $350,000 in response to alleged FINRA rule violations regarding the firm’s failure to have processes and procedures in place to monitor rates of variable annuity exchanges and correct any that were inappropriate.

For more information on these and other disclosures, visit the firm’s IAPD page.

Valic Financial Advisors onboarding process

To enroll in one of AIG’s employer-sponsored retirement plans or to access your account online, you will need to get a code from your employer that you can use to complete the enrollment process. To inquire about other services, representatives can be reached Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Central Time at 1-800-448-2542.

Clients in all programs receive quarterly reports, though those in the GPS Program don’t receive written reports like those in the MIP and GPA programs. Instead, GPS offers online advice and reports to clients.

Is Valic Financial Advisors right for you?

If you’re looking for a large, national firm to help with your retirement needs, Valic Financial Advisors may be worth considering, particularly for those in employee-sponsored plans that work with the firm. The firm’s numerous disciplinary disclosures, however, may raise red flags for some. There is also the potential for conflicts of interest, as VFA acts as a broker-dealer and is owned by an insurance company.

Still, the firm is widely accessible to investors with a wide range of investable asset levels, as well as those in a number of locations, as VFA has numerous offices throughout the country.

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Best Financial Advisors in Kentucky 2021: Fees and Services

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone and is not intended to be a source of investment advice. It may not have not been reviewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners or the Investment company.

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Choosing a locally based advisor can be challenging, especially given the number of financial advisors in Kentucky. Finding the right advisor has a lot to do with figuring out the proper fit, especially if you live outside of major cities in the Bluegrass State, like Louisville and Lexington, or the capital, Frankfort. When choosing a financial advisor, you need to understand your financial needs and goals as well as how much you can spend for an advisor’s services.

Comparing firms and data points — a necessary step in finding an advisor who is right for you — can be difficult. That’s why we compiled the most pertinent information here on Kentucky’s advisory companies to help guide your decision. To identify the best advisors in Kentucky, we only considered firms that manage individual accounts and offer financial planning services. We then ranked these firms based on assets under management (AUM), which acts as a general metric for the firm’s size, and client-to-advisor ratio, which indicates how much attention you may receive as a client of the firm.

Although our ranking can’t suggest which firm may be best for you, it can help you more easily make that determination for yourself. Read on for our list of the top firms in Kentucky and their highlights:

10 best financial advisors in Kentucky

Methodology and criteria

For our search, we looked at firms across the state of Kentucky. All of the firms considered are bound by fiduciary duty, registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and offer individual account management and financial planning services.

The firms that met this criteria were ranked based on their AUM and client-to-advisor ratio. These criteria are weighted equally in our scoring metrics. Firms with a higher AUM and lower client-to-advisor ratios garner higher scores. Our ranking system is designed to help compare firms but does not indicate which firm may be best for you.

In our reviews, we’ve listed several other key features that will help you determine which financial advisor is most fitting for your investing style and financial needs. It is important to note that we did not include disciplinary disclosures as a metric for our ranking. We have listed any disciplinary disclosures current as of April 6, 2021, but urge you to evaluate these firms on https://adviserinfo.sec.gov/.

1. ARGI Investment Services, LLC

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  • Minimum assets required: $50,000
  • AUM: $3,700,382,256
  • Individual investor to advisor ratio: 47:1
  • Fee structure:
    • A percentage of AUM
    • Fixed fees
    • Other (portfolio signals, fixed subscription fee)
  • Firm phone number: 502-753-0609
  • Headquarters address:
    2201 High Wickham Place
    Louisville, KY 40245

About ARGI Investment Services, LLC

ARGI Investment Services, LLC, was founded in 1995 as part of American Express Financial Advisors, but separated from that company in 2003. ARGI partnered with National Planning Corporation until 2010, when ARGI registered with the SEC as a registered investment advisor. Today, ARGI is owned by ARGI Holdings, Inc, whose owners include CEO Joe Reeves, president Neil Quinlan and an employee stock ownership plan.

ARGI provides a range of financial planning, portfolio management, investment advisory and financial education services. Most of the clients served by the firm are individuals, including high net worth individuals who the SEC defines as those with at least $750,000 under management or a net worth of at least $1.5 million. However, the team also serves some pension and profit- sharing plans and charities.

In addition to the firm’s headquarters in Louisville, it has offices in Kentucky in Bowling Green, Paducah, Bardstown and Elizabethtown. The firm also has locations in Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Atlanta and Grand Rapids, Mich.

ARGI Investment Services, LLC investing strategy

ARGI Investment Services has an investment committee that meets quarterly that is responsible for creating, maintaining and monitoring the firm’s investment portfolios. In general, the team divides its strategies into different model portfolios based on the needs and risk tolerance of clients, with an emphasis on offering flexibility.

Different portfolios offered by the firm focus on different strategies, such as stock options, individual stocks and bonds, dividends or indexes. Various weightings and other factors, including the possibility of unpredictable market events, are considered when constructing portfolios and making adjustments.

ARGI Investment Services, LLC disciplinary disclosures

ARGI Investment Services reports no disciplinary disclosures, meaning that neither the firm nor its employees or affiliates have faced any civil, criminal or regulatory actions within the last 10 years. You can find more information about ARGI Investment Services on its IAPD page.

2. MCF Advisors, LLC

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  • Minimum assets required: None
  • AUM: $2,168,282,120
  • Individual investor to advisor ratio: 189:1
  • Fee structure:
    • A percentage of AUM
    • Hourly charges
    • Fixed fees
  • Firm phone number: 859-392-8600
  • Headquarters address:
    50 E. Rivercenter Blvd.
    Covington, KY 41011

About MCF Advisors, LLC

MCF Advisors, LLC was founded in 2004 by Bob Sathe, the firm’s current chairman, and Dave Harris, who serves as CEO. Both Sathe and Harris had long careers with advisory firms before founding MCF Advisors. The firm is completely employee-owned, with Harris owning the majority share.

Most of the firm’s clients are individuals who are not considered high net worth, though it also serves high net worth individuals as well as some pension and profit-sharing plans, charitable organizations and businesses. These clients can expect to receive services including financial planning, portfolio management, bill payment, tax advisory and preparation, help selecting other advisors and assistance with general financial management.

The firm is headquartered in Covington, Ky. It has a second office in Lexington, Ky.

MCF Advisors, LLC investing strategy

When creating an investment plan or managing client assets, MCF Advisors focuses on individualized, long-term objectives. Based on a client’s objectives as well as their risk tolerance, the firm will recommend either a diversified investment strategy or an asset allocation model portfolio.

When identifying potential investment opportunities, MCF Advisors takes into account factors including sector exposure, yield, economic landscape, volatility and credit quality, with a focus on minimizing risk. Investments commonly used in client portfolios include mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and individual stocks and bonds.

MCF Advisors, LLC disciplinary disclosures

MCF Advisors has no disciplinary actions to disclose. The SEC requires all registered investment advisors to report any such events that may be material to a client’s evaluation of the firm or its management in their Form ADV paperwork. More information about the firm can be found on MCF Advisors’ IAPD page.

3. Keystone Financial Group, LLC

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  • Minimum assets required: $10,000
  • AUM: $1,084,007,770
  • Individual investor to advisor ratio: 146:1
  • Fee structure:
    • A percentage of AUM
    • Hourly charges
    • Fixed fees
  • Firm phone number: 859-317-8316
  • Headquarters address:
    527 Wellington Way, Suite 225
    Lexington, KY 40503

About Keystone Financial Group, LLC

Founded in 2008 and registered with the SEC in 2014, Keystone Financial Group is privately owned by Tobin Ray Jenkins, the firm’s chief compliance officer, and managing members Michael W. Kretz and Timothy Scott Jenkins. In addition to the firm’s headquarters in Lexington, Ky., it has eight other offices in Kentucky, including three additional Lexington locations and offices in Ashland, Leitchfield, Mt. Sterling, Paducah and Somerset.

The majority of Keystone Financial Group’s clients are individuals, including some high net worth individuals, as well as businesses. The firm provides a range of financial planning services, alongside portfolio management and educational workshops. A minimum of $10,000 is generally required to open an account.

Keystone Financial Group, LLC investing strategy

When creating portfolios and making recommendations to its clients, Keystone Financial Group uses charting, technical analysis and fundamental analysis. Charting and technical analysis look at past returns in an attempt to predict future price movements. Fundamental analysis, on the other hand, is more focused on factors that may impact future performance, such as a company’s financial statements and management.

When it comes to its investing approach, the team at Keystone Financial Group will both buy and hold investments for the long term and engage in frequent trading. The firm may also use short sales and margin transactions.

Keystone Financial Group, LLC disciplinary disclosures

Keystone Financial Group has no disciplinary disclosures to report. This means the firm, its employees and its affiliates have not faced any civil, criminal or regulatory actions in the past decade. Find out more by visiting Keystone Financial Group’s IAPD page.

4. Legacy Financial Advisors, Inc.

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  • Minimum assets required: Not specified
  • AUM: $764,642,810
  • Individual investor to advisor ratio: 70:1
  • Fee structure:
    • A percentage of AUM
    • Fixed fees
  • Firm phone number: 859-655-5225
  • Headquarters address:
    117 East Fourth Street
    Covington, KY 41011

About Legacy Financial Advisors, Inc.

Legacy Financial Advisors, Inc. was formed in 2006. Its principal owners are managing principal Michael J. Maisel, and principals Paul A. Sartori and P. Trent Lucas. In addition to the firm’s headquarters in Covington, Ky., it has an office in Lakewood Ranch, Fla.

Most of the firm’s clients are individuals, including those who are high net worth, but Legacy Financial Advisors also serves profit-sharing and pension plans and charities. Clients can turn to the firm for financial planning and portfolio management services, and the firm notes that it specializes in estate planning, insurance and risk management.

Legacy Financial Advisors, Inc. investing strategy

When planning portfolios and making investment recommendations, Legacy Financial Advisors focuses on asset allocation, which it believes is the main driver of returns, and diversification, which it believes is key to managing risk.

Portfolios include sub-strategies that make use of capital preservation, growth equity and tactical strategies in order to reach a client’s goals and adhere to their risk tolerance. Additionally, the team may use alternative investments, including private real estate investment trusts, commodities, funds of funds and managed futures.

Legacy Financial Advisors, Inc. disciplinary disclosures

Legacy Financial Advisors doesn’t have any disciplinary disclosures to report. This means that neither the company nor its employees or affiliates have faced any civil, criminal or regulatory actions within the last 10 years that would materially impact how a client sees the business. Visit Legacy Financial Advisors’ IAPD page for more information.

5. Journey Advisory Group, LLC

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  • Minimum assets required: $100,000
  • AUM: $647,445,977
  • Individual investor to advisor ratio: 47:1
  • Fee structure:
    • A percentage of AUM
    • Hourly charges
    • Fixed fees
  • Firm phone number: 859-888-0355
  • Headquarters address:
    15 West 5th St
    Covington, KY 41011

About Journey Advisory Group, LLC

Journey Advisory Group, LLC was founded 2014 as Dynasty Advisor Group, LLC. The firm changed its name to Journey Advisory Group in 2019. Today, the firm is privately held and is principally owned by co-founders Tyler S. Lang and Stephan Lang, although James W. Owens, a senior financial advisor, and Kathryn C. McNeely, the firm’s director of operations, hold minority interests.

Journey Advisory Group serves individuals, including those who are high net worth, as well as some profit-sharing and pension plans. The firm offers a range of financial planning services, as well as portfolio management, pension consulting and educational seminars. A minimum account size of $100,000 is generally required by the firm.

In addition to the Journey Advisory Group’s headquarters in Covington, Ky., there are offices in Temple, Texas, Gold River, California, and Cincinnati.

Journey Advisory Group, LLC investing strategy

A common investment strategy used by Journey Advisory Group is strategic asset allocation, which focuses less on selecting individual securities and more so on the balance between different types of asset classes in a client’s portfolio. The firm aims to determine the right mix of equities, fixed income and cash for clients based on their objectives and risk tolerance.

When analyzing investments, the team at Journey Advisory Group primarily relies on fundamental analysis, which looks at underlying factors like a company’s management and income statements, and technical analysis, which considers past performance trends and cycles to predict future performance.

Journey Advisory Group, LLC disciplinary disclosures

Journey Advisory Group has no disciplinary information to disclose, meaning that neither the firm nor its employees or affiliates have faced any civil, criminal or regulatory actions in the past 10 years. As a registered investment advisor, the firm is required by the SEC to report this information. Learn more by visiting Journey Advisory Group’s IAPD page.

6. KPP Advisory Services LLC

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  • Minimum assets required: Varies by program
  • AUM: $525,736,765
  • Individual investor to advisor ratio: 91:1
  • Fee structure:
    • A percentage of AUM
    • Hourly charges
    • Fixed fees
  • Firm phone number: 502-394-0400
  • Headquarters address:
    9300 Shelbyville Road, Suite 1310
    Louisville, KY 40222

About KPP Advisory Services, LLC

KPP Advisory Services, LLC, which stands for Kentucky Planning Partners, was founded in 2005. The firm’s principal owners remain its founders, Robert A. Davenport and Ken A. O’Neil. The company operates out of its headquarters in Louisville, Ky.

Most of KPP Advisory Services’ clients are individual investors, some of whom are high net worth. The firm offers financial planning, portfolio management and pension consulting.

KPP Advisory Services, LLC investing strategy

KPP Advisory Services makes decisions regarding the appropriate asset allocation and investment approach for a client based on their goals and objectives, risk tolerance, time horizon and knowledge of investing. On the whole, the firm says that its aim is the preservation and protection of wealth.

KPP Advisory Services generally focuses on asset allocation when investing client funds. It makes use of fundamental analysis when selecting investments, which looks at historical and current data on a company to determine its intrinsic value. When making choices about which funds to invest in, the firm also takes into consideration the experience and track record of the mutual fund or ETF manager.

KPP Advisory Services, LLC disciplinary disclosures

KPP Advisory Services doesn’t have any disciplinary disclosures to report, including any civil, criminal or regulatory actions over the prior decade involving the firm, its employees or its affiliates. More information on KPP Advisory Services can be found on the firm’s IAPD page.

7. Landmark Financial Advisors, LLC

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  • Minimum assets required: None, but $1,500 minimum annual fee
  • AUM: $404,708,000
  • Individual investor to advisor ratio: 102:1
  • Fee structure:
    • A percentage of AUM
    • Hourly charges
    • Other (fees for selection of advisors)
  • Firm phone number: 270-782-9222
  • Headquarters address:
    1131 Fairview Avenue, Suite 203
    Bowling Green, KY 42103

About Landmark Financial Advisors, LLC

Landmark Financial Advisors, LLC was founded in 2001. The company is owned by Commonwealth Bank & Trust Company, Inc., a Kentucky-based bank, and LFA Partners, Inc., which is, in turn, owned by the firm’s managing partner and partner. Landmark Financial Advisors is based in Bowling Green, Ky., and doesn’t have any other offices.

Most of Landmark Financial Advisors’ clients are individual investors who are and are not considered high net worth, but the firm also serves charities and trusts, as well as pension and profit-sharing plans. The firm offers a range of financial planning services, including divorce planning, as well as portfolio management and pension consulting.

Landmark Financial Advisors, LLC investing strategy

Landmark Financial Advisors may either create a customized portfolio for a client based on their risk tolerance and objectives, or it may use one or more of the firm’s model portfolios to invest a client’s assets. It emphasizes taking what it describes as a “consultative approach,” which entails gaining an understanding of a client’s larger financial life.

The firm primarily relies on long-term security purchases (those held for over a year) for its investing strategy. However, Landmark Financial Advisors may also make use of trading, margin transactions and options writing when it believes it is appropriate for the client.

Landmark Financial Advisors, LLC disciplinary disclosures

Landmark Financial Advisors has one disciplinary disclosure related to a customer complaint against one of the advisors while they were employed elsewhere. The complaint alleges that the advisor failed to supervise a broker. The case was dismissed after the employer settled the complaint, and the court indicated that it would have dismissed the advisor from the case regardless.

Further details on the disclosure can be found on the firm’s IAPD page.

8. AlphaMark Advisors, LLC

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  • Minimum assets required: Not specified
  • AUM: $371,090,114
  • Individual investor to advisor ratio: 75:1
  • Fee structure:
    • A percentage of AUM
    • Hourly charges
    • Fixed fees
  • Firm phone number: 859-957-1803
  • Headquarters address:
    810 Wright’s Summit Parkway, Suite 100
    Ft. Wright, KY 41011

About AlphaMark Advisors, LLC

AlphaMark Advisors, LLC was established in 1999. The firm’s principal owner is its president, Michael L. Simon, although other individuals also have a stake. The firm is headquartered in Ft. Wright, Ky., which is its sole office location.

Most of AlphaMark’s clients are individuals who both are and are not considered high net worth per the SEC. Its client base also includes some investment companies, charitable organizations, businesses and pension and profit-sharing plans. AlphaMark focuses mainly on providing financial planning, including on topics such as divorce and college planning, as well as portfolio management to its clients.

AlphaMark Advisors, LLC investing strategy

AlphaMark Advisors uses fixed income, equities and alternative investments to build portfolios for its clients, and it describes the ownership of quality stocks, bonds, mutual funds and ETFs as the basis of its investment strategy. Alphamark primarily uses long-term purchases to achieve its clients’ objectives, although it will sell when warranted.

Based on a client’s objectives, AlphaMark will select an appropriate portfolio strategy. Strategies offered include aggressive growth, growth, balanced and income, as well as strategies based on investing in companies of certain sizes.

AlphaMark Advisors, LLC disciplinary disclosures

There are no disciplinary disclosures reported by AlphaMark Advisors on its Form ADV paperwork filed with the SEC. This means that neither the firm nor its employees or affiliates have faced any civil, criminal or regulatory actions within the last 10 years. More information can be found on AlphaMark Advisors’ IAPD page.

9. The Gleason Group, Inc.

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  • Minimum assets required: Not specified
  • AUM: $359,724,444
  • Individual investor to advisor ratio: 44:1
  • Fee structure:
    • A percentage of AUM
  • Firm phone number: 502-882-7300
  • Headquarters address:
    9418 Norton Commons Blvd. Suite 100
    Prospect, KY 40059

About The Gleason Group, Inc.

The Gleason Group, Inc. was founded in 2015 and is privately owned by Gavin T. Gleason, who is also the president and CEO. The firm’s headquarters and only office location is in Prospect, Kentucky.

While most of the clients that Gleason Group serves are individuals who are not considered high net worth, it does also work with high net worth individuals as well as pension and profit-sharing plans and businesses. The firm offers a variety of wealth management services and financial planning and consulting services, including estate planning, education planning, retirement planning, risk management and more.

The Gleason Group, Inc. investing strategy

The Gleason Group takes a long-term, buy-and-hold approach to investing. It emphasizes diversification and also takes into account taxes and investing costs when making investment recommendations to its clients. The team primarily uses mutual funds, ETFs, index funds and individual stocks and bonds to invest client’s assets based on their goals.

For the most part, The Gleason Group focuses on fundamental analysis when analyzing investment opportunities. In other words, the firm evaluates investments based on factors like company management, income statements, current competitors and position in the market to determine whether an investment is worthwhile.

The Gleason Group, Inc. disciplinary disclosures

The Gleason Group has no disciplinary disclosures to report. This includes any civil, criminal or regulatory events from within the last 10 years that a client may find pertinent when evaluating the firm or the integrity of its management team. More information can be found on The Gleason Group’s IAPD page.

10. Atlas Brown

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  • Minimum assets required: None
  • AUM: $421,811,132
  • Individual investor to advisor ratio: 57:1
  • Fee structure:
    • A percentage of AUM
    • Fixed fees
  • Firm phone number: 502-271-2900
  • Headquarters address:
    333 East Main Street, Suite 400
    Louisville, KY 40202

About Atlas Brown

Atlas Brown was founded in 2004 by a group of investment professionals. It is privately owned. Based in Louisville, Ky., the firm places an emphasis on family wealth management and family office services, such as the preparation of financial plans or evaluations, bill pay and consultations on trusts or business succession plans.

Most of the clients served by Atlas Brown are individuals who do not meet the SEC’s definition of high net worth. However, the firm does also work with some high net worth individuals. Its client base also includes businesses, charitable organizations and pension and profit-sharing plans.

Atlas Brown investing strategy

At Atlas Brown, senior portfolio managers are responsible for analyzing investment opportunities and choosing which investments are suitable for a client based on their needs and goals.

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Financial advisors in Kentucky: FAQ

The cost to work with a financial advisor depends on what services are offered and which advisor you work with. In general, you’re likely to see flat or hourly fees for some services, such as financial planning or consultations, and a percentage of assets under management for portfolio management services, with the typical cost ranging from 0.50% to 1.25% of assets under management. Make sure you carefully look at an advisor’s fee structure to ensure you understand what to expect.

Kentucky has income tax and property tax, as well as a sales tax. The non-partisan think tank Tax Foundation ranks Kentucky 13th for state and local income tax collections per capita.

There is no estate tax in Kentucky. However, the state does have an inheritance tax, making Kentucky one of only six states that levies this tax.

Not all financial advisor firms specialize in retirement planning. However, many of them can offer guidance as you prepare for retirement. If retirement planning is a priority for you, then make sure to find an advisor to work with who is well-versed in this area and can provide the services you need.

Because a financial advisor who is a fiduciary is required to put their clients’ best interests first, it is smart to choose a fiduciary when looking for a financial advisor in Kentucky. Advisors who are not bound by fiduciary duty must simply make recommendations that are suitable for their clients, rather than what’s best, meaning they could prioritize their own bottom line over what is truly right for you.

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62% of Cryptocurrency Investors Believe They’ll Get Rich Off Those Investments

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone and is not intended to be a source of investment advice. It may not have not been reviewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners or the Investment company.

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In the 1800s, Americans rushed out to the West in search of gold. These days, it’s cryptocurrency (crypto for short) that’s dangling dollar signs.

Bitcoin, the largest crypto by market share, has seen an explosion in value recently, reaching nearly $62,000 in mid-March. In the last year, its price has risen more than 800%. This may explain why the latest MagnifyMoney survey of more than 1,000 Americans found that more than 6 in 10 crypto investors believe it’ll make them rich.

We’ll highlight who’s investing in crypto, how much they’re investing and the associated risks. Amid its rising popularity, we’ll also dive into nonfungible tokens, or NFTs.

Key findings

  • 22% of Americans own some form of cryptocurrency, and younger consumers are increasingly interested. About 35% of millennials own cryptocurrency (up from 30% in a July 2020 survey), as do 30% of Gen Zers (up from 25% in the same survey).
  • 46% of Americans say they regret not buying Bitcoin years ago. To that point, only 6% of current crypto investors made their first purchase in 2015 or earlier.
  • 62% of crypto investors think they’ll get rich off those investments. More than 1 in 10 current crypto investors have invested $10,000 or more.
  • About a third (32%) of crypto investors don’t have their private key — which is needed to access their digital wallet — written down. Separately, 73% who own crypto are at least somewhat concerned about their cryptocurrency disappearing.
  • 71% of consumers with a significant other say they’d be mad if their partner spent a certain amount of money on cryptocurrency or NFTs. However, these consumers have varying thresholds for the amount their partner would have to spend to upset them. Just 23% would be upset if their partner spent any money on crypto.
  • About 27% of Gen Zers and millennials are bidding on NFTs. Across all generations, 15% of Americans have bid on NFTs. 44% say they did so because they’re a dedicated fan of the creator.

More than 1 in 5 Americans own some form of cryptocurrency — and nearly half just got started

While cryptocurrency may seem “out there” to some, it’s becoming increasingly popular with Americans — especially younger ones. Our survey found that 22% of Americans currently own some form of cryptocurrency, and that percentage is higher among millennials and Gen Zers:

  • 35% of millennials currently own cryptocurrency, which is up from 30% in a July 2020 survey
  • 30% of Gen Zers currently own cryptocurrency, which is up from 25% in the same survey

Why are people choosing cryptocurrency? While the majority sees it as a way to invest, a significant portion see it primarily as a source of payment or form of money.

Tendayi Kapfidze, chief economist for LendingTree said crypto buyers need to take into account their tolerance for risk.

“Crypto is very volatile,” Kapfidze said. “The risk parameters aren’t well understood. It’s more of a speculative instrument than investment.”

As a form of payment, he said it may be even riskier since its value could change drastically between the time you sign a contract and the point at which you have to pay in Bitcoin or another form of crypto.

And speaking of other crypto: Though Bitcoin is the top dog, it’s followed in popularity by Ethereum, Dogecoin and Litecoin, but not closely.

While 74% of Americans don’t own crypto and never have, it’s the older generations that appear to be the most leery.

A whopping 94% of baby boomers said they’ve never owned cryptocurrency, compared with:

  • 80% of Gen Xers
  • 60% of millennials
  • 60% of Gen Zers

There are two other important ways to look at this:

  • 26% of men currently own crypto, compared with 19% of women
  • 34% of those with a household income of $100,000 or more currently own crypto, compared with 14% of those with a household income below $35,000

Going beyond age, gender and income, it was 2020 when they decided to dip their toes in the crypto pond. Of those who currently own or have owned crypto, 32% said 2020 was the year they first purchased it.

About half of crypto investors only began buying cryptocurrency in 2020 or 2021, while only 6% of crypto investors made their first purchase in 2015 or earlier.

Kapfidze said there were major increases in value with all types of assets in 2020, including stocks and real estate. Crypto was among those that increased, and that may have attracted a lot of new people, which then perpetuates itself upward. He said the risk is that the same will happen on the downside if people decide it’s not the great thing they think it is.

Nearly half of Americans regret not buying Bitcoin years ago

A good portion of Americans wish they acted earlier, with 46% agreeing that they regret not buying Bitcoin years ago. Still, the majority (55%) said they had no regrets.

When you get into the crypto game, Kapfidze said, can greatly influence how well you do, as the people who join late often pay the people who came early.

“It comes down to a question of where are you in the chain in terms of whether you make or lose money,” he said. “That’s the gamble you’re taking.”

Why people are buying cryptocurrency and what they’re doing with it

Getting rich is the name of the crypto game, as 62% of crypto investors said they think it’s likely they’ll get rich off it, compared with the 18% who said it’s unlikely.

Men are the biggest believers in crypto’s potential, as 69% said they think it’s likely they’ll get rich off their investments, versus 53% of women who said the same.

But most crypto investors don’t think it’s necessarily a get-rich-quick scheme. In fact, 63% see it as a long-term investment — including 100% of baby boomers who were surveyed.

Keeping in line with that way of thinking, 50% of investors said they plan to hold their crypto and (hopefully) watch it gain value, but not everyone is on board with that.

Other top uses for crypto investments included:

  • Buying gift cards
  • Paying off debt
  • Buying other forms of crypto or NFTs (more on those later!)

About 12% of current cryptocurrency owners said they plan to spend it on gaming:

Is one approach better than the other? Kapfidze said it’s a matter of personal preference.

“Because it’s so volatile, there’s really not a lot of great ways to form your expectations around what the value will be,” Kapfidze said. “Certainly, what we’ve seen in the last year is it gaining pretty dramatically in value, and people believe it will continue to gain in value.

“But at some point, as we’ve seen in episodes in the past, it’s lost value. As an individual, you have to decide what you’re comfortable with and what portion of your net worth you’re willing to put into it. If you put a large portion in, you have to make sure you can stomach it on the downside.”

Are people investing big money in cryptocurrency? Well…

Just how much are people investing in cryptocurrency? Not a ton in most cases. In fact, 73% of those who currently own crypto have spent less than $5,000. Still, more than 1 in 10 (12%) have spent $10,000 or more on it.

To use crypto as a form of payment, some crypto owners have crypto debit cards, but the majority (62%) don’t. Of that 62%, more than 4 in 10 (41%) are thinking about getting one though.

Risky business: Nearly a third of crypto investors don’t have their private key written down

Like losing a winning lottery ticket to a gust of wind, you may not be able to access your crypto funds if you lose your private key.

You get a certain amount of tries to input your password, but you’re out of luck if you’re wrong. And it happens. In fact, The New York Times reported in January that (according to data from Chainalysis) about $140 billion worth of Bitcoin was apparently lost or in stranded wallets.

So, it’s a bit concerning that of those surveyed, 32% said they don’t have the private key written down somewhere.

Those who buy crypto tend to be a bit skeptical about its security in general. More than 7 in 10 (73%) of crypto owners said they’re concerned with their crypto disappearing.

Different risk: Getting mad at your significant other because of crypto spending

Beyond losing your crypto key, another risk of using crypto may be angering your partner. The risk is real, too, as 71% of consumers with a significant other said they’d be mad if their partner spent money on cryptocurrency or NFTs.

However, the majority of that group would be OK with them spending a smaller amount on it:

  • 23% would be mad if their partner spent any amount of money on crypto/NFTs
  • 15% would be mad if their partner spent $100
  • 15% would be mad if their partner spent $500
  • 8% would be mad if their partner spent $1,000
  • 11% would be mad if their partner spent $5,000
  • 29% wouldn’t be mad no matter how much their partner spent

Those not interested in the crypto craze cite lack of trust, knowledge

While a lack of trust in crypto is the biggest reason people cite for not buying it (35%), others seem baffled by it. Another 32% said they wouldn’t know where to start and 24% said it’s too confusing.

That doesn’t mean they’re dead set against it though. Nearly 3 in 10 who’ve never invested in cryptocurrency would consider doing so at some point.

Willingness decreases with age, however, as 40% of Gen Zers who don’t invest in crypto would consider it, compared with:

  • 34% of millennials
  • 28% of Gen Xers
  • 21% of baby boomers

But wait, there’s more: Let’s talk nonfungible tokens, or NFTs

NFTs are essentially digital proof of ownership and authenticity of digital collectible items, such as video art, original memes, tweets and virtual trading cards. They’re not extremely popular at this point, but perhaps more so than you might think — particularly with younger generations.

They’re also slightly more popular with men (17%) than women (14%).

The reasons people said they purchase NFTs varied:

  • Dedicated fan of the creator (44%)
  • Just to see what they’re all about (36%)
  • Really into other forms of collectibles (21%)
  • Predict its value will increase over time (19%)
  • For clout or to look good on social media (18%)

Because each NFT is unique, Kapfidze said their value depends on how many others are interested in them.

As many of them are related to art, he compares NFTs to collecting art. Most art doesn’t appreciate in value significantly, but a few key pieces may, which is why art collectors often have large portfolios with hopes that those that gain value will make up for those that lose value.

Of course, you don’t know that in advance, so it’s a game of odds. Kapfdize said that may be one way to approach NFTs — buying them in large numbers to try to mitigate risk.

Methodology

MagnifyMoney commissioned Qualtrics to field an online survey of 1,048 Americans, conducted March 18-24, 2021. The survey was administered using a non-probability-based sample, and quotas were used to ensure the sample base represented the overall population. All responses were reviewed by researchers for quality control.

We defined generations as the following ages in 2021:

  • Generation Z: 18 to 24
  • Millennial: 25 to 40
  • Generation X: 41 to 55
  • Baby boomer: 56 to 75

While the survey also included consumers from the silent generation (defined as those 76 and older), the sample size was too small to include findings related to that group in the generational breakdowns.