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Review of Vanguard Personal Advisor 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 has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Vanguard Personal Advisor Services is the investment advisory service offered through Vanguard Advisers, a wholly owned subsidiary of Vanguard, Inc., one of the world’s largest investment management firms. Vanguard Personal Advisor Services focuses on serving individual investors, including high net worth individuals. Clients work with human advisors, but also have access to Vanguard’s digital advice platform.

All information included in this profile is accurate as of April 2, 2020. For more information, please consult Vanguard Personal Advisor Services website.

Assets under management: $83.7 billion
Minimum investment: $50,000
Fee structure: A percentage of AUM; one-time financial planning fee for some workplace retirement plan participants
Headquarters: 100 Vanguard Boulevard
Malvern, PA 19355
vanguard.com
800-416-8420

Overview of Vanguard Personal Advisor Services

Vanguard Personal Advisor Services is the investment advisory arm of Vanguard Advisers, a wholly owned subsidiary of Vanguard. The advisory part of the business launched in 2015, decades after Vanguard was founded in 1975 by the late John “Jack” Bogle.

Bogle introduced the first-ever index fund to retail investors and encouraged them to buy and hold a diverse basket of low-cost investments. Though Bogle passed away last year, the firm aims to continue his legacy.

Vanguard Personal Advisor Services is focused on providing ongoing advisory account services for individual investors as well as point-in-time financial planning for retirement plan participants. Vanguard Personal Advisor Services oversees $83.7 billion of Vanguard Advisers’ total $221 billion in assets under management (AUM).

Which types of clients does Vanguard Personal Advisor Services serve?

Vanguard Personal Advisor Services primarily serves individuals, including high net worth investors and those who get services through their workplace retirement plans. For reference, the SEC defines high net worth individuals as those with at least $750,000 under management or a net worth above $1.5 million.

The individual investors either come for financial planning via their workplace 401(k) plans, or they are retail investors with an IRA or other account with Vanguard. In the latter case, there’s a minimum investment requirement of $50,000. The firm does not provide financial planning services to clients who do not have accounts with Vanguard.

Services offered by Vanguard Personal Advisor Services

Vanguard Personal Advisor Services offers financial planning and point-in-time advice to participants in Vanguard workplace retirement plans. Those participants are not eligible for managed account services for assets in those plans.

Clients who have an IRA or other retail account worth at least $50,000 with Vanguard can use Vanguard Personal Advisor Services to get a customized financial plan and enroll in the firm’s “ongoing advised services.” That gives an advisor the authority to make trades on the client’s behalf in accordance with their agreed-upon plan. It also allows participants to call advisors about advice on financial issues that arise as they hit life’s milestones, such as buying a new house or having grandchildren.

Here is a full list of services offered by Vanguard Personal Advisor Services:

  • Investment advisory services/portfolio management
    • Asset allocation strategies
  • Financial planning
    • Retirement planning
    • Estate planning
    • Charitable giving
    • Succession planning
    • Tax planning and management

How Vanguard Personal Advisor Services invests your money

All participants in Vanguard Personal Advisor Services get a financial plan, including the creation of a portfolio with a diverse asset allocation that reflects your personal financial situation, goals and risk tolerance. To do that, the advisors rely on an algorithm, which recommends an investing track and glide path, or asset allocation strategy, that meets your needs. The investment tracks range from very conservative to very aggressive, and the glide paths adjust over time, depending on your goals.

Each portfolio includes a variety of Vanguard index funds with holdings in a specific asset class, such as international stocks or short-term bonds, but it does not recommend investments in individual stocks or bonds. In addition to diversification, the portfolios take taxes into account, aiming to keep the investments as tax-efficient as possible. In general, Vanguard encourages a long-term, buy-and-hold approach rather than switching strategies based on market performance.

Fees Vanguard Personal Advisor Services charges for its services

Employees who use Vanguard Financial Planning Services through their workplace retirement plan pay $1,000 for the service if they have less than $50,000 in assets with Vanguard, and $250 if they have $50,000 to $500,000 with Vanguard. The firm may waive that fee for clients who are over the age of 55 or who have more than $500,000 invested with Vanguard.

For clients of Vanguard Personal Advisor who don’t have a workplace retirement plan and are enrolled in the ongoing advised services, the firm charges a percentage of assets under management. Rates run from 0.30% for accounts of less than $5 million to 0.05% for accounts over $25 million.

Assets under management Annual rate
Under $5 million 0.30%
$5 million to under $10 million 0.20%
$10 million to under $25 million 0.10%
$25 million and over 0.05%

In addition to the above fees, you may also pay fund fees, annuity fees, account fees or retirement plan fees.

Vanguard Personal Advisor Services’s highlights

  • A dedication to low fees. Vanguard literally invented index investing, and the firm remains dedicated to keeping its fees low. Its fee schedule is substantially lower than the industry average total fee rate of 1.17%, according to RIA in a Box.
  • Excellent reputation. Vanguard Personal Advisor Services was named the “Brand of the Year” in 2019 for digital investing by Harris Poll EquiTrends. The title was awarded based on consumer devotion and respect.
  • Fee-only model. Advisors don’t receive commissions for selling products or making recommendations, so they do not have a financial incentive to do so, which can pose a potential conflict of interest.

Vanguard Personal Advisor Services’s downsides

  • High minimum balance for young investors. You need to have $50,000 invested with Vanguard (outside of your workplace retirement plan) to access its investment management services if your employer is not enrolled in the program. That could be a high bar for young investors or for those who haven’t been saving for long.
  • Less potential upside: Since Vanguard’s investment philosophy is built on a buy-and-hold strategy comprised of low-cost funds, you can expect your investments to perform in line with the markets, but advisors aren’t actively trading to try to “beat the market.”
  • Large digital component: While you’ll work with a human advisor to create your initial plan, future check-ins may take place via the platform’s digital interface. Clients with $500,000 or less in assets do not have an assigned financial advisor, though they can call to schedule an appointment at any time.

Vanguard Personal Advisor Services disciplinary disclosures

Vanguard Personal Advisor Services does not have any disciplinary disclosures. All registered investment advisors are required to disclose any legal, regulatory or criminal events in their Form ADV, documents they file with the SEC.

Vanguard Personal Advisor Services onboarding process

To learn more about working with Vanguard, you can call (800) 414-8740 or create an account online to set up an appointment to talk with an advisor. In your initial conversation, you’ll discuss your financial situation and goals, and share information about all your financial accounts. Your advisor(s) will spend a few weeks creating a plan, and then you can decide whether you want to implement that plan and allow them to manage the account on your behalf.

If your portfolio is worth less than $50,000, you’ll work with a team of advisors, while those with a portfolio worth more than $500,000 have a specific, dedicated financial advisor. Advisors will check on your portfolio on a quarterly basis, making adjustments as needed to your asset allocation. You can check in online or call your advisor or team at any time.

Is Vanguard Personal Advisor Services right for you?

The firm may be a good choice if you’re an investor with at least $50,000 looking for a low-cost, low-maintenance way to manage your money (or your employer has chosen Vanguard as its retirement plan provider). Vanguard Personal Advisors offers extremely low fees and boasts a clean disciplinary record.

For investors who have less than $50,000, or who are looking for a more active approach to asset management, another firm might be a better fit. As is always the case when choosing a financial product or service, it’s important to shop around, ask questions of financial advisors and make the choice that’s best for your unique situation.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

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Review of Modera Wealth Management

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 has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Modera Wealth Management is an East Coast wealth management firm with about 70 employees across six offices. All of its investment advisors either have a certified financial planner (CFP) designation or are studying to obtain it. The firm provides customized portfolios and wealth management services to both individuals and high net worth individuals, though it states on its website that its services are designed for those who have at least $2 million to invest. The firm currently has nearly $2.4 billion in assets under management (AUM).

All information included in this profile is accurate as of March 5, 2020. For more information, please consult Modera Wealth Management’s website.

Assets under management: $2,391,444,456
Minimum investment: None
Fee structure: Percentage of AUM for wealth management and portfolio management; hourly charges for financial planning and consulting; fixed fees for business and real estate coaching
Headquarters: 56 Jefferson Avenue
Westwood, NJ 07675
https://www.moderawealth.com/
(201) 768-4600

Overview of Modera Wealth Management

In 2011, registered investment firms Modera Capital and Back Bay Financial Group merged to form Modera Wealth Management. In the years since, the combined firm has merged with or acquired another five firms located throughout the country. The fast-growing independent firm is owned by a group of 17 principals, most of whom have had long careers in wealth management.

Modera Wealth Management has 69 employees across six offices in Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Of those employees, 39 serve as investment advisors, of which 33 are CFPs, a professional designation for financial planners. Those advisors who don’t have a CFP designation are working toward one.

What types of clients does Modera Wealth Management serve?

A little more than half of Moderal Wealth Management’s clients are high net worth individuals. However, the firm also has hundreds of individual clients who are not classified as high net worth individuals, which the SEC defines as those with at least $750,000 under management or a net worth of $1.5 million. Those individuals may include business owners; C-level executives; attorneys and accountants in partnerships; and physicians and dentists.

In addition to individual investors, Modera Wealth Management also provides services to pension plans, charitable organizations and businesses.

There is technically no minimum account size requirement at Modera. Due to its minimum fee requirements for its services, however, working with Modera may be more accessible to those with larger portfolios. Additionally, the firm states on its website that its services are designed for those with at least $2 million to invest.

Services offered by Modera Wealth Management

Modera Wealth Management splits its services into two broad categories: wealth management and portfolio management. Wealth management clients receive financial planning and consulting services, which can include business coaching or real estate services, along with discretionary- or non-discretionary asset management for all or a portion of their portfolio. For clients who have chosen discretionary management, the firm may make trades on their behalf without getting approval for individual transactions. Modera also conducts tax preparation for some wealth management clients.

Portfolio management clients receive discretionary or non-discretionary management of investment portfolios, but the service does not include financial planning. Portfolio management clients who want financial planning can pay for that separately.

The firm also provides investment consulting and monitoring services on outside accounts held with other institutions to some existing clients, as well as retirement plan consulting and management services.

Here is a full list of the services offered by Modera Wealth Management:

  • Portfolio management
  • Wealth management
  • Financial planning and consulting services
    • Business planning
    • Investment planning
    • Insurance planning
    • Retirement planning
    • Education planning
    • Estate planning
    • Tax planning
    • Cash flow forecasting
    • Divorce planning
    • Charitable giving
    • Wealth transfer strategies
  • Real estate coaching
  • Investment consulting and monitoring services
  • Retirement plan consulting and management services
  • Collaboration with clients’ lawyers, accountants, etc.

How Modera Wealth Management invests your money

Modera Wealth Management makes investment decisions based on Modern Portfolio Theory, which holds the following tenets:

  • The markets do a fairly good job of pricing securities.
  • Diversification is essential.
  • Increased risk can create the potential for greater returns.

Modera works with each client to create a portfolio tailored to their financial situation that achieves the highest rate of return with the least amount of risk. It also focuses on minimizing taxes and keeping overall costs down.

The firm’s portfolios primarily include mutual funds, exchange-traded funds and bonds, though they may also include some allocation to a third-party independent managers or non-traditional assets, such as commodities or real estate. For accredited investors, the firm may also recommend private investments, such as equity, bonds or pooled investment vehicles.

Fees Modera Wealth Management charges for its services

Modera Wealth Management has the discretion to negotiate or waive fees. However, it typically charges between 0.15% to 1.00% of assets under management for wealth management services, with a minimum quarterly fee of $5,000. The typical fee for portfolio management services is 0.10% to 0.80% of assets under management, with a minimum quarterly fee of $4,000. Clients may also have to pay transaction costs, commissions or other fees to third-party financial institutions if their portfolio includes such investments.

Financial planning costs are included in wealth management services, but those who opt for portfolio management services will need to pay separately for financial planning. Typical financial planning fees range from $200 to $500 per hour, or $2,000 to $10,000 on a fixed fee basis. Modera usually imposes a minimum fee of $2,000 for all financial planning and consulting services, which can be assessed on a per project basis. If a client later engages the firm for wealth management, it may offset the cost of wealth management by the fees already paid.

Business and real estate coaching carry separate fees, ranging from $2,000 to $25,000 per quarter. Clients who use Modera Wealth Management for investment monitoring or consulting may pay additional fees of $7,000 to $50,000 per year, which may cover financial planning services as well.

Modera Wealth Management’s highlights

  • Highly-credentialed staff: Most of Modera Wealth Management’s financial advisors are certified financial planners, meaning they’ve undergone rigorous training and testing and are held to a fiduciary standard. There are also advisors at the firm with a variety of other respected designations, including certified public accountants (CPA) and chartered financial analysts (CFA), as well as employees who have earned MBAs and JDs.
  • Fee-only model: The firm does not earn commissions, instead only making money through the fees that its clients pay. This means that there is no conflict of interest when it recommends a product or refers clients to another service provider.
  • Personalized attention: Modera creates customized portfolios for its clients that take into account their individual financial situation. Each client has a dedicated team working with them that includes a lead advisor, support advisor and client service advisor.
  • Industry recognition and awards: The firm has appeared for each of the past five years on The Financial Times’ list of the Top 300 RIA Firms. Additionally, the firm has received multiple awards for its role as an employer, appearing on Pension & Investments’ 2019 list of the “Best Places to Work in Money Management” and Investment News’ 2019 list of the “Best Places to Work for Financial Advisors.”
  • No disciplinary disclosures: Modera Wealth Management has a clean disciplinary record (see more below)

Modera Wealth Management’s downsides

  • High fees for lower-balance investors: While the firm does not have a minimum investment balance, it states on its website that its services are meant for people with at least $2 million to invest. Clients with significantly less than that amount will pay much higher fees as a percentage of their assets under management, since the firm charges a minimum fee of $16,000 per year for portfolio management and $20,000 per year for wealth management.
  • Limited geographic footprint: Modera Wealth Management has six offices along the East Coast, from Massachusetts to Florida. That makes it an impractical choice for those who live further west and prefer an advisor with whom they can meet in person. However, for those comfortable with a long-distance relationship, Modera is registered to work with investors in a total of 24 states.
  • Preferred brokers: Modera Wealth Management has relationships with Schwab, TD Ameritrade, Fidelity and National Advisors Trust, and it may recommend that clients choose these brokerages as their custodian. While the firm does not receive financial compensation for sending clients to those brokerages, clients may be able to purchase some investments at lower prices from a different firm.

Modera Wealth Management disciplinary disclosures

If an SEC-registered firm or its employees face a disciplinary action, such as a criminal charge, regulatory infraction or civil lawsuit, the firm must report that incident on its Form ADV, paperwork that registered firms must file with the SEC. According to Modera Wealth Management’s Form ADV, it has faced no such incidents and has a clean disciplinary record.

Modera Wealth Management onboarding process

If you’re interested in working with Modera Wealth Management, you can fill out the online form provided on the firm’s website or call a local office. The process begins with a meeting in which you’ll discuss your financial situation and goals with your three-person team, including an advisor, a support advisor and a client service advisor. Your team will then use that information to come up with a portfolio and, if you’re a wealth management client, a financial plan.

Then, the advisors will work toward implementing your plan. The process may include conversations with other professionals in your life, such as your lawyer, accountant or insurance agent. Going forward, you’ll be in touch with your advisors as often as you’d like, though clients typically have formal discussions twice per year.

Is Modera Wealth Management right for you?

If you have at least $2 million to invest and live on the East Coast, Modera Wealth Management may be a good choice. You’ll get personalized services and conflict-free advice, thanks to the firm’s fee-only business model. While the firm does have many clients who are not high net worth investors, its services are designed for those with an account balance of at least $2 million and those with smaller portfolios may pay proportionally higher fees. For investors with less money to invest, other wealth management firms may offer similar services at a lower prices.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

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Review of Altium Wealth Management

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 has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Altium Wealth Management is a relatively small financial advisory firm offering customized wealth management and financial planning services. It employs 19 investment advisors in its single office in Purchase, N.Y., and it works primarily with individuals who can invest at least $1 million. The firm currently oversees about $1.2 billion in assets under management (AUM).

All information included in this profile is accurate as of March 3, 2020. For more information, please consult Altium Wealth Management’s website.

Assets under management: $1,202,940,722
Minimum investment: $1 million
Fee structure: Percentage of AUM; hourly fees for financial planning and consulting
Headquarters: 2500 Westchester Avenue, Suite 210
Purchase, NY 10577
www.altiumwealth.com
877-780-0074

Overview of Altium Wealth Management

Founded in 2010 in an effort to create a client-centric firm that differed from the traditional industry model, Altium Wealth Management provides both wealth management and financial planning services. The fast-growing firm currently has 44 employees, including 19 that serve as investment advisors.

The firm is owned by its seven managing directors, four of whom are certified financial planners (CFP), a designation that requires rigorous training and testing and adherence to strict ethical guidelines. Many of Altium’s managing directors have been with the firm since it launched.

What types of clients does Altium Wealth Management serve?

Altium Wealth Management works primarily with individuals and high net worth individuals, who the SEC defines as those with at least $750,000 in AUM or a net worth of at least $1.5 million.

Altium typically requires a minimum account balance of $1 million, but it occasionally works with those who have less money to invest. Sometimes, it aggregates the accounts of family members in order to reach the $1 million threshold.

In addition to individual investors, the firm also provides services to a handful of charitable organizations and college endowments.

Services offered by Altium Wealth Management

Altium Wealth Management specializes in providing wealth management and financial planning services to individual investors. Wealth management services are offered on a discretionary basis, meaning that Altium Wealth Management advisors can make trades on behalf of their clients.

Clients can take advantage of the firm’s financial planning services on a one-time basis, but they’re typically offered as part of an ongoing wealth management relationship.

Here is a full list of services offered by the firm:

  • Investment and wealth management services
  • Financial planning
    • Business planning
    • Cash flow forecasting
    • Trust and estate planning
    • Financial reporting
    • Investment consulting
    • Fixed income support services
    • Retirement planning
    • Risk management
    • Charitable giving
    • Insurance planning
    • Family governance
  • Retirement plan consulting services

How Altium Wealth Management invests your money

Altium Wealth Management works with each client to create a unique investment plan and portfolio tailored to their financial situation, goals and risk tolerance. The firm’s investment committee researches investment options and uses a proprietary scorecard to rate potential investments. The method allows the firm to analyze each investment quantitatively, looking at fees, performance, risk, manager experience and other factors, and then compare it to relevant benchmarks.

Based on 10- to 15-year capital markets assumptions (unless a client’s needs mandate otherwise), portfolios typically are comprised of a diverse blend of investments including stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and mutual funds. The firm may also invest clients’ money with independent managers or private investment vehicles, such as hedge funds or private equity funds.

When appropriate, Altium may also use a fixed-income strategy, for which it charges an additional fee (see more below).

Fees Altium Wealth Management charges for its services

For investment advisory services, Altium Wealth Management charges a fee based on a percentage of their assets under management. Rates are negotiable but many clients pay based on the following rates:

Assets under management Annual fee
First $1 million 1.25%
Next $4 million 0.75%
Next $5 million 0.50%
Any funds over $10 million 0.25%

Investors whose portfolio includes a fixed-income strategy pay an additional 0.20% on those assets. Clients may also owe additional fees to cover third-party charges for transactions made on their behalf with other financial institutions, such as broker-dealers, custodians or banks.

For financial planning services, clients pay either a fixed or hourly fee that depends on the scope and complexity of the services provided. While rates are negotiable, the typical range for one-time, project-based services is a fixed fee of $5,000 to $25,000 or an hourly rate of $150 to $750 per hour. For ongoing financial planning, fees are also negotiable and range from $2,000 to $25,000 per year.

Altium Wealth Management’s highlights

  • Industry recognition: Altium Wealth Management has received numerous industry awards. In 2019, it was included on RIA Channel’s list of the Top 100 Wealth Managers and CityWire RIA’s Future 50 RIAs, a list of “the leaders in the highly competitive and growing industry.”
  • Customized investment approach: The firm designs individualized portfolios for each client based on their specific needs, rather than lumping them into model portfolios. Each portfolio reflects the client’s financial situation, time horizon and risk tolerance.
  • No disciplinary disclosures: Altium Wealth Management has a clean regulatory record (see more below.)

Altium Wealth Management’s downsides

  • High account minimum: The firm’s $1 million minimum account balance requirement excludes many potential clients. That said, Altium Wealth Management sometimes accepts smaller portfolios, and it currently has more than 500 clients who are not considered high-net worth individuals.
  • Potential conflicts of interest: Some Altium Wealth Management advisors are also licensed insurance agents — that means they may earn a commission for recommending certain insurance products to you, which can create a potential conflict of interest.
  • Higher than average fees: Altium Wealth Management charges 1.25% of assets under management for the first $1 million in a portfolio, slightly higher than the industry average of 1.17%, according to RIA in a Box. While Altium’s rates do decrease as the account balance grows, the first $1 million will remain subject to that higher rate.

Altium Wealth Management disciplinary disclosures

Altium Wealth Management does not have any disciplinary disclosures on its record. Investment advisors who face disciplinary action, including criminal charges, regulatory infractions or civil actions, must report those incidents on the Form ADV that they file with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Altium Wealth Management onboarding process

Clients interested in working with Altium Wealth Management can call the firm at 877-780-0074 or email [email protected]. A client’s relationship with the firm starts with an initial planning meeting in which the clients discuss their financial goals and risk tolerance with their advisor. They then work with the advisor to create an Investment Policy Statement summarizing those goals and objectives and outlining a strategy to achieve them.

Next, the firm creates an asset allocation strategy based on that policy statement and builds a portfolio that executes that strategy. The firm continues to monitor and manage the portfolio, checking in with the client at least once a year. Clients also get access to a digital platform that lets them see their finances from a holistic perspective.

Clients who want full financial planning services in addition to wealth management can request them for an additional fee.

The bottom line: Is Altium Wealth Management right for you?

Altium Wealth Management could be a good choice if you can invest at least $1 million and are looking for personalized investment services. The firm only has one office, in Purchase, N.Y., so it may be best suited to clients who live in the region. However, it is registered to serve investors in other states; consult Altium to find out its availability in your location.

Investors who have a smaller account balance or live in other parts of the country where Altium is not registered might be better suited to work with a different firm. Additionally, potential clients should be aware that some Altium Wealth Management advisors are also insurance agents, which could create a conflict of interest when they recommend products. As with any financial service, it’s important to do your research and compare your options to ensure you find the right fit for your situation.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.