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Review of Churchill Management Group

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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Churchill Management Group provides investment management and financial planning services, primarily to individual investors. The independent firm is a registered investment advisor with 57 employees, 48 of whom serve as investment advisors. It is headquartered in Los Angeles and has an additional 33 offices across the country. The team currently oversees more than $6.5 billion in assets under management (AUM).

All information included in this profile is accurate as of August 28, 2020. For more information, please consult Churchill Management Group’s website.

Assets under management: $6,552,311,084
Minimum investment: $750,000 preferred
Fee structure: A percentage of AUM
Headquarters: 5900 Wilshire Boulevard
Suite 400
Los Angeles, CA 90036
https://www.churchillmanagement.com/
(877) 937-7110

Overview of Churchill Management Group

Churchill Management Group owner and CEO Fred Fern founded the firm in 1963 at the age of 25 without any formal training in investing. Fern, a protégé of high-profile stockbroker William O’Neil, has since grown the firm to 57 employees.

The firm has a presence in the northwestern, western, eastern and central U.S.

What types of clients does Churchill Management Group serve?

Churchill Management Group primarily serves individuals and 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, it also counts as clients pension and profit-sharing plans, charitable organizations and corporations and other businesses.

The firm prefers clients with accounts of at least $750,000. Clients with at least $1 million in assets may invest in Chartwell Funds, the firm’s real estate investment fund, though the firm notes it may waive this minimum requirement at its discretion.

Services offered by Churchill Management Group

Churchill Management Group provides clients with investment management services as well as financial planning and retirement plan services for plan sponsors. The firm typically manages money on a discretionary basis, meaning portfolio managers handle daily decision making for the account without having to check in with the client first.

Here is a full list of services that Churchill Management Group can provide:

  • Investment advisory services
  • Financial planning
    • Retirement planning
    • Existing trust and estate plan outline
    • Education planning
    • Tax review
    • Cash flow analysis
    • Net worth analysis
    • Insurance needs analysis
    • Social Security analysis
    • Risk tolerance assessment
    • Goal identification and achievement plan
  • 401(k) consulting
  • Collaboration with clients’ lawyers, accountants, etc.

How Churchill Management Group invests your money

Churchill Management Group believes that markets behave cyclically. The firm uses an active trading strategy, adjusting its approach based on where the markets are in any given cycle. Its investment team employs “top-down” analysis to make decisions about asset allocation, and a “bottom-up” approach when choosing individual investments within asset classes.

The firm creates portfolios based on each client’s individual goals and risk tolerance. Depending on this, it may employ one of four strategies:

  • Tactical strategies: Focus on staying invested in low-risk markets and reducing exposure in high-risk markets
  • Fully invested strategies: Remain invested regardless of market risk
  • Combination strategies: Combine approaches from tactical and fully invested strategies
  • Fixed income strategies: Use diverse, investment-grade bonds to build a portfolio

Some clients may also invest in real estate partnerships, or Chartwell Funds, the firm’s real estate investment fund.

Fees Churchill Management Group charges for its services

Churchill Management Group charges clients based on a percentage of assets under management for its services. The rate is negotiable, but the fee schedule for all portfolios – with the exception of the Maximum Tactical Growth Strategy – is as follows in the table below. The rate for clients in the Maximum Tactical Growth Strategy is 1.25%.

Churchill Management Group Fee Schedule
Account Size Annual Rate
Under $750,000 1.20%
$750,000 or more and less than $2.5 million 1.00%
Next $2.5 million 0.80%
Next $5 million 0.70%
Any remaining balance 0.60%

In addition to the fee that clients pay to Churchill Management Group, they may also owe additional transaction fees or brokerage commissions to third-party firms. Financial planning is typically included as part of the firm’s wealth management services.

Churchill Management Group’s highlights

  • Financial planning included: Churchill Management Group offers holistic financial planning via a certified financial planner (CFP) without an additional charge to investment management clients. Some other firms charge extra for this service, or don’t require planners to have a CFP license.
  • Industry recognition: The firm, its advisors and its strategies have earned accolades within the wealth management community over the years. The firm recently appeared on Financial Times’ 2020 list of the Top 300 Registered Investment Advisors and on Barron’s 2019 list of America’s Best RIA Firms. In 2019, the firm’s president, Randy Conner, ranked No. 14 on Forbes’ 2019 list of America’s Top Wealth Advisors.
  • Clean disciplinary record: Churchill Management Group reports no material disciplinary or legal events against the firm or its employees in the past 10 years (see more on this below).

Churchill Management Group’s downsides

  • Preference for wealthier clients: While Churchill Management Group does not have a hard account minimum, it prefers clients who have at least $750,000 invested with the firm, and charges higher fees to clients with smaller accounts.
  • Potentially higher fees: Many of the firm’s funds use an active trading strategy. This style of portfolio management may create higher costs for clients, especially since they’re responsible for brokerage and other investment fees in addition to the fees they pay to Churchill Management Group. In addition, at 1.20%, the firm’s rate for those with the lowest account balance is slightly above the industry average of 1.17%, according to a 2019 study by RIA in a Box.
  • Pays for referrals: Churchill Management Group pays some third parties for referrals, and it may direct clients to a broker in exchange for a referral. That could create an incentive for the firm to recommend a brokerage that it might not otherwise recommend, which poses a potential conflict of interest.

Churchill Management Group disciplinary disclosures

Churchill Management Group does not have any disciplinary events to disclose, which means that the firm has had a clean record for at least 10 years. All registered investment advisors must disclose any civil, regulatory or criminal actions against the firm, its advisors or its affiliates on their Form ADV, public documents that registered firms must file with the SEC.

Churchill Management Group onboarding process

Potential clients can contact Churchill Management Group via their regional office or by filling out the contact form provided on the firm’s website. Once you’re in touch, you will work with members of the Churchill team to discuss your financial situation and create a portfolio that makes sense for it.

After that, the team will periodically get in touch to discuss your account, but clients also can call the firm at any time. Clients will also receive monthly, quarterly and year-end statements.

Is Churchill Management Group right for you?

Churchill Management Group may be the right firm for you if you have more than $750,000 to invest and would prefer an actively managed portfolio. If you have a lower account balance, however, or would prefer a more passive investing strategy, you may be better served by another firm.

As always, when searching for a financial advisor, it’s important to compare multiple options and ask advisors questions to ensure you’re finding someone to work with who can meet your needs.

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Review of Brighton Jones

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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Brighton Jones LLC is an independent, full-service wealth management firm that works primarily with individual investors and high net worth individuals. It’s a registered investment advisor (RIA) that has a team of 140 employees across its Seattle headquarters and offices in Portland; San Francisco; Denver; Scottsdale, Ariz.; and Washington, D.C. Together, the team oversees nearly $6.8 billion in assets under management (AUM).

All information included in this profile is accurate as of August 18, 2020. For more information, please consult Brighton Jones’ website.

Assets under management: $6,799,683,585
Minimum investment: N/A
Fee structure: A percentage of AUM; hourly charges; fixed fees
Headquarters: 2030 1st Ave.
3rd Floor
Seattle, WA 98121
www.brightonjones.com
(206) 258-5000

Overview of Brighton Jones

Charles Brighton and Jon Jones founded Brighton Jones in Seattle in 1999. The two then-partners at Deloitte decided they wanted to create a business aimed at providing more-holistic financial advice to clients at a lower cost. Brighton and Jones remain co-owners of the firm. Jones serves as CEO, while Brighton is the managing director of its family office services.

The fee-only firm was ranked in May 2020 as the largest wealth management firm in Washington state as of 2019, and it has offices in an additional four states plus the District of Columbia. It has 140 employees, about half of whom serve as investment advisors. The staff has a range of expertise and includes certified financial planners (CFP), accountants, lawyers and certified commercial investment members (CCIM), who are experts in commercial real estate.

Types of clients that Brighton Jones serves

Brighton Jones serves mostly individual investors. Its client base includes more than twice as many high net worth individuals as other clients. (For reference, the Securities and Exchange Commission [SEC] defines high net worth individuals as those who have at least $750,000 in AUM or a net worth of at least $1.5 million.) In addition, the firm works with pension and profit-sharing plans, as well as pooled investment vehicles and charitable organizations.

The firm has clients from Seattle-based companies, as well as those who work in health care, law, media, finance and technology. Brighton Jones doesn’t list a minimum account balance. However, it charges a minimum quarterly fee of $2,500, so those who have fewer assets might find it cost-prohibitive to engage with the firm.

Services offered by Brighton Jones

Brighton Jones aims to serve as a “Personal CFO,” providing holistic advice to individuals and families as a chief financial officer would for a company. Clients can receive wealth management services on a discretionary basis, in which the advisor makes the daily trading decisions in the account without requiring the client to sign off, or a nondiscretionary basis. Financial planning is offered alongside the firm’s investment advisory services or as a stand-alone service.

The firm also advises clients on managing their real-estate portfolio and helps executives to evaluate and make the most of their compensation packages.

Here is a full list of services offered by Brighton Jones:

  • Wealth management
  • Financial planning
    • Retirement planning
    • Estate planning
    • Charitable planning
    • Tax planning and management
    • Education planning
    • Divorce planning
    • Insurance and risk management
    • Coordination with outside experts
  • Executive compensation analysis
  • Retirement plan consulting and management
  • Financial wellness consulting on behalf of employers
  • Real-estate advisory services

How Brighton Jones invests your money

Brighton Jones’ customized portfolios vary based on each client’s financial situation, but the firm’s overall philosophy is based on an investment approach that includes diversification among and within asset classes. Asset classes might include fixed-income securities, individual equities, funds and real estate investment trusts (REITs), and the firm might invest in them through a combination of short- and long-term purchases, margin transactions or options.

To evaluate potential investments, Brighton Jones uses the following methods of analysis:

  • Fundamental: Analyzes historical and current data to make financial forecasts.
  • Technical: Uses historical and current data on price and trade volume to forecast the direction of prices.
  • Cyclical: Examines the historical relationship between price and market trends to predict the direction of prices.

Fees Brighton Jones charges for its services

For wealth management services, Brighton Jones charges clients based on a percentage of AUM. The rate typically ranges from 0.35% to 1.25% of total AUM, depending on factors such as the level of AUM, the complexity and level of services provided, anticipated future earnings and assets and the account representative assigned to the account. The firm requires a minimum quarterly fee of $2,500, although it might waive or reduce that minimum at its discretion.

The asset-based rate listed above includes financial planning and consulting services if requested by the client, although the firm might charge extra if the client requires extraordinary service. Clients who want stand-alone financial planning or consulting work will pay negotiated fees, which typically range from $2,000 to $15,000 on a fixed-fee basis or $150-$300 per hour.

In addition to fees charged by the firm, clients might owe separate brokerage costs to Fidelity or TD Ameritrade, which typically serve as broker-dealers for Brighton Jones clients.

Brighton Jones’ highlights

  • Fee-only service model: Brighton Jones is a fee-only firm, meaning it only earns money from the fees its clients pay. This model means that clients don’t have to worry that the firm benefits financially from recommending certain products, which could pose potential conflicts of interest.
  • Broad range of services: Brighton Jones is a one-stop shop for clients who seek holistic financial planning or additional services. It offers a wide range of financial planning services as well as real-estate advisory and services for employers.
  • Customized advice and management: The firm doesn’t take a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, it works with each client to build and manage a portfolio based on their financial situation. The firm’s holistic approach also goes beyond a client’s portfolio to advise on other financial decisions, such as risk management and estate planning, as requested by the client.
  • Industry accolades: The firm has received numerous awards and recognition. In 2019, Brighton and Jones appeared on Barron’s list of the 100 best independent advisors. The firm appeared on Financial Advisor’s 2019 list of top-ranked RIAs.
  • Clean disciplinary record: Brighton Jones reports no material disciplinary events on its record over the past 10 years. (See more below.)

Brighton Jones’ downsides

  • Unclear fees: Because fees at the firm are negotiated on a case-by-case basis, it’s difficult to know how much you’ll owe until you connect with an advisor. Although Brighton Jones’ fees could be lower than the industry average of 1.17% of AUM, according to a 2019 study by RIA in a Box, the firm’s minimum quarterly fee of $2,500 — $10,000 per year — could make it more costly for clients who have fewer assets.
  • Limited geographic footprint: Brighton Jones has only six offices — five out West and its Washington, D.C., location. Those who want a local advisor might not be able to find one.
  • Pays for referrals: Brighton Jones pays certain third parties to refer clients. Although clients won’t incur any cost, this still is important to keep in mind if someone recommends the firm to you, because you might want to consider whether they’re making the recommendation because the firm truly seems like a good fit for your financial situation or they simply stand to benefit financially from recommending it.

Brighton Jones’ disciplinary disclosures

Brighton Jones has had no disclosures over the past 10 years. All registered investment advisors must disclose in their Form ADV documents filed with the SEC any civil, criminal or regulatory actions against its firm, employees or affiliates that clients would consider material when evaluating the firm or its management team.

Brighton Jones’ onboarding process

Potential clients can contact Brighton Jones directly by contacting a local office, filling out this online form or calling the firm’s main line at (206) 258-5000.

After an initial interview in which the firm learns about a client’s financial situation, the firm will create and manage a portfolio based on that information. The firm will get in touch with clients at least quarterly to discuss the account and whether changes are necessary. Clients also can expect to receive quarterly reports.

Is Brighton Jones right for you?

Brighton Jones might be a good choice if you’re comfortable with a minimum annual fee of at least $10,000 and want access to other financial services beyond portfolio management, such as assistance with understanding and making the most of your compensation package.

Investors who hope to spend less on wealth management or who want in-person service but don’t live near one of Brighton Jones’ offices, might be served better by a different wealth management firm. Whenever you look for a financial-services provider, interview a few candidates to make sure you choose one that’s the right fit for your financial situation.

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Review of Hightower 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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Hightower Advisors is a Chicago-based private equity-backed network of advisors, many of whom operate under individual brand names. The advisors provide discretionary advisory, wealth management and financial planning services, among others.

Currently, Hightower Advisors has 344 investment advisors working in offices across 34 states. It serves mostly individuals and high net worth individuals, as well as a selection of institutional investors. The firm oversees $57 billion in assets under management (AUM).

All information included in this profile is accurate as of August 7, 2020. For more information, please consult Hightower Advisors’ website.

Assets under management: $57,000,000,000
Minimum investment: None
Fee structure: A percentage of AUM; hourly charges; fixed fees; retainer or service fees
Headquarters: 200 W. Madison St., Ste. 2500
Chicago IL 60606
www.hightoweradvisors.com
(312) 962-3800

Overview of Hightower Advisors

Hightower Advisors is a private equity-backed registered investment advisor that offers financial advisory services through its network of over 100 advisory firms across the U.S., many of which operate under different names. The firm was founded in 2008 by Elliot Weissbluth, an attorney and financial services executive, who served as the firm’s CEO until 2019 and is now chairman.

Private equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners acquired a significant stake in the business in 2017, and is now a majority owner of the firm, although some advisors and employees also have an ownership stake. In recent years, the firm has grown via RIA acquisitions, a strategy that it plans to step up in the near term.

Hightower Advisors has 566 employees, including 344 who serve as investment advisors. The firm has a presence across 34 states, with locations in most regions.

What types of clients does Hightower Advisors serve?

Hightower Advisors serves both individuals and high net worth individuals, though its predominant focus is on individuals without a high net worth. For reference, the SEC defines high net worth individuals as those with at least $750,000 under management or a net worth of at least $1.5 million. In addition to individual investors, Hightower Advisors also works with pension and profit-sharing plans, charitable organizations and corporations and other types of businesses.

The firm does not have a minimum account balance. However, it notes that certain services and fee structures may not benefit portfolios of less than $500,000 due to the impact of trading and transaction costs.

Services offered by Hightower Advisors

Hightower Advisors provides a range of financial services to clients, including financial planning and investment advisory services, offered through its individual investment practices that each have their own strategy and focus.

Most of Hightower Advisor’s investment management services are offered on a discretionary basis, meaning that it does not consult the client before making every trade. Advisors may or may not regularly review and update client financial plans, depending on the terms of the client agreement.

Here is a full list of services that Hightower Advisors is capable of providing:

  • Investment advisory services
  • Financial planning
    • Retirement planning
    • Estate planning
    • Education planning
    • Cash management and certain treasury services
    • Asset allocation review and recommendations
    • Insurance planning/risk management
  • Advising for retirement plan sponsors or trustees
  • Private fund management

How Hightower Advisors invests your money

In early 2020, Hightower Advisors launched a new branding campaign centered around the tagline “well-thy. rebalanced,” aimed at conveying the firm’s collective focus on holistic wellness.

The firm uses several methods of analysis when managing portfolios:

  • Charting: Reviewing an investment’s performance in graphic form
  • Fundamental analysis: Evaluating a company’s past and present financial statements
  • Technical analysis: Looking for patterns and trends within a specific sector or security
  • Quantitative analysis: Using mathematical and statistical models to understand the behavior of a sector or security

Hightower Advisors creates portfolios using a variety of investment strategies, including long- and short-term purchases, trading, options, shorts and margin transactions.

Fees Hightower Advisors charges for its services

Depending on the services provided and the agreement between the client and the advisor, Hightower Advisors earns money through a percentage of assets under management, fixed fees and/or other one-time fees. Clients who receive limited-scope financial planning or wealth management may pay hourly fees, which are also determined on a case-by-case basis.

Wealth management clients can either get services through a wrap program, in which the fee will cover all transaction costs, or they can opt out of the wrap program and pay all transaction costs separately.

Hightower Advisors’s highlights

  • Broad accessibility: Hightower has no minimum balance requirement, making it possible for most investors to connect with an advisor at the firm. However, Hightower does suggest that some services and products wouldn’t be a good fit for those with less than $500,000 to invest due to trading and transaction costs.
  • Industry recognition: The firm’s advisors have received numerous awards and accolades, including recognition on the Forbes 2020 list of “Top Women Wealth Advisors,” Barron’s 2020 list of the “Top 100 Financial Advisors”; and Barron’s 2020 list of “America’s Top Wealth Teams”.
  • Clean disciplinary record: The firm has not had to disclose any civil or regulatory issues over the last 10 years.

Hightower Advisors’s downsides

  • No published fee schedule: Since clients’ fees are set on a case-by-case basis, it’s impossible to know what services will cost without speaking to an advisor. Additionally, some clients may pay based on a different fee schedule for some services than others and could see a variation in fees even when similar investment strategies are used.
  • Preferred brokers: Hightower Advisors has an established relationship with several broker-dealers, including Fidelity, National Financial Services, Schwab, TD Ameritrade, JP Morgan and Pershing, and it will generally recommend these brokers to clients. While Hightower does not receive financial compensation for using these brokerages, clients may be able to purchase some investments at lower prices from a different firm.
  • Potential conflicts of interest related to commissions: Hightower Advisors may receive commissions for the sale of certain insurance products and annuities as well as for services provided under as registered representatives for Hightower Securities, LLC, a broker-dealer under common ownership with the firm. This creates potential conflicts of interest as advisors may be financially incentivized to recommend certain products.

Hightower Advisors disciplinary disclosures

Hightower Advisors did not have any disciplinary events to disclose, meaning it has a clean record. All registered investment advisors are required to disclose any civil, regulatory or criminal events related to the firm, its employees or its affiliates in their Form ADV paperwork that they file with the SEC.

Hightower Advisors onboarding process

To get started working with the firm, find a local advisor using this online tool. If after connecting with an advisor you decide to move forward, you’ll sign either a discretionary or a non-discretionary client agreement, which outlines the services you’ll receive and the associated fees. Discretionary clients will also work with their advisor to create an investment policy statement, which the advisor will use to create and manage an appropriate portfolio.

Investment management clients will receive a review at least once per year from their advisory team, although many advisors are in touch more frequently. Communications may take place via phone calls, in-person meetings and strategy reviews. Additional reviews may take place as necessary when there’s a significant change in the financial picture of the client or economic events.

Is Hightower Advisors right for you?

Hightower Advisors may be a good choice for investors looking for holistic financial planning and discretionary portfolio management. The firm’s presence in 34 states also makes it accessible for investors in many regions. However, some of the firm’s products and services may not be a good fit for investors with less than $500,000 to invest. Additionally, some advisors may earn commissions for recommending certain insurance products, which could pose a conflict of interest.

As always, when choosing financial services, it’s important to understand the experience of the provider and how much you’re paying for its services. Be sure to research multiple firms before selecting the one that’s best for you.

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.