Best Financial Advisors in Buffalo, NY 2021: Fees and Services

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Updated on Thursday, August 12, 2021

Choosing a financial advisor Buffalo, NY can be challenging given the number of financial advisors in the “Queen City.” Finding the right advisor is a lot about figuring out the proper fit, which calls for understanding your financial needs and goals as well as how much you can spend.

That being said, we understand it can be difficult to compare firms and data points, so we compiled the most important information to help guide your decision. To determine the best advisors in New York’s second-largest city, we only considered financial advisory firms in Buffalo that manage individual accounts and offer financial planning services. We then ranked these firms based on assets under management (AUM), which serves as a general metric for a firm’s size. Although not formally part of our ranking, we encourage readers to take note of each firm’s client-to-advisor ratio, as this indicates how much attention you may get as a client. All data used in our methodology is taken from each firm’s most recent Form ADV filing with the SEC so as to ensure the accuracy and reliability of our rankings.

Our ranking is not indicative of which firm in Buffalo may be best for you, but it can help make the shopping experience easier — or at least easier than digging out from under a day’s worth of lake effect snow. Take a look at our list below for the top firms in Buffalo, NY, and their key highlights:

8 best financial advisors in Buffalo, NY

Methodology and criteria

For our search, we looked at firms across the city of Buffalo. 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. Information used for our methodology criteria is taken directly from each firm’s most recent Form ADV filing and brochure, found on the IAPD database.

To localize our results for this list, we exclusively looked at firms that met the above criteria and had their headquarters in Buffalo, as per the address provided in the Form ADV. Of those firms, we only considered those that offer financial planning services and portfolio management to individual investors. To be considered for this list, firms could also have no more than one disciplinary disclosure in the past 10 years. From there, the remaining firms that met all of the above stipulations were ranked in order of highest to lowest AUM, as this is an indication of a firm’s size and how many assets it has been entrusted to manage.

In our reviews, we have also listed several other key features that will help you determine which financial advisor may be most fitting for your investing style and financial needs. While our ranking system and methodology is designed to help you compare firms, it does not indicate which firm may be best for you. All information here is accurate as of August 3, 2021, but we urge you to also evaluate these firms on https://adviserinfo.sec.gov/.

1. Courier Capital, LLC

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  • Minimum assets required: None
  • AUM: $2,044,051,238
  • Individual investor to advisor ratio: 92:1
  • Fee structure:
    • A percentage of AUM
    • Fixed fees
  • Firm phone number: 716-883-9595
  • Headquarters address:
    1114 Delaware Ave., Buffalo, NY 14209

About Courier Capital, LLC

In 2016, the publicly traded financial services firm Financial Institutions, Inc. purchased investment management firm Courier Capital Corporation, which was founded in 1967. The firm has provided services under the name Courier Capital, LLC since 2016, remaining wholly owned by Financial Institutions, Inc.

Courier Capital provides investment management and consulting services, as well as financial planning and retirement plan services. It primarily works with individual investors, including high net worth individuals (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). However, its client base also includes charitable organizations, pension and profit-sharing plans and businesses.

In addition to its Buffalo headquarters, Courier Capital has an office in Jamestown, N.Y.

Courier Capital, LLC investing strategy

Courier Capital management creates an investment strategy for each client based on their current financial situation and ultimate financial goals. Depending on the client’s needs, the firm will typically recommend a model portfolio, ranging from conservative to aggressive. However, the firm also uses separately managed accounts with a more traditional style of direct portfolio management for some high net worth and/or long-term clients.

Model portfolios created by Courier Capital typically include mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs), while separately managed accounts might include individual stocks and bonds. The firm may also recommend investments with third-party managers.

Courier Capital, LLC disciplinary disclosures

Courier Capital does not report any disciplinary disclosures. As a firm registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Courier Capital must report any information that would be material to clients evaluating the firm, including any civil, criminal or regulatory events involving the firm, its employees or its affiliates in the past 10 years.

For more information, visit Courier Capital’s IAPD page.

2. Sanderson Wealth Management, LLC

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  • Minimum assets required: $500,000
  • AUM: $858,074,679
  • Individual investor to advisor ratio: 27:1
  • Fee structure:
    • A percentage of AUM
  • Firm phone number: 716-566-2420
  • Headquarters address:
    750 Key Tower, 50 Fountain Plaza
    Buffalo, NY 14202

About Sanderson Wealth Management, LLC

After nearly three decades working for accounting and auditing firm Ernst & Young, John Sanderson bought the E&Y Upstate Practice in 2001 and established Sanderson & Company, which would later become Sanderson Wealth Management, LLC. Sanderson remains the firm’s principal and chairman.

The firm offers portfolio management, financial planning, tax consulting, estate and generational wealth planning, philanthropy assistance and business succession planning. Clients include both individuals and high net worth individuals, with a minimum portfolio size of $500,000 typically required. A small number of pension and profit-sharing plans, as well as insurance companies, are also part of the firm’s client base.

Sanderson Wealth Management operates out of its Buffalo office.

Sanderson Wealth Management, LLC investing strategy

Sanderson Wealth Management creates portfolios for clients with three main categories of investments: Core bonds and cash, global stocks and non-traditional assets. Each client’s asset allocation is designed to reflect their investment goals, time horizon, risk tolerance and cash flow needs.

Because it prefers liquid, transparent securities, the firm primarily invests in mutual funds and ETFs. In general, Sanderson Wealth Management designs portfolios using long-term investments, which it selects using analysis of data gathered from third-parties as well as from investment managers.

Sanderson Wealth Management, LLC disciplinary disclosures

Sanderson Wealth Management does not disclose any legal, criminal or civil incidents. All SEC-registered firms must publicly acknowledge any such events that occurred over the past decade and could influence a potential client’s opinion of the firm or its management.

For more information on Sanderson Wealth Management, visit its IAPD page.

3. Sterling Investment Counsel, LLC

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  • Minimum assets required: None
  • AUM: $503,168,651
  • Individual investor to advisor ratio: 75:1
  • Fee structure:
    • A percentage of AUM
    • Hourly charges
    • Fixed fees
  • Firm phone number: 716-783-7054
  • Headquarters address:
    360 Delaware Ave., Suite 400
    Buffalo, NY 14202

About Sterling Investment Counsel, LLC

Sterling Investment Counsel’s four founding partners — Cynthia Vance, Christopher Marks, John Langer and Phillip Vance — launched Sterling Investment Counsel in 2016, and remain its principal owners. They are also all partners at Jensen, Marks, Langer & Vance, a comprehensive wealth planning firm.

Sterling Investment Counsel offers investment management and financial planning, including topics such as investment planning, life insurance, tax concerns, retirement planning and college planning. The firm works with individuals, including high net worth individuals, as well as pension and profit-sharing plans, charitable organizations and businesses. It operates out of its Buffalo office.

Sterling Investment Counsel, LLC investing strategy

Sterling Investment Counsel uses either model portfolios or a customized investment approach to build client portfolios, depending on the needs and goals of individual clients. Portfolios emphasize strategic allocation and diversification, and may include stocks, bonds, mutual funds, cash and/or alternative asset classes.

The firm’s investment uses both long-term and short-term trading methods. Advisors adhere to modern portfolio theory, which holds that investors prefer less-risky assets if they are able to get the same returns.

Sterling Investment Management, LLC disciplinary disclosures

Sterling Investment Management does not report any disciplinary disclosures. Registered investment advisory firms must disclose facts material to clients’ evaluation of the company and its management, including any civil, criminal or regulatory incidents in the past decade.

For more information on Sterling Investment Management, visit the firm’s IAPD page.

4. Pratt Collard Buck Advisory Group

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  • Minimum assets required: $50,000
  • AUM: $262,122,448
  • Individual investor to advisor ratio: 78:1
  • Fee structure:
    • A percentage of AUM
    • Hourly charges
    • Fixed fees
  • Firm phone number: 716-566-9140
  • Headquarters address:
    120 West Tupper St., Suite 205
    Buffalo, NY 14201

About Pratt Collard Buck Advisory Group

When their former firm, Harold C. Brown & Co., dissolved in 2011 — in part due to the regulatory challenges of being a dually registered broker-dealer and investment advisor — Michael Pratt and Matthew Collard launched the Pratt Collard Buck Advisory Group that same year. Pratt and Collard remain the principal owners of the firm and serve as its president and managing partner, respectively. Former Harold C. Brown colleague W. Lawrence Buck serves as the firm’s chairman.

Pratt Collard Buck Advisory Group offers asset management, estate review, retirement planning, risk management and education planning. It works with individuals who both are and are not considered high net worth, as well as a small number of institutional investors. A minimum portfolio size of $50,000 is typically required.

The firm has one office location, which is in Buffalo.

Pratt Collard Buck investing strategy

To determine the right strategy for each client, Pratt Collard Buck considers the client’s risk tolerance, time horizon and other factors. The firm then selects investments using a value-driven, long-term approach. Portfolios tend to include a mix of equities, bonds, mutual funds and ETFs that the firm believes are trading at a discount to their private market or intrinsic value.

To identify investment opportunities, Pratt Collar Buck primarily uses fundamental analysis, examining companies’ financial conditions and competitive positions. The team takes a team-based approach to investing, with portfolio managers also considered investment analysts.

Pratt Collar Buck Advisory Group disciplinary disclosures

Pratt Collar Buck Advisory Group does not have any disciplinary disclosures. Investment advisory firms registered with the SEC must report information that could be material to clients evaluating the firm, including any civil, criminal or regulatory events involving the firm, its employees or its affiliates over the past decade.

To learn more about Pratt Collar Buck Advisory Group, visit the firm’s IAPD page.

5. Hudson Advisor Services, Inc.

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  • Minimum assets required: $1 million
  • AUM: $239,450,563
  • Individual investor to advisor ratio: 50:1
  • Fee structure:
    • A percentage of AUM
    • Hourly charges
    • Fixed fees
  • Firm phone number: 877-504-1964
  • Headquarters address:
    237 Main St., Suite 600
    Buffalo, NY 14203

About Hudson Advisor Services, Inc.

Former investment banker William Hudson, Jr. founded Hudson Advisor Services as a sole proprietorship in 1994 and remains the firm’s chairman. The firm expanded and became a registered investment advisor in 1997. Hudson now co-owns Hudson Advisor Services with Frances Miley.

Hudson Advisor Services offers personalized portfolio management, private wealth management, financial planning and family office services. Though the firm requires new clients to have a portfolio of at least $1 million, its current client base consists of a fairly even split between individuals and high net worth individuals.

In addition to its Buffalo headquarters, Hudson Advisor Services has an office in Vero Beach, Fla.

Hudson Advisor Services, Inc. investing strategy

Hudson Advisor Services’ investment process begins with asset allocation, as advisors look to create portfolios that balance risk and return. The firm primarily recommends domestic and international stocks and bonds, warrants, commercial paper, corporate debt, certificates of deposit (CDs), municipal and U.S. government securities, mutual funds, options and interests in oil and gas partnerships.

To select stocks, Hudson Advisor Services looks for quality stocks that will hold their value in the down market. Its fixed income approach focuses on short- or intermediate-term securities with a preference for quality over yield. The firm may also recommend alternative investments when appropriate; for more aggressive investors, it also invests in initial public offering investments.

Hudson Advisor Services, Inc. disciplinary disclosures

Hudson Advisor Services does not disclose any disciplinary issues that would materially impact a client’s view of the advisory company or its management. This includes any civil, criminal or regulatory events involving the firm, its employees or its affiliates over the past 10 years.

For more information on Hudson Advisor Services, visit the firm’s IAPD page.

6. Miller, Gesko & Company Inc.

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  • Minimum assets required: $1 million
  • AUM: $161,004,000
  • Individual investor to advisor ratio: 85:1
  • Fee structure:
    • A percentage of AUM
    • Hourly charges
    • Fixed fees
    • Other (a combination of the above)
  • Firm phone number: 716-852-7628
  • Headquarters address:
    237 Main St., Suite 600
    Buffalo, NY 14203

About Miller, Gesko & Company Inc.

Miller, Gesko & Company Inc. began as a single family office in 1969, expanding over time to provide wealth management and family office services. It became a registered investment advisor in 1986. Today, the firm primarily works with individuals, including some who are high net worth, and generally requires new clients to have a minimum account size of $1 million.

Founder Paul Gesko is president of the firm, which he co-owns with partner Robert Miller Jr. In addition to its Buffalo headquarters, Miller, Gesko & Company has an office in Sarasota, Fla.

Miller, Gesko & Company Inc. Investing strategy

Advisors at Miller, Gesko & Company build customized portfolios for their clients using primarily foreign and domestic stocks, ETFs, warrants, commercial paper, corporate debt, CDs, government securities, mutual funds, options and master limited partnerships. When appropriate, the firm may also recommend that clients invest in alternative securities or initial public offerings.

Miller, Gesko & Company uses a variety of investment strategies, depending on a client’s needs, including long-term and short-term purchases, trading and option writing. Its security evaluation process emphasizes fundamental analysis, which digs into the financial details of a company to determine if its current price reflects its future value. However, it also considers technical and cyclical factors, which look at various data points and how a stock moves in comparison to the overall market.

Miller, Gesko & Company Inc. disciplinary disclosures

Miller, Gesko & Company does not disclose any legal or disciplinary events over the past decade that would materially impact a client’s opinion of the firm or its management. As a registered investment advisory firm, the SEC requires Miller, Gesko & Company to report this information in its Form ADV paperwork.

For more information about Miller, Gesko & Company, visit the firm’s IAPD page.

7. Note Advisors, LLC

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  • Minimum assets required: Varies by account type
  • AUM: $142,916,871
  • Individual investor to advisor ratio: 90:1
  • Fee structure:
    • A percentage of AUM
    • Hourly charges
    • Fixed fees
  • Firm phone number: 716-256-1682
  • Headquarters address:
    50 Lakefront Blvd., Suite 215
    Buffalo, NY 14202

About Note Advisors, LLC

Founded in 2014, Note Advisors, LLC offers financial planning and portfolio management services. The firm specializes in working with business owners and their families, and also works with a select number of businesses. Minimum investment requirements for the firm vary by service, with at least $500,000 required for the firm’s discretionary program and $100,000 for the non-discretionary program. You must have $5,000 to access the firm’s automated investment advisory program.

Principals Thomas Waring Jr. and Shawn Glogowski co-own the firm, and Glogowski also serves as the firm’s chief compliance officer. The firm’s sole office location is in Buffalo.

Note Advisors, LLC investing strategy

Note Advisors directs clients who have between $5,000 and $100,000 to invest using its Note Advisors Direct program, an automated investing program that puts them into model accounts consisting of ETFs and cash.

For clients with larger account balances, Note Advisors creates custom portfolios with an asset allocation designed to help them meet their financial goals. Portfolios typically include a mix of mutual funds, index funds, ETFs, stocks and bonds.

Note Advisors, LLC disciplinary disclosures

Note Advisors has a clean disciplinary record. This means that it has not encountered any disciplinary events over the past decade involving the firm, its employees or its affiliates that might be material to a client. The SEC requires all registered investment advisors to disclose such information on their Form ADV paperwork.

To learn more about Note Advisors, visit the firm’s IAPD page.

8. Winthrop Partners – WNY, LLC

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  • Minimum assets required: None
  • AUM: $121,242,219
  • Individual investor to advisor ratio: 54:1
  • Fee structure:
    • A percentage of AUM
    • Hourly charges
    • Fixed fees
  • Firm phone number: 716-322-7478
  • Headquarters address:
    295 Main St., Suite 840
    Buffalo, NY 14203

About Winthrop Partners – WNY, LLC

Founded in 2015, Winthrop Partners – WNY, LLC offers financial planning and wealth management to individuals in transition, including medical professionals, business owners and retired professionals. Nearly all of the individuals it serves are not considered high net worth, and it does not have a minimum investment requirement.

The firm’s principals are Thomas J. Saunders, R. Brian Werner and Ryan J. Carney. In addition to its Buffalo headquarters, Winthrop Partners also operates in Pennsylvania, as it is under common ownership with the advisory firms Winthrop Partners – EPA, LLC (based in Doylestown, Pa.) and Winthrop Partners – WPA, LLC (based in Pittsburgh).

Winthrop Partners – WNY, LLC investing strategy

Winthrop Partners creates individualized portfolios for its clients based on their risk tolerance and time horizon. However, the equity component of a client’s portfolio will generally include 20 large-cap stocks and offer diversification across most major economic sectors. The fixed income portion of the portfolio will include securities the firm believes offer the highest credit ratings and maximum yields.

In addition to individual securities, Winthrop Partners may invest portions of a portfolio in mutual funds and ETFs in order to gain access to other asset classes, such as small- and mid-cap stocks, international stocks and alternative asset classes. In general, Winthrop Partners takes a long-term approach to investing and avoids assets with high volatility.

Winthrop Partners – WNY, LLC disciplinary disclosures

Winthrop Partners has a clean disciplinary record. That means that neither the firm nor its employees or affiliates have faced any civil, regulatory or criminal actions in the past 10 years. The SEC requires that any registered investment advisor report such information on their ADV filings.

For further details on Winthrop Partners, visit the firm’s IAPD page.

Financial advisors in Buffalo, NY: FAQ

The income tax rate in New York ranges from 4.00% to 8.82% depending on your income, but the top rate will increase in 2021, with top earners (those who make more than $25 million per year) paying 10.90%. New York state also has an estate tax of up to 16% on estates worth more than $5.93 million, though it does not have an inheritance tax. Residents of the Empire State also could be subject to federal estate taxes depending on the size of the estate.

This list is a great place to start, or you could use MagnifyMoney’s Find a Financial Advisor tool to search for advisors near you.

When looking for an advisor who’s right for you, search for one who offers the services you need and with whom you’re comfortable sharing intimate financial details. You’ll also want to look for an advisor who has experience working with clients that have financial situations similar to yours, and who abides by fiduciary duty, as this means that they will work with your best interest in mind.

The rate and fee structure vary by advisor, but typical fees range from 0.59% to 1.18% of a client’s total assets under management, according to a study by AdvisoryHQ. Some advisors also charge performance-based fees and other investment-related costs, while others eschew the asset-based fee model entirely, instead charging a flat rate or hourly charge for services.

No. While most financial advisor firms can offer at least some guidance when it comes to retirement planning, it’s not an area of specialization for every firm. If that’s a priority for you, make sure to look for a financial advisor for whom it’s a priority as well.

The “Find a Financial Advisor” links contained in this article will direct you to webpages devoted to MagnifyMoney Advisor (“MMA”). After completing a brief questionnaire, you will be matched with certain financial advisers who participate in MMA’s referral program, which may or may not include the investment advisers discussed.