Best Financial Advisors in Charlotte 2020: Fees and Services

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Updated on Friday, November 13, 2020

If you’re on the hunt for a financial advisor in Charlotte, we’re here to help you sift through the myriad options in the Queen City, the largest city in North Carolina. Finding the right advisor comes down to figuring out what your personal financial situation requires, which means understanding your financial needs and goals and how much you’re willing to spend.

Beyond that, you’ll also need to compare different firms and their key data points, which can feel like a daunting undertaking. We’ve compiled the most pertinent information to help guide your decision. To determine the best advisors in Charlotte, 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 serves as a general metric for the firm’s size) and client-to-advisor ratio (which indicates how much attention you may get as a client).

While our ranking is not indicative of which firm may be the best for you, it can make your experience of shopping for a financial advisor easier. Take a look at our list below for the top firms in Charlotte and their key highlights:

8 best financial advisor in Charlotte

Methodology and criteria

For our search, we looked at firms across the city of Charlotte. 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 November 13, 2020, but urge you to evaluate these firms on https://adviserinfo.sec.gov/.

1. Aon Hewitt Financial Advisors, LLC

Find an Advisor

  • Minimum assets required: Not specified
  • AUM: $28,697,854,720
  • Individual investor to advisor ratio: 4631:1
  • Fee structure:
    • A percentage of AUM
    • Fixed fees
    • Other (set-up fees and related services)
  • Firm phone number: (866) 560-7256
  • Headquarters address:
    7201 University Oaks Drive, Charlotte, NC 28262

About Aon Hewitt Financial Advisors, LLC

Aon Hewitt Financial Advisors, LLC offers advisory and related services to participants in employer-sponsored, defined contribution plans for their plan accounts (such as 401(k) plans) and for retirement accounts outside the plans. The firm provides participants of client employer-sponsored plans with services including retirement evaluation, portfolio monitoring and online advice.

Headquartered in Charlotte, the company was incorporated in 2011 and is a subsidiary of Alight Solutions, a provider of cloud-based HR and financial solutions and benefits administration. Alight Solutions is an indirect subsidiary of Blackstone. While Aon Hewitt Financial Advisors’ only office location is in North Carolina, it is registered in every state except Wyoming, plus Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Aon Hewitt Financial Advisors, LLC investing strategy

Aon Hewitt Financial Advisors uses proprietary software and methodology from the financial advisory firm Financial Engines Advisors to formulate target allocations for its participants.

Financial Engines Advisors’ investment philosophy recommends diversified portfolios with a range of asset classes and market sectors, balancing holdings between those that are cost-effective and those that may offer added return. The firm’s philosophy also emphasizes longer-term investment strategies, strategic reallocation of assets (depending on a client’s goals, time frames and other particulars) and periodic portfolio rebalancing.

As a client, your investment objectives, risk tolerance and financial circumstances will inform your portfolio creation, including what securities are available for investment as well as your expected returns. The firm also takes into consideration the tax efficiency of investments in taxable accounts.

Aon Hewitt Financial Advisors, LLC disciplinary disclosures

Investment advisory firms registered with the SEC are required to disclose criminal, civil judicial and regulatory infractions involving the firm or its affiliates in company materials available to clients. Aon Hewitt Financial Advisors does not have any recorded disclosures itself, but one of its former advisory affiliates does: In 2008, FINRA fined Hewitt Financial Services (a firm that is no longer registered with the SEC) $8,500 for failing to prepare accurate books and records in regards to net capital computations.

For more information, refer to the firm’s Investment Advisor Public Disclosure (IAPD) page.

2. Independent Advisor Alliance, LLC

Find an Advisor

  • Minimum assets required: Varies by account type
  • AUM: $5,870,908,960
  • Individual investor to advisor ratio: 99:1
  • Fee structure:
    • A percentage of AUM
    • Hourly charges
    • Fixed fees
  • Firm phone number: (888) 430-1555
  • Headquarters address:
    11215 N. Community Road, Suite 775
    Charlotte, NC 28277

About Independent Advisor Alliance, LLC

Independent Advisory Alliance is a fee-only investment advisory firm that was founded in 2013 by Robert Russo, the firm’s owner and CEO. The company offers clients — who typically are individuals, trusts, estates or small businesses — asset management, retirement and financial planning services.

Headquartered in Charlotte, the firm has a network of affiliated advisory representatives across 24 states, with over 130 office locations in total.

Independent Advisor Alliance, LLC investing strategy

There is no unified investing strategy for advisors under the Independent Advisor Alliance hub. The advisory firm recommends that clients ask their advisor to find out more about their investment management style, as it will vary between advisors.

Generally speaking, however, an investment advisor will construct your account using a diversified asset allocation mix, which may include mutual funds (such as index funds, international funds, emerging market funds, real estate funds, high yield bond funds), ETFs, variable annuity subaccounts, alternative investments, hedge funds, REITs and individual stocks and bonds. Your portfolio will be informed by your time horizon, risk tolerance and financial goals and objectives, as well as your financial circumstances.

The typical investment objectives that Independent Advisor Alliance focuses on are:

  • income with capital preservation
  • income with moderate growth
  • growth with income
  • growth
  • aggressive growth

The firm will make its asset allocation decisions based on one of these guiding objectives, as well as the client’s preferences and situation.

Independent Advisor Alliance, LLC disciplinary disclosures

This financial advisory firm does not have any disclosures to report. Firms registered with the SEC are required to detail disciplinary, criminal and regulatory actions taken against the company in client-facing filings and brochures. For more information, visit Independent Advisor Alliance’s IAPD page.

3. Carroll Financial Associates, Inc.

Find an Advisor

  • Minimum assets required: Varies by account type
  • AUM: $3,486,027,227
  • Individual investor to advisor ratio: 112:1
  • Fee structure:
    • A percentage of AUM
    • Hourly charges
    • Fixed fees
  • Firm phone number: (704) 553-8006
  • Headquarters address:
    4521 Sharon Road, Suite 400
    Charlotte, North Carolina 28211

About Carroll Financial Associates, Inc.

Carroll Financial Associates, Inc. was founded in 1980 by Larry Carroll, currently the firm’s CEO and chief wealth strategist. The independent financial planning and wealth management firm is principally owned by its chief investment officer, Kristopher Carroll.

Carroll Financial Associates serves individuals, pension and profit-sharing plans, 401(k) plans, self-directed participant accounts in ERISA plans, corporations, trusts, estates and charitable and non-profit organizations. Services offered include retirement planning, investment management, estate planning, transition planning, elder care planning, college planning and 401(k) advice. The firm also tailors services such as insurance and 401(k)s for physician clients.

The firm has two offices located in North Carolina — its Charlotte headquarters, and another in Raleigh. It also has an office in Rock Hill, S.C.

Carroll Financial Associates, Inc. investing strategy

Carroll Financial Associates’ investment approach focuses on the importance of five core principles: simplicity, risk, income, diversification and price. The firm uses seven different investment allocation models for client accounts, each with a different focus depending on a client’s financial objectives and circumstances. The model names correspond with the strategy, with the following models currently offered:

  • Growth
  • Total return
  • Income and growth
  • Income
  • Risk controlled
  • Tactical
  • Conservative income

In general, the firm creates portfolios that may include mutual funds, ETFs, common and preferred stocks, U.S. government securities and corporate and municipal bonds, among other investments.

Carroll Financial Associates, Inc. disciplinary disclosures

Carroll Financial Associates does not have any disclosures on record to report. Investment advisory firms registered with the SEC are required to report regulatory, criminal, and civil judicial infractions. You can get more information on the firm by visiting its IAPD page.

4. Bragg Financial Advisors, Inc.

Find an Advisor

  • Minimum assets required: Varies by account type
  • AUM: $1,775,499,964
  • Individual investor to advisor ratio: 109:1
  • Fee structure:
    • A percentage of AUM
    • Hourly charges
    • Fixed fees
  • Firm phone number: (704) 377-0261
  • Headquarters address:
    1031 S. Caldwell Street, Suite 200
    Charlotte, NC 28203

About Bragg Financial Advisors, Inc.

Bragg Financial Advisors, Inc. registered with the SEC in 2000, though the firm was started much earlier than that (in 1964) by J. Frank Bragg, Jr., and later grew to include financial planning and corporate benefit plans in the 1970s and 1980s. Bragg now serves as the firm’s chairman emeritus, and his three sons and son-in-law serve in leadership positions, including CEO and vice president.

Today, Bragg Financial Advisors offers advisory services including wealth advisory, family office services and portfolio management. The firm’s clients are individuals both with and without a high net worth (defined by the SEC as at least $750,000 in management or a net worth of at least $1.5 million), investment companies (including mutual funds), pension and profit-sharing plans, charitable organizations and institutions.

Bragg Financial Advisors is owned by the Bragg family, as well as the firm’s chief operations officer Steven Scruggs and Katherine Scruggs (née Bragg). The firm’s only office is located in Charlotte.

Bragg Financial Advisors, Inc. investing strategy

Advisors at Bragg Financial Advisors believe in Modern Portfolio Theory — a philosophy that emphasizes portfolio asset diversification — and following a disciplined investment approach grounded in academic research. The firm claims to remove emotion from the investment decision process and embraces an investing philosophy that places an emphasis on diversification, long-term holding periods, fundamental analysis and risk-adjusted returns.

Client portfolios generally include individual securities, indexed and actively managed mutual funds and ETFs, though the exact makeup will depend on the client’s financial objectives and other factors.

Bragg Financial Advisors, Inc. disciplinary disclosures

Bragg Financial Advisors does not have any reportable disciplinary events to disclose. If a firm has incurred an infraction — defined by the SEC as any regulatory, disciplinary, or civil judicial event involving either the firm or an affiliate — it is required to disclose details in business materials, including client-facing brochures. For further information on Bragg Financial Advisors, you can visit its IAPD page.

5. Colony Family Offices, LLC

Find an Advisor

  • Minimum assets required: $10,000,000
  • AUM: $1,774,103,067
  • Individual investor to advisor ratio: 70:1
  • Fee structure:
    • A percentage of AUM
    • Fixed fees
  • Firm phone number: (704) 285-7300
  • Headquarters address:
    4250 Congress Street, Suite 175
    Charlotte, NC 28209

About Colony Family Offices, LLC

Colony Family Offices, LLC is an independent financial advisory company that was established in 2013. Eric Ridenour serves as the firm’s managing director and shares majority ownership of the firm with its chief investment strategist and another individual.

Colony Family Offices’ business is focused on serving wealthy families, and the firm currently provides services solely to high net worth individuals (defined by the SEC as those with at least $750,000 in assets under management or $1.5 million in net worth) and charitable trusts. Families generally are required to make a minimum collective investment of at least $10 million.

Colony Family Offices specializes in wealth management areas that include financial planning, investment advisory services, tax planning, education planning, philanthropic planning, operations and risk management. The firm is headquartered in Charlotte and has a second office in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Colony Family Offices, LLC investing strategy

Colony Family Offices builds custom portfolios for its clients, noting that they are focused on real wealth and purchasing power. The types of investments used in client portfolios can include separately managed accounts, ETFs, mutual funds and private funds, such as hedge funds, private equity and venture capital. In addition to diversifying across multiple factors, the firm uses passive, index-like strategies (which aim to achieve low-cost and tax-efficient exposure) in tandem with active management and alternative strategies.

The firm’s strategies include long-term and short-term purchases, margin transactions (buying more stock than you’d normally be able to by borrowing money from a broker) and option writing (an investment contract for the right to buy or sell shares at a future price and date).

Clients should be aware that Colony Family Offices pays another registered investment advisor, Greycourt & Co., Inc., to assist in research, manager due diligence and asset allocation analysis, though this is not an uncommon practice for investment advisors.

Colony Family Offices, LLC disciplinary disclosures

Colony Family Offices does not have any disclosures to report. The SEC requires registered investment advisory firms to detail any regulatory, criminal or civil judicial events from the last 10 years involving either the firm or its employees or affiliates in the Form ADV paperwork that registered firms must file with the SEC. For further information on the firm, visit its IAPD page.

6. Carolinas Wealth Consulting, LLC

Find an Advisor

  • Minimum assets required: $100,000
  • AUM: $1,481,137,154
  • Individual investor to advisor ratio: 38:1
  • Fee structure:
    • A percentage of AUM
    • Fixed fees
  • Firm phone number: (704) 643-2455
  • Headquarters address:
    5605 Carnegie Boulevard, Suite 400
    Charlotte, NC 28209

About Carolinas Wealth Consulting, LLC

Carolinas Wealth Consulting was established in 2018 by George Edmiston, Jr., the firm’s CEO and majority owner. Previously, Edmiston founded an affiliated company, Carolinas Investment Consulting, LLC, in 2001; Carolinas Wealth Consulting is affiliated under common ownership and control with Carolinas Investment Consulting and the firm’s website uses the latter’s name for business.

Carolinas Wealth Consulting provides individuals with investment advisory services. New clients must have at least $100,000 to invest to engage the firm’s services. In addition to individuals who both are and aren’t considered high net worth per the SEC’s definition, Carolinas Wealth Consulting provides services to pension and profit-sharing plans, charitable institutions, foundations, endowments, estates, trusts, corporations and business entities.

The firm operates out of one office, located in Charlotte.

Carolinas Wealth Consulting, LLC investing strategy

Advisors at Carolinas Wealth Consulting believe in the following investing tenets, which guides its approach to portfolio management:

  • Long-term investing: The firm sets a long-term asset allocation for each client that guides decisions.
  • Risk management: The firm defines risk as the permanent loss of capital, and thus focuses on minimizing downside risk.
  • Endowment approach: The firm believes in a total return approach for investing, and believes that families benefit from creating a spending policy and receiving gains from both income and capital appreciation.
  • Objective advice: The firm emphasizes that it does not sell proprietary products or have affiliations that could sway its objectivity in making decisions for client portfolios.

Clients of Carolinas Wealth Consulting have a variety of options for account management. The firm offers wrap fee programs (which bundle all costs into a single, comprehensive fee) that are either sponsored and managed by Fidelity or administered through Fidelity or Schwab but managed by Carolinas Wealth Consulting. Non-wrap managed account programs that are administered through Schwab Advisor Services are also available.

As a client of Carolinas Wealth Consulting, your advisor will discuss your financial goals, as well as your demographic and financial information, to assess your risk profile. Your investment objectives will also help inform the plan for your assets; portfolios generally include long- or short-term trading of stock portfolios, including ETFs, mutual funds, fixed income securities and options.

Carolinas Wealth Consulting LLC disciplinary disclosures

Financial advisory firms registered with the SEC are required to report any regulatory, criminal and civil judicial incidents from within the last decade that involve either the firm or its employees or affiliates in their Form ADV paperwork filed with the SEC. Carolinas Wealth Consulting has no such disclosures to report, meaning it has a clean disciplinary record. For more information, visit the firm’s IAPD page.

7. Novare Capital Management

Find an Advisor

  • Minimum assets required: $500,000
  • AUM: $1,162,797,006
  • Individual investor to advisor ratio: 39:1
  • Fee structure:
    • A percentage of AUM
  • Firm phone number: (704) 334-3698
  • Headquarters address:
    521 East Morehead Street, Suite 510
    Charlotte, NC 28202

About Novare Capital Management

Founded in 1999, Novare Capital Management became a registered investment advisor in 2003. The company is primarily owned by two of its managing directors, William Baynard, Jr. and Don Omstead, as well as an LLC, The Baymen Group.

The firm’s clients include individual investors who both are and aren’t considered high net worth individuals, as well as trusts, estates, charitable organizations, businesses, financial institutions and retirement plans. Novare Capital Management, which generally requires a minimum account size of $500,000, offers comprehensive wealth management, which includes investment advisory and financial planning services, as well as retirement plan advisory services.

Novare Capital Management is headquartered in Charlotte and has no other offices.

Novare Capital Management investing strategy

New clients of Novare Capital Management start with a discovery meeting in which advisors work to understand their financial goals, risk tolerance, tax situation, cash needs and other financial information. The information gathered will help direct how their portfolio is constructed. The firm primarily invests clients’ assets in individual stocks and bonds, ETFs, mutual funds, master limited partnerships and preferred stocks and options.

Novare Capital Management uses several strategies for portfolio construction, including core equity, energy infrastructure, ETF and fixed income. It also uses the America’s Finest Companies® strategy, which focuses on investing in equity securities of companies from the proprietary list of America’s Finest Companies® with an emphasis on World-Class Dividend Growers® — simply put, the strategy seeks returns by investing in quality companies that have proven performance.

Novare Capital Management disciplinary disclosures

Novare Capital Management has no disciplinary events to report involving the company or its employees or affiliates. For reference, the SEC requires all registered investment advisors to disclose any incidents in their Form ADV paperwork that may be material to potential or current clients in evaluating the firm. You can learn more about Novare Capital Management by visiting its IAPD page.

8. Linden Thomas Advisory Services, LLC

Find an Advisor

  • Minimum assets required: $400,000
  • AUM: $845,196,492
  • Individual investor to advisor ratio: 166:1
  • Fee structure:
    • A percentage of AUM
    • Hourly charges
    • Fixed fees
  • Firm phone number: (704) 554-8150
  • Headquarters address:
    516 North Tryon Street, Suite 200
    Charlotte, NC 28202

About Linden Thomas Advisory Services, LLC

Linden Thomas Advisory Services, LLC was founded in 2018 by Stephen Thomas, who is the firm’s managing principal and owner. The Charlotte-based firm provides investment advisory services, financial planning and retirement plan services to individuals, businesses, trusts and retirement plans.

The firm prefers to work with those who have accounts of $400,000 or higher — however, though most of its clients are considered high net worth individuals per the SEC’s definition, it does also work with a number of individuals who do not meet that definition.

Linden Thomas Advisory Services, LLC investing strategy

Like many firms, Linden Thomas Advisory Services follows the principles of Modern Portfolio Theory, which advocates building globally diversified portfolios. On the whole, the firm strives to identify opportunities for capital appreciation while mitigating risk, as well as portfolio fees and transactional costs, in order to meet a client’s needs.

The firm builds long-term portfolios that are matched to a client’s needs and financial objectives. Portfolios include a rebalancing strategy and risk mitigation.

Linden Thomas Advisory Services, LLC disciplinary disclosures

Firms registered with the SEC are required to disclose any civil, regulatory or disciplinary events from within the last decade involving the firm, its employees or its affiliates that would be material to a client’s evaluation of the firm. Linden Thomas Advisory Services has no such incidents to report. For more information on the firm, you can visit its IAPD page.

Financial advisors in Charlotte: FAQ

Charlotte does not levy an additional income tax beyond the state rate, and North Carolina does not have estate or inheritance taxes. Estates and trusts are taxed at the rate levied for individual income tax, which is 5.25% as of the 2019 tax year. Residents of the state may also be subject to federal estate and gift taxes.

You won’t find the same exact services offered by every financial advisor firm. Some financial advisory firms do specialize in retirement planning, which you can discover through their client materials, such as their brochures and website. Other financial advisory firms may specialize in financial planning services, such as charitable giving, family office management or other services, or focus primarily on investing. It is important to find an advisor who offers the services you need and is experienced in providing them.

Yes, it is important to work with a fiduciary financial advisor. Fiduciaries must work in their clients’ best interest at all times — in fact, they are legally and ethically bound to do so. Not all financial advisors are fiduciaries, so it is important to ask a financial advisor first whether they abide by fiduciary duty.

A fee-only financial advisor earns compensation solely through the fees their clients pay, which generally are based on a percentage of assets under management. A fee-based financial advisor, on the other hand, can receive compensation from fees paid by their clients as well as from other sources, such as commissions for selling products to clients or making referrals.

Working with a fee-based financial advisor might come with a greater risk of potential conflicts of interest, as the advisor may be incentivized to recommend certain products to you to increase their own earnings.