Best Financial Advisors in Columbia, S.C. 2021: Fees and Services

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Updated on Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Residents of Columbia, S.C. — or Soda City, as it’s known to locals — may find choosing a financial advisor in Columbia to be challenging, given the number of financial advisors available. Understanding your financial needs and goals and how much you’re willing to spend are helpful when seeking the right advisor in Columbia for you.

Beyond that, you’ll also need to compare firms in the area. To make that process easier, we’ve compiled the most pertinent information to help guide your decision. To determine the best advisors in South Carolina’s capital (the first U.S. city to be named after Christopher Columbus), we only considered firms that manage individual accounts and offer financial planning services. Next, we 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 suggests how much attention you may receive as a client of the firm.

These rankings are not meant to suggest which firm may be best for you, but we hope that it can provide you with the information needed to make that determination for yourself based on your unique situation. Read on for our list of the top firms in Columbia, S.C., and their key highlights.

9 best financial advisors in Columbia, S.C.

Methodology and criteria

For our search, we looked at firms across the city of Columbia. 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, ordered from highest to lowest. 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 May 4, 2021, but urge you to evaluate these firms on https://adviserinfo.sec.gov/.

1. Abacus Planning Group, Inc.

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  • Minimum assets required: Not specified, but minimum annual investment advisory fee of $18,000
  • AUM: $1,452,693,162
  • Individual investor to advisor ratio: 19:1
  • Fee structure:
    • A percentage of AUM
    • Hourly charges
    • Fixed fees
  • Firm phone number: 803-933-0054
  • Headquarters address:
    2500 Devine St.
    Columbia, SC 29205

About Abacus Planning Group, Inc.

Abacus Planning Group, Inc. was founded in 1998 by Cheryl R. Holland, the firm’s president and primary owner. Holland was named one of the Top 100 Women Advisors by Barrons in 2020. The firm has two locations in addition to its Columbia, S.C., headquarters: a second South Carolina office in Greenville, and another in Fredericksburg, Texas.

Abacus Planning Group serves high net worth individuals (defined by the SEC as those with at least $750,000 under management or a net worth of at least $1.5 million), though it also has clients who do not fit this description. In addition, the firm serves pension and profit-sharing plans, as well as charitable organizations. The firm provides portfolio management services, financial planning, goal setting, education funding, risk management review, income tax review, estate planning and more.

Abacus Planning Group, Inc. investing strategy

When managing client portfolios, Abacus Planning Group allocates funds across asset classes, including U.S. and international equities, emerging market stocks, real estate, commodities, bonds and cash. It also diversifies extensively across managers and time periods, with the aim of achieving optimal risk-adjusted returns.

Abacus Planning Group investment strategy can also provide exposure to non-traditional investments, including real estate, commodities and venture capital. The firm believes in holding a majority of long-term investments, which are based on a three- to five-year economic outlook. Generally, 90% of investment recommendations are long-term, while the remaining 10% focus on the short-term or tactical, the latter indicating opportunities with a holding period of less than 18 months.

Abacus Planning Group, Inc. disciplinary disclosures

Abacus Planning Group does not have any disciplinary disclosures recorded for the past 10 years. The SEC requires registered investment advisory firms to report any events involving the firm, its staff or its affiliates, including any civil, regulatory or criminal issues, and to list them on publicly available documents, including the firm’s Form ADV. For additional information, consult the firm’s IAPD page.

2. Anchor Investment Management

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  • Minimum assets required: $500,000
  • AUM: $906,297,986
  • Individual investor to advisor ratio: 72:1
  • Fee structure:
    • A percentage of AUM
    • Fixed fees
  • Firm phone number: 803-790-6654
  • Headquarters address:
    3205 Devine St.
    Columbia, SC 29205

About Anchor Investment Management

Anchor Investment Management was formed in 2000 by W. Patrick Dorn, Jr., the firm’s principal and largest shareholder. The firm has one office in Columbia, S.C., and it offers its clients investment management, financial planning, insurance, retirement planning and company 401(k) management.

Anchor Investment Management’s clients include individuals, including those who are high net worth, as well as corporations, trusts, estates, charitable organizations and pension and profit-sharing plans. The minimum portfolio value required for the firm’s investment advisory services is typically $500,000.

Anchor Investment Management investing strategy

Clients of Anchor Investment Management will generally have their portfolios invested in individual stocks, though the firm may also include exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and mutual funds depending on the client. Portfolio construction is based on a client’s financial particulars, including their risk tolerance, financial goals and circumstances and investment objectives.

The firm calls itself a primarily equity blend asset manager, which means its investment advice will include both value and growth securities. This generally means well-regarded, blue chip stocks (proven winners) are present within portfolios along with stocks that have the potential for growth. Anchor Investment Management prefers to invest in large capitalization companies (companies with a market capitalization of at least $10 billion). However, it can include small-cap ($250 million to $2 billion) and mid-cap ($2 billion to $10 billion) equity securities in an effort to achieve diversification.

Anchor Investment Management disciplinary disclosures

Investment advisory firms that are registered with the SEC are required to list and disclose reportable offenses and regulation violations. Anchor Investment Management has nothing applicable to report. Find additional information on the firm’s IAPD page.

3. DaVinci Financial Designs

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  • Minimum assets required: No across-the-board minimum
  • AUM: $221,358,660
  • Individual investor to advisor ratio: 197:1
  • Fee structure:
    • A percentage of AUM
    • Hourly charges
    • Fixed fees
  • Firm phone number: 803-741-0134
  • Headquarters address:
    5301 N. Trenholm Road, Suite A
    Columbia, SC 29206

About DaVinci Financial Designs

DaVinci Financial Designs is an investment advisory firm that’s been in business since 2012. The firm is owned by Agostini & Associates, Inc, and Zoller & Associates LLC, which are in turn owned by James Agostini, the firm’s principal and managing partner and Jeb Zoller, who serves as partner.

Clients of DaVinci Financial Designs include individuals (including high net worth individuals), charitable organizations and trusts and estates. Services offered include portfolio management and life design (comprehensive financial planning). The firm can also provide business financial planning services, as well as planning services for immediate family members of its clients, dubbed Generational Design Services.

The firm is headquartered in Columbia, S.C., and has a second office in Newport News, Va.

DaVinci Financial Designs investing strategy

Portfolios created by advisors at DaVinci Financial Designs take into account a client’s financial goals, objectives, risk tolerance and time horizon. Most portfolios built by the firm consist of mutual funds, individuals stocks, bonds and ETFs. For the most part, DaVinci Financial Designs uses long-term purchases of securities (those typically held for for a year or more).

The firm is a proponent of modern portfolio theory, which advocates risk minimization by choosing varying proportions of different assets in an effort to achieve broad diversification and thus maximize returns. DaVinci Financial Designs also follows a concept called Alpha Based Investing, which aligns a client’s risk tolerance and wealth management strategy to a risk-reward profile that’s derived from a performance benchmark; that benchmark takes into account the risk-adjusted performance and volatility of an investment.

DaVinci Financial Designs disciplinary disclosures

DaVinci Financial Designs has no disclosures to report. The SEC requires registered investment advisory firms to detail any regulatory, criminal or civil judicial events involving either the firm or its employees or affiliates in paperwork that registered firms must file with the SEC. For further information about DaVinci Financial Designs, visit its IAPD page.

4. Hobbs Group Advisors LLC

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  • Minimum assets required: Varies by account type
  • AUM: $222,094,000
  • Individual investor to advisor ratio: 51:1
  • Fee structure:
    • A percentage of AUM
    • Hourly charges
    • Fixed fees
  • Firm phone number: 803-540-3034
  • Headquarters address:
    1704 Laurel St.
    Columbia, SC 29201

About Hobbs Group Advisors LLC

Founded in 2007, Hobbs Group Advisors LLC is headquartered in Columbia, S.C., which is its sole office location. The firm’s principal owners are Mark Hobbs, who serves as the firm’s president, and Peter Pigeon, the firm’s chief investment officer.

Hobbs Group Advisors offers investment management, wealth management, financial planning services, retirement plan consulting and insurance to its clients. It works with individuals who both and are not high net worth, as well as pension and profit-sharing plans, charitable organizations and corporations.

Hobbs Group Advisors LLC investing strategy

Clients of Hobbs Group Advisors have the option to have a portfolio created for them based on custom investment management advice, or they can invest using a Fidelity automated investment management platform (a robo-advisor) through the firm. For both options, your advisor will gather financial data to determine a client’s risk tolerance, as well as their time horizons and investment objectives.

When investing clients’ assets, Hobbs Group Advisors focuses on identifying a ratio of securities, fixed income and cash that matches their goals and risk tolerance. Advisors at the firm generally purchase securities with the intent of holding them for a year or more, and they primarily use fundamental analysis when evaluating an investment (this looks at economic and financial factors to see if a company is underpriced or overpriced).

Hobbs Group Advisors LLC disciplinary disclosures

Hobbs Group Advisors does not have any disciplinary disclosures to report. 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. For more information on Hobbs Group Advisors, visit its IAPD page.

5. Beers Kight Financial Advisors, LLC

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  • Minimum assets required: $300,000
  • AUM: $152,071,930
  • Individual investor to advisor ratio: 48:1
  • Fee structure:
    • A percentage of AUM
    • Hourly charges
    • Fixed fees
  • Firm phone number: 803-787-0003
  • Headquarters address:
    3830 Forest Drive
    Columbia, SC 29204

About Beers Kight Financial Advisors, LLC

Beers Kight Financial Advisors, LLC became a limited liability company in 2011. The firm is owned by Beers Financial, LLC and McGregor Financial Advisors, LLC, both of which are investment advisors. The firm’s managing members are Val Beers and Barry Kight, and Beers also serves as the firm’s chief compliance officer.

Beers Kight Financial Advisors offers portfolio management services, pension consulting services and financial planning for a clientele of high net worth individuals, as well as pension and profit-sharing plans. For the most part, the firm works with portfolio values of $300,000 or higher.

Beers Kight Financial Advisors is headquartered in Columbia and has no additional locations.

Beers Kight Financial Advisors, LLC investing strategy

Beers Kight Financial Advisors aims to create well-diversified portfolios for its clients by using a mix of assets. To determine the appropriate asset allocation for a client’s portfolio, the firm seeks to align their risk tolerance level with suitable long-term returns.

Portfolios may contain assets such as mutual funds, ETFs and/or direct fixed-income obligations, such as bonds or CDs. The firm also invests in cash or cash equivalents, bonds, stocks and real estate.

Beers Kight Financial Advisors, LLC disciplinary disclosures

This financial advisory firm does not have any disclosures to report. Financial firms registered with the SEC are required to list any civil, criminal and regulatory actions within the last 10 years involving the company, its employees or its affiliates in client-facing filings and brochures. For more information, visit Beers Kight Financial Advisors’ IAPD page.

6. J.E. Wilson Advisors, LLC

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  • Minimum assets required: Not specified, but minimum annual fee that varies by program
  • AUM: $120,181,383
  • Individual investor to advisor ratio: 63:1
  • Fee structure:
    • A percentage of AUM
    • Fixed fees
  • Firm phone number: 803-799-9203
  • Headquarters address:
    2431 Devine St.
    Columbia, SC 29205

About J.E. Wilson Advisors, LLC

James Wilson founded J.E. Wilson Advisors, LLC in 1982. According to the firm’s brochure, it’s the oldest fee-only financial advisory firm in South Carolina. Wilson is the firm’s sole owner and also serves as CEO and chief compliance officer.

Services offered by J.E. Wilson Advisors include wealth management and financial goal planning. Most of the firm’s clients are individual investors, including those who are high net worth, though it also works with some institutional clients. The firm operates from one office in Columbia, S.C.

J.E. Wilson Advisors, LLC investing strategy

For the most part, portfolios built by J.E. Wilson Advisors will consist of a diversified mix of low-cost mutual funds. The firm also recommends ETFs to help achieve a wide array of asset diversification, though in general, portfolios will not include individual stocks or bonds. The firm also says that it prioritizes minimizing fees, expenses and taxes when investing.

J.E. Wilson Advisors follows an investment strategy called Evidence Based Investing, an approach that aims to reduce risk through systemic diversification across asset classes. In general, the firm’s goal when investing client assets is to help their clients maintain their purchasing power over the long term.

J.E. Wilson Advisors, LLC disciplinary disclosures

J.E. Wilson Advisors 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 from the last 10 years. You can get additional information about the firm by visiting its IAPD page.

7. Allison Investment Management, LLC

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  • Minimum assets required: $500,000
  • AUM: $102,160,000
  • Individual investor to advisor ratio: 43:1
  • Fee structure:
    • A percentage of AUM
  • Firm phone number: 803-806-8400
  • Headquarters address:
    1201 Lincoln St., Suite 301
    Columbia, SC 29201

About Allison Investment Management, LLC

In 2002, John Allison and his son David founded Allison Investment Management, LLC. The former serves as the firm’s president and chief investment officer, while the latter serves as vice president; the two share ownership of the firm, with John Allison owning the largest share.

Allison Investment Management offers investment advisory and wealth management services (including financial planning) to individuals who both are and are not considered high net worth, as well as to pension and profit-sharing plans and corporate entities. New clients are required to invest at least $500,000.

Allison Investment Management is headquartered in Columbia, S.C., and it has an additional office in Wrightsville Beach, N.C.

Allison Investment Management, LLC investing strategy

Advisors at Allison Investment Management use qualitative and quantitative analysis to evaluate markets, sectors and securities for its clients’ portfolios. This entails screening prospective investments with valuation methods, which aim to determine the worth of an asset or company, as well as evaluating elements like a company’s management and organizational structure.

The firm manages each client account separately and does not offer model portfolios. As a client, your portfolio would be created using equity and fixed income investments and customized based on your risk tolerance, time horizon and financial objectives.

Allison Investment Management, LLC disciplinary disclosures

This financial advisory firm does not have any reportable disciplinary events to disclose. If a firm has incurred an any disciplinary actions — which the SEC defines as any regulatory, disciplinary, or civil judicial event involving either the firm, an employee or an affiliate — it is required to disclose details in its SEC-filed materials, including client-facing brochures. For further information regarding Allison Investment Management, check out its IAPD page.

8. William B. Walkup & Associates, Inc.

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  • Minimum assets required: $10,000
  • AUM: $109,942,355
  • Individual investor to advisor ratio: 18:1
  • Fee structure:
    • A percentage of AUM
    • Hourly charges
  • Firm phone number: 803-462-9395
  • Headquarters address:
    142 Atrium Way
    Columbia, SC 29223

About William B. Walkup & Associates, Inc.

This investment advisory firm was founded in 1992 by its namesake, William B. Walkup, who currently serves as the firm’s owner, president and chief compliance officer. William B. Walkup & Associates works with individuals, trusts, estates, business entities and pooled investment vehicles that have some connection to the firm — a requirement of the firm is that all clients must be friends with and known and trusted by either William B. Walkup, Christopher J. Walkup or Richard B. Newsome, all of whom work at the firm. The firm also has a $10,000 minimum investment requirement.

In addition to investment advisory services, the firm also offers financial planning and services for stock investment and cash management partnerships. William B. Walkup & Associates operates from its headquarters in Columbia and has no additional locations.

William B. Walkup & Associates, Inc. investing strategy

Like many firms, William B. Walkup & Associates uses asset allocation strategies to manage its portfolios. The creation of portfolios is informed by each client’s financial particulars, such as their investment objectives, time horizon and risk tolerance.

When evaluating potential investments, William B. Walkup & Associates relies on fundamental analysis (which aims to determine the inherent quality of an investment) and technical analysis (which attempts to identify patterns in data to predict an investment’s future performance).

William B. Walkup & Associates, Inc. disciplinary disclosures

William B. Walkup & Associates has no disclosures to report, meaning it has a clean disciplinary record. Financial advisory firms registered with the SEC are required to report any regulatory, criminal or civil judicial incidents from within the last decade that involve the firm or its employees in their paperwork filed with the SEC. For more information, visit the firm’s IAPD page.

9. Paragon Financial Advisors, LLC

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  • Minimum assets required: $150,000
  • AUM: $61,084,155
  • Individual investor to advisor ratio: 15:1
  • Fee structure:
    • A percentage of AUM
    • Hourly charges
  • Firm phone number: 803-561-9000
  • Headquarters address:
    1226 Briargate Circle
    Columbia, SC 29210

About Paragon Financial Advisors, LLC

Paragon Financial Advisors, LLC was founded in 2002. The firm is owned and operated by Meredith Cox and Mark Zion, both of whom are principals at the firm.

Paragon Financial Advisors extends its services to individuals (including high net worth individuals) and pension and profit-sharing plans; generally, it requires its clients to invest at least $150,000. Paragon Financial Advisors provides a number of services, including wealth management, retirement planning, college planning, estate planning and succession planning. It also offers brokerage accounts and traditional and Roth IRAs, as well as retirement plans designed for employee groups such as 401(k) plans.

The firm is headquartered in Columbia. It does not have any additional office locations.

Paragon Financial Advisors, LLC investing strategy

Paragon Financial Advisors is a proponent of modern portfolio theory, which is typical of many investment firms. Modern portfolio theory is centered on the belief that the markets are efficient and investor returns are mainly influenced by asset allocation decisions, rather than market timing or individual stock picking. Clients of the firm will have access to diversified portfolios that include mutual funds; these are passively managed and typically only available to institutional investors and clients of certain investment advisors.

When evaluating potential investments, Paragon Financial Advisors generally uses fundamental analysis, which aims to determine whether a company or investment is overvalued or undervalued. To make this determination, the firm considers both economic and financial factors, such as a company’s annual reports and information in financial publications.

Paragon Financial Advisors, LLC disciplinary disclosures

Paragon Financial Advisors does not have any regulatory, civil judicial or criminal events over the last 10 years to report. Firms registered with the SEC are required to disclose any infractions that may impact a client’s evaluation of the firm or its management. For more information about the firm, visit its IAPD page.

Financial advisors in Columbia, S.C.: FAQ

South Carolina has a state income tax that ranges from 0% to 7%. Residents do not have to pay inheritance tax or estate tax, as South Carolina does not levy taxes on the transfer of inherited property. However, keep in mind the federal government does impose an estate tax.

Many financial advisor firms focus on providing retirement planning to clients, or at the very least offer some sort of retirement-related financial services. That said, some financial advisory firms focus exclusively on wealth advising, charitable giving, family office services or other types of financial planning or investment management. If retirement planning is a priority for you, make sure to ask a potential advisor whether they have experience providing this service.

While this list provides a number of financial advisors you can use to kickstart your search, finding the best financial advisor for you really comes down to your particular financial needs and preferences. For example, if you value a small, boutique firm with individualized services, your choice of the best financial advisor will differ from someone seeking a large company with a broad array of services.

You’ll want to find an advisor who offers the services you need and is experienced in working with clients like you. Two additional common rules of thumb are to seek out fee-only firms and those with clean disciplinary records.

The short answer: Yes. Financial advisors that are bound by fiduciary duty must put their clients’ best interests before their own. All financial advisors who are registered investment advisors, or RIAs (meaning they are registered with the Securities and Exchange Committee), are bound by fiduciary duty. However, not all financial advisors are RIAs, which means that some can put their interests ahead of their clients’ to earn commissions or other incentives at their clients’ expense. Make sure you know an advisor’s registration status before committing to work with them.