Review of Brighton Jones

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Reviewed By

Updated on Tuesday, August 18, 2020

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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