Review of Churchill Management Group

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Reviewed By

Updated on Friday, August 28, 2020

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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