Review of First Republic Investment Management

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Reviewed By

Updated on Monday, August 10, 2020

First Republic Investment Management is a registered investment advisor headquartered in San Francisco, with additional locations along the East and West coasts, as well as one in Jackson, Wyo. The firm’s team of more than 640 employees provides investment management and financial planning services to individuals and institutions. Today, the firm has more than $87 billion in assets under management (AUM).

All information included in this profile is accurate as of August 10, 2020. For more information, please consult First Republic Investment Management’s website.

Assets under management: $87,280,528,053
Minimum investment: None specified, but minimum annual fee of $7,500 required for investment advisory services
Fee structure: A percentage of AUM; fixed fees; performance-based fees
Headquarters: 111 Pine Street
San Francisco, CA 94111
firstrepublic.com/private-wealth-management/
(415)-392-1400

Overview of First Republic Investment Management

First Republic Investment Management is the private wealth management arm of First Republic Bank. The parent bank, which purchased the investment management group in 1999, is a California state-chartered commercial bank that provides personal and commercial banking services to individuals, businesses and nonprofits. First Republic Bank was founded in 1985, and has traded publicly on the New York Stock Exchange since 2010.

Today, the bank’s private wealth management division has a team of about 641 employees, with more than 330 performing investment advisory roles. The firm’s 28 offices are primarily located along the nation’s coasts, with a number of offices in California, as well as locations in Oregon, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York and Florida. Inland, the firm has an office in Wyoming.

What types of clients does First Republic Investment Management serve?

The firm caters to individuals and families, as well as their estates and charitable foundations. More than half of these clients are considered high net worth individuals, which the SEC defines as those who have at least $750,000 in assets under management or a net worth of at least $1.5 million.

The firm does not require a minimum investment amount for advisory services; however, clients are generally required to pay at least $7,500 in annual fees. The firm’s robo-advisor program, dubbed Eagle Invest, is an exception: It charges no minimum annual fee, but instead requires clients to invest at least $5,000.

Institutional investors round out the firm’s client list. Its roster includes pension plans, defined contribution plans, profit-sharing plans, private pooled investment vehicles, banks, corporations, nonprofits and other businesses, as well as Eagle Alternative Investment Funds.

Services offered by First Republic Investment Management

Clients can turn to First Republic to manage their portfolios and help plan their financial lives.

Investment management: When establishing a relationship, the firm helps clients identify their goals and objectives, review their current holdings and create a custom portfolio suited to their needs, which includes identifying suitable investment managers and funds. The firm then continuously monitors the portfolio and its performance.

Most clients establish a discretionary relationship, in which the advisor makes the daily trading decisions in the account without needing the client to sign off. Others choose a non-discretionary account, where clients receive recommendations from the advisor but maintain control over trading decisions.

Financial planning: First Republic offers more comprehensive financial planning services to high net worth clients, including many business owners. These clients can expect a detailed review of their goals and financial situation, addressing topics such as asset allocation, retirement, equity compensation, estate and generational planning, insurance and charitable giving. The firm also may recommend life, disability or long-term care insurance.

Robo-advisor service: Individuals with as little as $5,000 to invest or who are looking for less costly portfolio management can consider Eagle Invest, the firm’s robo-advisor program, which is offered through the third party FutureAdvisor. This online program uses a computer algorithm to invest a client’s funds based on their answers to a series of questions around risk tolerance, objectives and other aspects of their financial situations. Client money is invested in one model portfolio, largely spread across exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and money market funds, and can include up to nine equity and fixed income asset classes. Communication is intended to happen entirely online.

Private pooled investment vehicle management: Finally, the firm also manages some private pooled investment vehicles, known as the Eagle Alternative Investment funds. Wealth managers may recommend clients invest in those funds or directly into other private funds.

Here is a complete list of services offered by First Republic Investment Management:

  • Investment management services (separately managed and wrap fee accounts; discretionary and non-discretionary)
  • Financial planning
    • Retirement planning
    • Trust and estate planning
    • Charitable planning
    • Education planning
    • Business planning
    • Long-term care planning
    • Cash flow forecasting
    • Spending analysis and budgeting
  • IRA and 401(k) rollovers
  • Insurance and risk management for individuals and businesses
  • Trust and estate services
  • Employee benefit plan services
  • Workshops and seminars

Separately, a large portion of the firm’s wealth managers and representatives are licensed as broker dealers through the firm’s affiliated broker-dealer, First Republic Securities Company. Thus, outside of these advisory relationships, wealth managers can also buy and sell securities for clients and earn compensation per transaction, often in the form of a commission. Many of the firm’s wealth managers are also licensed to sell insurance products.

How First Republic Investment Management invests your money

When initially starting a relationship with First Republic, clients should expect a review of their goals and current financial situation. To create the client’s custom investment plan, wealth managers take into consideration characteristics like a client’s objectives, financial situation, time horizon, risk appetite, tax bracket and cash needs. The firm’s advisors each have their own investment philosophies and preferences, so performance can vary based on the wealth manager.

First Republic Investment Management offers many investment strategies across multiple asset classes, including publicly traded equities, fixed income and private securities. Multi-asset strategies can also include funds that invest in hedge funds, private equities and other categories, such as alternative investments and derivatives. Wealth managers also may recommend investing directly in a security or through a mutual fund, ETF or private fund.

Clients interested in environmental, social and governance issues should turn to the firm’s Sustainable and Responsible Investing team. This group can help clients factor into their portfolios issues that matter to them, such as resource and waste management, carbon emissions, factory conditions, product quality and safety and board diversification. On the flip side, clients opposed to certain activities can use specific screens that evaluate companies’ involvement in alcohol, tobacco, gambling, weapons, fossil fuels, genetically modified foods and more.

Fees First Republic Investment Management charges for its services

How much clients pay will vary by service and asset type, and their rate is negotiated with the wealth manager. For the management of fixed income portfolios, clients generally pay an annual fee calculated as a set percentage of the total assets under management. For equity portfolios, the annual fee is tiered, meaning clients pay a lower rate for additional assets invested. In some cases, clients simply pay a flat fee. Fees are charged quarterly in advance, and can be deducted from the account or billed to the client.

Keep in mind the firm typically charges a minimum annual fee of $7,500, which should be no more than 3% of assets under management. That minimum may be reduced in certain circumstances, though, and does not apply to the robo advisor Eagle Invest program.

Here are the firm’s standard fee schedules for equity/balanced portfolios and fixed income portfolios:

Incremental Fee for Equity/Balanced Portfolios
Assets Under ManagementIncremental Fee
First $2 million1.50%
$2 to $5 million1.25%
$5 to $10 million0.75%
$10 to $25 million0.60%
$25 million and up0.45%
Total Fee for Fixed Income Portfolios
Assets Under ManagementTotal Fee
$2 million to less than $10 million0.40%
$10 million to less than $25 million0.35%
$25 million or greater0.30%

On top of these advisory fees, clients can expect to owe internal fees on products they are invested in, including mutual funds, ETFs, certain private funds and insurance products. Some private funds may also charge performance-based fees, which are determined based on a percentage of the fund’s unrealized and realized gains and only apply if a certain benchmark is reached. Brokerage commission and transaction fees will also be added on top of these advisory fees in non-wrap accounts, where clients pay advisory, brokerage and custodian fees separately.

The firm does offer a wrap fee program, where transaction and custody costs are bundled in the fees. Wrap clients must use the affiliated First Republic Securities Company for brokerage services, which uses Pershing as its clearing broker.

The lower-cost robo advisor Eagle Invest program charges an annual fee of 0.40% of assets under management, which acts as a wrap fee and thus includes trading and custody costs.

Finally, financial planning and consulting clients pay a flat fee negotiated based on the scope of the work requested. Clients who use First Republic Bank and maintain certain amounts of money in their accounts can have these fees waived.

First Republic Investment Management’s highlights

  • Serves middle-income clients: Unlike many advisory firms that require a seven-figure investment to get in the door, more than 40% of First Republic’s individual clients do not classify as high net worth. Additionally, the firm does not require a strict minimum investment amount, though it does have a minimum annual fee of $7,500.
  • Offers flexible account options: First Republic Investment Management does not take a one-size-fits-all approach. Clients have a number of options in many regards: They can choose to wrap in trading and custody costs or pay separately; hand over day-to-day control of their account or hang onto it; open a separately managed account or go with the lower-cost robo-advisor program; or stick with publicly traded equities and fixed income or add in private funds with exposure to alternatives such as private equity and hedge funds.
  • Factors in sustainability and responsibility: A specific team at First Republic can help clients be mindful of certain environmental and responsibility issues that matter to them, as well as weed out companies with operations they’re opposed to, such as weapons, fossil fuels or genetically modified foods.
  • Provides discounts to bank customers: First Republic Bank clients who maintain specific deposit levels in their accounts can access financial planning and consulting services at no additional cost.
  • Offers cheaper online-only portfolio management: Investors just starting out, or who have smaller accounts, can consider the firm’s robo-advisor program, Eagle Invest. It charges an annual fee of 0.40% for portfolio management, and requires only $5,000 to start investing.

First Republic Investment Management’s downsides

  • Earns revenue for selling certain products: First Republic receives compensation for selling clients certain mutual funds and insurance products, creating a financial incentive for advisors to push those products. This creates a potential conflict of interest between clients and the firm. Additionally, the firm’s affiliated broker-dealer stands to earn revenue when wealth managers recommend particular mutual fund share classes or money market mutual funds.
  • Product referrals come with payments: Wealth managers at First Republic Investment Management are paid to recommend certain First Republic Bank products and services to clients, such as loans against their portfolio and their trust and estate services. Thus, always dig deeper if a particular service is being recommended. On the flip side, the firm also pays eight parties to recommend its investment management services to potential clients.
  • Incentivized to recommend its affiliated broker-dealer: First Republic has a financial incentive for advisors to recommend its affiliated broker-dealer, which may cost clients more than an unaffiliated broker.
  • Not all advisors can offer all services: Not all wealth managers can place clients into certain sophisticated private investments. Clients interested in those private funds should confirm what a potential advisor can offer them.
  • Limited geographic footprint: Most of the firm’s offices are primarily located on the East and West coasts, with a heavy presence in California and New York. Potential clients living in the middle of the country who want a local advisor may need to look elsewhere.

First Republic Investment Management disciplinary disclosures

All registered investment advisors are required by the SEC on their Form ADV paperwork to disclose disciplinary and legal events against the firm, its employees or an advisory affiliate that would be material to a client evaluating the firm and the integrity of the management team.

First Republic’s disclosures include one allegation from the SEC. The SEC alleged that from January 2014 through July 2018, the firm purchased, recommended or held more expensive mutual fund share classes that paid compensation to First Republic when other less expensive share classes were available, and did not adequately disclose this conflict of interest. First Republic settled with the SEC without admitting or denying the findings, paying about $1 million in disgorgement and prejudgement interest but no civil monetary penalty or fine. The SEC also settled with 78 other investment advisors at the same time for similar conduct.

First Republic also includes one disclosure about a specific individual.

First Republic Investment Management onboarding process

Potential clients can contact the wealth management division of First Republic by calling 800-392-1400, or searching for a local office in their area on the website’s Office Locations tab. You can also fill out a contact form on First Republic’s website to have the firm contact you.

Established clients can expect to receive ongoing reviews of their accounts from their wealth managers and reports at least quarterly. Clients should immediately notify their wealth manager about any changes in their investment objectives, risk tolerance or other financial situations, which may prompt more frequent reviews.

Is First Republic Investment Management right for you?

Clients living near one of First Republic Investment Management’s 28 offices may consider the firm if they’re looking for portfolio management and straightforward financial advice. (More comprehensive financial planning and consulting is limited to high net worth investors for a fee.) Investors with leaner pockets will appreciate that the firm works with clients not deemed high net worth, and even offers a less expensive online robo-advisor option for investors with as little as $5,000.

Keep in mind, however, that the firm can earn compensation from certain product recommendations, such as life insurance and mutual funds. What’s more, wealth managers are paid well to recommend the bank’s products. Thus, it is the client’s job to ask questions about why a product is being recommended and what the wealth manager or firm stands to gain from the recommendation.

As is always the case when you’re researching financial advisors, make sure you understand how much and from whom the advisor earns money off of your business. Then you can decide if the firm’s services and performance are worth the cost.

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