Review of Mariner Wealth Advisors

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Updated on Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Mariner Wealth Advisors is an investment advisor that also offers financial planning, business consulting, tax preparation and other services. The firm is headquartered in Overland Park, Kan., but it has additional locations throughout the country.

The firm has 305 employees working in an investment advisory capacity, and it manages over $29.4 billion in assets under management (AUM). Mariner Wealth Advisors works with individual investors both with and without a high net worth.

All information included in this profile is accurate as of June 16, 2020. For more information, please consult Mariner Wealth Advisors’s website.

Assets under management: $29,434,612,873
Minimum investment: $100,000 for a personally managed account
Fee structure: A percentage of AUM, up to 2.50%; hourly charges; fixed fees
Headquarters: 5700 W. 112th St., Suite 500
Overland Park, KS 66211
www.marinerwealthadvisors.com
(913) 904-5700

financial advisor

Overview of Mariner Wealth Advisors

Marty Bicknell founded Mariner Wealth Advisors in 2006 along with seven other colleagues. Their goal was to improve the client experience by offering multiple financial services in one location. Bicknell continues to serve as the firm’s CEO and owns the firm along with others through an LLC. In 2016, Bicknell was named one of the top 25 most influential people in the investment/financial industry by Investment Advisor magazine. He’s also been on Barron’s top 100 advisor ranking for over a decade.

The firm has 672 employees, of which 305 perform investment advisor services. Many of the firm’s advisors, especially those in leadership positions, have certifications like the certified financial planner (CFP), chartered financial analyst (CFA) and certified personal accountant (CPA) designations. Mariner Wealth Advisors has locations throughout the entire country, though they are mostly concentrated in the central and eastern states; the firm only has a few locations on the West Coast.

Which types of clients does Mariner Wealth Advisors serve?

Mariner Wealth Advisors works primarily with individual investors. The firm’s clients are both non-high net worth and high net worth individuals as defined by the SEC (high net worth individuals are defined as those who have invested at least $750,000 with an advisor or have a net worth over $1.5 million). The firm’s website notes that it specializes in working with P&G employees, professional athletes, executives, professionals in the tech and financial space and closely-held business owners.

It only takes a minimum investment of $100,000 to launch a managed account with Mariner Wealth Advisors, where the firm designs a custom portfolio. For even smaller accounts, Mariner Wealth Advisors can oversee a portfolio of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) from Charles Schwab, which only requires a minimum investment of $5,000.

While the bulk of the firm’s AUM comes from working with individuals, Mariner Wealth Advisors also works with pension and profit-sharing plans, charitable organizations, estates, trusts, private funds, corporations and other business entities.

Services offered by Mariner Wealth Advisors

Mariner Wealth Advisors provides investment advice and portfolio management for clients. The firm usually works in a discretionary fashion, meaning its advisors can make trades on behalf of a client. However, the advisors can accept restrictions and limitations, depending on the client’s goals.

For clients with at least $100,000, Mariner Wealth Advisors runs a managed account program where it builds customized portfolios of equity and fixed income investments. For clients with less than $100,000, Mariner Wealth Advisors can also offer portfolio management, but would instead build the plan using ETFs from Charles Schwab rather than customized investments.

Additionally, Mariner Wealth Advisors offers financial planning, tax preparation, retirement plan consulting and family office services. Clients investing with Mariner Wealth Advisors typically receive financial planning as part of their agreement, though they may need to pay more for more complicated circumstances.

To expand its offerings, Mariner Wealth Advisors allows clients to sign up with third parties to access a wider range of investments. In addition, Mariner Wealth Advisors participates in wrap and managed account programs to design portfolios for the clients of outside advisors. Mariner Wealth Advisors can also process trades for investors as a broker-dealer through its affiliate, MSEC.

Here is a full list of services that the firm can offer its clients:

  • Investment advisory services/portfolio management (separately managed and wrap fee accounts; mostly discretionary with some non-discretionary)
  • Financial planning
    • Trust and estate planning
    • Insurance planning
    • Education planning
    • Tax consulting and preparation
    • Divorce planning
    • Retirement planning
    • Business planning
    • IRA and 401(k) rollovers
  • Retirement plan consulting and management services
  • Workshops and seminars
  • Newsletters and publications
  • Brokerage services (through MSEC)

How Mariner Wealth Advisors invests your money

Mariner Wealth Advisors doesn’t offer standardized portfolios for everyone. Instead, the firm customizes its investment recommendations based on each client’s goals, risk tolerance, timeline and other factors. Portfolios contain a diverse mix of assets including stocks, bonds, ETFs, mutual funds and limited partnerships, though clients with less than $100,000 would be limited to a portfolio of Charles Schwab ETFs. Mariner Wealth Advisors also designs options portfolios using derivatives instead of traditional investments.

Mariner Wealth Advisors’ portfolio recommendations tend to have a long-term focus, for goals of at least a year, but they can design shorter-term plans depending on a client’s needs. The firm is open to both active and passive strategies, and its brochure lists a range of possibilities depending on the type of portfolio.

For stock-focused portfolios, the firm’s primary goal is usually capital appreciation, and can also include dividend-focused strategies, GARP (growth at a reasonable price) and socially conscious investing as secondary goals. For bond fixed income portfolios, the firm’s top priority is capital preservation followed by secondary goals of capital appreciation and steady, tax-efficient revenue.

Mariner Wealth Advisors has an Investment Committee, led by its chief investment officer, overseeing this process. The committee performs due diligence on potential investment strategies, managers and products before they are available for client portfolios. When the Investment Committee approves strategies and products, they go on an approved list so that their advisors know they could potentially recommend them to clients.

Fees Mariner Wealth Advisors charges for its services

Investment advisory services fees: For its investment advisory services, Mariner Wealth Advisors charges clients based on a percentage of assets under management. The maximum rate varies depending on which program clients use, as shown in the table below.

Mariner Wealth Advisors Investment Advisory Fee Schedule
Program Asset Under Management Fee
Managed investment advisory program Up to 2.50%
Options strategies Up to 1.50%
Institutional Intelligent Portfolios® through Charles Schwab Up to 1.00%

Besides the asset-based fee, clients could also be responsible for trading costs like administrative expenses, brokerage commissions and fund expenses.

Financial planning services fees: Mariner Wealth Advisors could include basic financial planning for investment advisory clients. If a client needs more sophisticated financial planning or tax preparation work, they need to pay extra. Mariner Wealth Advisors could charge an hourly fee, a fixed fee or a percentage of the client’s assets (up to 0.25%). You negotiate the fee structure when signing up.

Mariner Wealth Advisors’ highlights

  • Customized portfolios: Mariner Wealth Advisors customizes its portfolio recommendations for each client based on their unique goals, risk tolerance and investment preferences. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach.
  • Open to different strategies: Mariner Wealth Advisors does not focus on just one type of investing. Clients can pick between passive and active strategies, while setting priorities like capital appreciation, dividend generation and savings protection.
  • Wide range of services: Besides investment management, Mariner Wealth Advisors also offers financial planning, tax management, business consulting, retirement plan consulting and for very high net worth clients, family planning services. The firm also operates a broker-dealer through MSEC.
  • Low account minimums: It takes just $100,000 to open a managed investment account with Mariner Wealth Advisors, which is lower in comparison to many other financial advisory firms. Clients with less money also have the option to open an account for just $5,000 through Charles Schwab that Mariner Wealth Advisors will then oversee.
  • Highly awarded performance: From 2016 to 2019, Mariner Wealth Advisors ranked in among the top four of RIAs, according to Barron’s. Mariner Wealth Advisors has also won awards from Forbes, the Financial Times and ThinkAdvisor.

Mariner Wealth Advisors’ downsides

  • Potentially high fees: Mariner Wealth Advisors’ asset-based fee can go up to 2.50%. In comparison, the average total advisor fee is 1.17%, according to a 2019 study from RIA in the Box. For clients who pay the maximum rate at Mariner Wealth Advisors, their rate could end up more than twice as high as the average rate.
  • Conflict of interest from fees: The firm’s brochure notes that its fee structure could create a conflict of interest. Advisors at the firm have an incentive to recommend products and investments that generate higher revenue for the firm
  • Broker-dealer service could lead to excess trading: Mariner Wealth Advisors could use its broker-dealer service, MSEC, to execute trades for a client’s portfolio. The firm earns commissions for each transaction, possibly creating an incentive to trade more frequently and increase costs.

Mariner Wealth Advisors disciplinary disclosures

Mariner Wealth Advisors does not have any disciplinary disclosures to report.

If a registered investment advisor (RIA) faces a disciplinary event, including a criminal charge, regulatory infraction or civil lawsuit, it must report the incident on its Form ADV, paperwork filed with the SEC. The firm must report all incidents that happened over the past 10 years.

Mariner Wealth Advisors onboarding process

Mariner Wealth Advisors offers a quick submission form on its website that you can fill out to request a meeting. You will be asked to provide your name, location, contact information and a quick summary of what you’re looking for. You can also use the firm’s website to search through advisors on staff and reach out directly to one who you think is a good fit.

Once you’ve reached out to the firm, an advisor will schedule an initial meeting to learn more about your goals, portfolio size, risk tolerance and desired investment strategy. With this information, the advisor will design your customized portfolio and set the fees. Mariner Wealth Advisors’ Investment Committee oversees each manager’s decisions to make sure that what they recommend is appropriate for your portfolio.

If you like the arrangement, you can accept the plan to join as a formal client. The advisor will then meet with you on a regular basis to update your portfolio as needed.

Is Mariner Wealth Advisors right for you?

If you’re looking for an advisor that can handle multiple parts of your financial plan, then Mariner Wealth Advisors could be a good choice, thanks to all of its different services. The firm could also be a good choice for investors with smaller portfolios. Mariner Wealth Advisors’ investment minimum is just $100,000 for its managed portfolios, and it only takes $5,000 to invest through the firm’s Charles Schwab partnership.

If you’re trying to minimize expenses in your portfolio though, Mariner Wealth Advisors might not be the best fit. The firm’s maximum asset-based fee can run quite high — more than double the market average. The fee structure could also increase costs through conflicts of interest, such as commissions from its broker-dealer service leading to excess trading. Make sure to ask your advisor how they would avoid these issues before signing on.

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