Review of Savant Capital Management

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Reviewed By

Updated on Friday, June 12, 2020

Savant Capital Management is an independent, fee-only firm that offers wealth management, financial planning and consulting services. The firm has more than 60 advisors and operates out of 17 offices — the firm has its headquarters in Rockford, Ill., and most offices are located in the state (there are also offices in Arizona, New Mexico, Wisconsin and the Washington D.C. metro area.) The firm’s investment management business has $6.7 billion in assets under management (AUM), and most of its clients are individuals or high net worth individuals.

All information included in this profile is accurate as of June 12, 2020. For more information, please consult Savant Capital Management’s website.

Assets under management: $6,752,191,314
Minimum investment: None
Fee structure: A percentage of AUM; hourly charges; fixed fees
Headquarters: 190 Buckley Drive
Rockford, IL 61107
(815) 227-0300

Overview of Savant Capital Management

Savant Capital Management is an Illinois-based, fee-only firm that was launched in its current form in 1993 by Thomas Muldowney and Brent Brodeski. The firm grew out of Savant Planning Group, founded by Muldowney in 1986. The founder retired from the firm in 2016, and Brodeski, who remains CEO, recapitalized the firm with his own money along with investments from employees, family offices and other investors.

The firm has been on an acquisition spree since then. Notable purchases include D3 Financial Counselors in 2018, which continues to operate under its own name, and, most recently, Huber Financial Advisors. Savant Capital Management currently has 174 employees, 62 of whom serve as investment advisors.

Additionally, Savant Capital Management owns a subsidiary accounting firm, Savant Tax & Consulting, which primarily serves medical and dental practices. The firm also runs the Women’s Wealth Initiative, a series of educational events and services aimed at helping women build their financial future.

What types of clients does Savant Capital Management serve?

The firm primarily serves individuals, including high net worth individuals (who the SEC defines as someone with at least $750,000 under management or a net worth of at least $1.5 million), but the firm offers different services depending on the size and complexity of a client’s portfolio. To qualify for Savant Wealth Management, clients must meet one of the following requirements:

  • Have an investment portfolio of $500,000 within a year
  • Anticipate a portfolio of $1 million within five years
  • Be an immediate family member of a client with a portfolio of more than $5 million
  • Be willing to pay a minimum fee of $5,000 per year for investment management

Clients with lower balances can receive asset management services through the Savant Portfolios Program or the Savant Accelerator Program.

In addition to individual investors, Savant Capital Management also offers services to pension and profit-sharing plans, charitable organizations and corporations.

Services offered by Savant Capital Management

Savant Capital Management provides a few levels of asset management:

  • Savant Wealth Management: The most robust offering is Savant Wealth Management. Clients in this program get a dedicated financial advisor and access to the largest breadth of asset types, as well as financial planning and family office services.
  • Savant Accelerator Program: The firm makes the same services from its Savant Wealth Management program available to select clients with lower balances who are committed to saving aggressively through its Savant Accelerator Program, in exchange for a fee schedule that increases annually.
  • Savant Portfolios Program: Other clients receive asset management services through the Savant Portfolios Program, which uses the same asset allocation models as Savant Wealth Management, but with a narrower fund selection.

The Savant Wealth Management program includes financial planning, but clients can also pay a la carte for that service. Clients who are interested in a digital advising program can get goals-based advice through the robo-advisor Betterment, which acts as a sub-advisor in Savant Wealth Management’s Beacon program.

In addition to portfolio management and financial planning, the firm also provides estate and wealth transfer services, tax preparation services and accounting services.

Here’s a comprehensive list of what the firm offers:

  • Asset management
  • Financial planning
    • Visions and goals planning
    • Investment planning
    • Retirement planning
    • Estate planning and administration
    • Charitable planning
    • Education planning
    • Business planning and succession
    • Income tax planning
    • Debt management
    • Divorce planning
    • Insurance/risk management
  • Retirement plan consulting services
  • Tax preparation services
  • Accounting services
  • Workshops and seminars
  • Newsletters and publications

How Savant Capital Management invests your money

Savant Capital Management uses an investment committee, composed mostly of Savant employees, to create its model portfolios and overall investment strategy. The firm uses several methods to analyze potential investments and portfolios, including computer-based risk-return analysis, statistical analysis and qualitative research.

Portfolios may include mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), individual equities and fixed-income securities. The firm also uses alternative asset classes, including real estate investment trusts and commodities. The firm’s available model portfolios — which are recommended based on a client’s specific preferences, risk tolerance and situation — range from a Preservation Model composed entirely of fixed income to a Capital Appreciation Plus Model that is entirely equity. In general, Savant Capital management aims to keep portfolios as low-cost and tax-efficient as possible.

Clients who are interested in aligning their investments with their values can also choose a “sustainability objective” portfolio or a “social values objective portfolio.” These portfolios follow the same asset allocation and diversification principles as other Savant Capital Management portfolios and do not require an extra fee.

Fees Savant Capital Management charges for its services

For asset management clients, the firm charges a percentage of assets under management, with different rates depending on which program the client uses. For all clients, the asset management fee depends on the complexity of a client’s financial situation and their total account balance. Savant Capital Management may increase or lower the minimum annual fee at its discretion.

Fee Schedule for Savant Capital Management Asset Management Programs
Program Rate Minimum Annual Fee
Savant Wealth Management 0.5% to 1% (annualized) $5,000
Savant Portfolio Program 1% to 1.5% (annualized) $900
Savant Accelerator Program Either 1% of assets or a stepped minimum annual fee, based on their number of years in the program, whichever is greater Fee begins at $2,500 in year 1 of program, increasing by $750 per year until it reaches $10,000 per year in year 11

In addition to asset-based fees, clients may also have to cover third-party fees, such as third-party advisory fees. Those in the Beacon program, in which Betterment acts as a sub-advisor, pay 0.75% of assets under management to Savant Capital Management and a sub-advisor fee of 0.15%.

Financial planning clients who do not participate in asset management programs pay either for services on either a project basis, with the fixed rate ranging from $250 to $5,000, depending on the scope and focus of the project. Savant Capital Management also states that it can provide financial consultation, for an hourly fee ranging from $100 to $500 an hour, determined by the topic under discussion and the service provider.

Savant Capital Management’s highlights

  • Fee-only, independent firm: Savant Capital Management has no financial incentive to recommend specific products or services. Unlike some other advisors, the advisors at Savant Capital Management get paid solely based on a client’s assets under management, which eliminates many conflicts of interest.
  • Highly credentialed advisors: A review of the firm’s advisors shows that nearly all are certified financial planners (CFPs), and many hold multiple designations that require advanced coursework and experience.
  • Low account minimum: Clients who don’t have enough to invest with Savant Wealth Management can still access services through the Savant Portfolios program.
  • Industry recognition: Savant Capital Management has received many accolades for its work. Among them: inclusion on Barron’s 2019 list of America’s Top RIA Firms, Financial Advisor’s 2019 RIA Ranking and the Financial Times FT 300 list of top investment advisors.
  • No disciplinary disclosures: Savant Capital Management has not had any legal or disciplinary events (see below).

Savant Capital Management’s downsides

  • Potentially high fees for low-balance accounts: The fees for clients in the Savant Portfolio Program, who have less than $500,000 to invest, typically range from 1% to 1.50%, though clients with balances below $60,000 could pay even more. Since the firm does not disclose its exact fee schedule, it’s hard to tell how its fees compare to the industry average of 1.17%, according to a 2019 study by RIA in a Box. Still, it is possible clients could pay well above that average rate at Savant.
  • Limited geographic footprint: While the firm is registered in every state, all but five of its 17 offices are located in Illinois. This may make it harder to meet with your advisor in person if you live outside of a state where the firm has an office.
  • Pays for referrals: Savant Capital Management pays ongoing fees to certain third parties such as TD Ameritrade, SmartAsset and Schwab. When someone recommends the firm to you, make sure to ask why they’re making the recommendation.

Savant Capital Management disciplinary disclosures

Savant Capital Management does not have any disciplinary events to disclose in its Form ADV, a form all registered investment advisory firms must file with the SEC. Disciplinary disclosures include criminal charges and legal or regulatory action against the firm, its advisors or its affiliates.

Savant Capital Management onboarding process

Potential clients can get started with Savant Capital Management by scheduling a free consultation with an advisor. You can do that by either filling out this request form or calling your local office.

If you decide to move ahead with the firm, you’ll start the “Ideal Futures Financial Health Assessment,” in which an advisor will walk you through 10 key financial planning areas to determine your current financial picture and goals, and whether you’re using all of the financial strategies and tools available to you. Next, you’ll enter the “Building Ideal Futures Process,” a five-step approach that involves creating and implementing a plan. Part of that plan will include the creation of “The Ideal Futures Portfolio,” which advisors will help you monitor and adjust, as necessary, over time.

Savant Capital Management provides written reports to clients on a quarterly basis.

Is Savant Capital Management right for you?

Savant Capital Management could be a good choice for you if you live in Illinois, and especially the Chicagoland area — or don’t care about meeting your advisor face-to-face — and want independent, fee-only financial advice. However, investors who are concerned about fees and don’t have a huge balance, or who don’t live near a Savant Capital Management office, might be better served by a different firm.

As always, when making a decision regarding your financial life, it’s always important to consider what’s most important to you and to compare your available options. When you meet with an advisor, don’t hesitate to ask questions and make sure you fully understand what’s being offered and the costs involved.

The “Find a Financial Advisor” links contained in this article will direct you to webpages devoted to MagnifyMoney Advisor (“MMA”). After completing a brief questionnaire, you will be matched with certain financial advisers who participate in MMA’s referral program, which may or may not include the investment advisers discussed.