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Updated on Friday, March 6, 2020
SurePath Wealth Management is a registered investment advisor (RIA) that is headquartered in Austin, Texas, with an additional office in Columbus, Ohio. The firm is fairly new, as it’s only been in business since 2016. It currently has more than $65 million in assets under management (AUM), with six employees handling investment advisory services. SurePath specializes in investment management and financial planning for individual investors, and it also partners with online roboadvisor Betterment for some clients.
All information included in this profile is accurate as of March 6, 2020. For more information, please consult SurePath Wealth Management’s website.
|Assets under management: $65,886,191|
|Minimum investment: No minimum account size requirement|
|Fee structure: A percentage of AUM, up to 1.50%; hourly fees; fixed fees|
|Headquarters:||508 W. 12th Street|
Austin, Texas 78701
Overview of SurePath Wealth Management
SurePath Wealth Management was launched in March 2016 out of Texas by Patrick Brewer, who remains the firm’s chief investment officer. Brewer and two of the firm’s main financial advisors, Jason Mirabella and Ryan Mannen, own the firm, while several of the other advisors at the firm are also partners. Per the most recent SEC filings, the firm has nine employees, of which six perform investment advisory services.
The SurePath Wealth Management investment team has a solid mix of certifications and specialties, including certified financial planners (CFP), chartered financial analysts (CFA), tax experts and insurance specialists. While the firm is relatively new, its investment team has over six decades of combined experience from working at other financial institutions.
What types of clients does SurePath Wealth Management serve?
Nearly all of SurePath Wealth Management’s clients are individual investors. About 70% of the firm’s clients are non-high net worth individuals, while virtually all of the rest are high net worth individuals. (For reference, the SEC defines a high net worth individual as someone who has at least $750,000 under management or a net worth of at least $1.5 million.)
SurePath Wealth Management also works with a few pension and profit-sharing plans. The firm’s brochure states that it’s also open to working with business development companies, corporations and charitable organizations, though its SEC filings show the firm does not currently have any of these clients.
SurePath Wealth Management does not have a minimum account size requirement for new clients, which could make the firm an option for non-wealthy investors who may get blocked out of other RIAs due to their account minimum requirements.
Services offered by SurePath Wealth Management
SurePath Wealth Management offers two main services: investment and portfolio management and financial planning. On the investment management side, the firm creates individually tailored portfolios for each client based on their objectives, time horizon, risk tolerance and liquidity needs. After the firm has created the portfolio, the advisors typically follow a discretionary management system, where they can make trades on a client’s behalf to achieve the determined goals.
Depending on the client’s needs and account size, the SurePath Wealth Management advisors may recommend that they set up their portfolio through roboadvisor Betterment. In this arrangement, Betterment will primarily run the client’s portfolio, while SurePath Wealth Management works as a consultant to monitor performance.
For financial planning services through SurePath, a client can either purchase a one-time financial plan to follow on their own, or they can engage in an ongoing relationship where they meet with the SurePath Wealth Management advisors to track their progress. If a client brings at least $500,000 in investable assets, SurePath Wealth Management will include financial planning services for free alongside portfolio management.
Here is a full list of services provided by SurePath Wealth Management?
- Investment advisory services and portfolio management (mostly discretionary)
- Financial planning
- Retirement planning
- Trust and estate planning
- Education planning
- Business planning
- Tax planning and management
- Cash flow forecasting
- Long-term care planning
- Debt management
- Employee benefits optimization
- Insurance/risk management
- Collaboration with clients’ lawyers, accountants, etc.
How SurePath Wealth Management invests your money
SurePath Wealth Management creates a customized portfolio for each client based on their goals and financial plan. In terms of picking the actual investments, the SurePath Wealth Management advisors follow two main strategies: fundamental analysis and passive management.
With fundamental analysis, they try to find stocks and other investments that are incorrectly priced. They do so by researching their financial statements, product line, management team and future outlook to estimate the actual underlying value of an investment, then seeing how that value compares against the market price. By finding discrepancies and taking advantage of them, the advisors hope to earn higher returns for their clients.
This is balanced out by an overall passive management strategy. The advisors at SurePath Wealth Management use index funds and ETFs to keep costs low and create more tax-efficient portfolios for their clients. Their goal is to set up a base portfolio with the correct asset mix and then avoid frequent trading, which can drive up fees.
Fees SurePath Wealth Management charges for its services
For investment services, SurePath Wealth Management charges a fee based on a percentage of asset under management, with the rate dependent on portfolio size. The firm’s brochure does not list the exact fee range, just that its asset-based fee can go up to 1.50% per year and is negotiable based on a client’s account size and services needed.
If a client ends up partnering with Betterment instead, SurePath Wealth Management will charge 0.60% of the assets under management, unless the client has more than $10 million invested, at which point the rate is negotiable. On top of that, Betterment will charge an additional 0.25% per year, for a total asset-based fee of 0.85% per year for clients with portfolios up to $10 million.
Clients will also need to cover any brokerage fees, commissions, transaction fees and other common investment expenses that come up as the result of their portfolio recommendations. This applies to both clients who only work with SurePath Wealth Management and those who work with Betterment as well.
For financial planning services, SurePath Wealth Management charges between $500 to $20,000 to design the initial plan. If the client would like ongoing advice, SurePath Wealth Management then charges between $79 to $1,000 per month. Alternatively, SurePath Wealth Management can charge an hourly rate of between $250 to $500 for financial planning. If an investment client has a portfolio of at least $500,000 with SurePath Wealth Management, they receive financial planning for free.
|Investment agreement||Asset-based fee|
|Portfolios only with SurePath Wealth Management||Up to 1.50% per year|
|Portfolios up to $10 million with SurePath Wealth Management and Betterment||0.85% per year (0.60% to SurePath Wealth Management and 0.25% to Betterment)|
|Portfolios over $10 million with SurePath Wealth Management and Betterment||Negotiable (Negotiable with SurePath Wealth Management and 0.25% per year to Betterment)|
SurePath Wealth Management’s highlights
- Customized investment portfolios. Each client at SurePath Wealth Management receives a unique investment recommendation based on their personal goals and objectives.
- No investment account minimums. SurePath Wealth Management accepts accounts of any size, making the firm a viable option for non-high net worth investors.
- Strong credentials. The investment professionals at SurePath Wealth Management hold the prestigious CFP and CFA designations. The firm also has tax, insurance and college planning experts in-house.
- Free financial planning services for larger accounts. Clients who invest at least $500,000 with SurePath receive financial planning at no extra charge.
- A tech-savvy approach. The SurePath Wealth Management website could be considered very modern, as compared to a more traditional RIA. In addition, the firm partners with Betterment, a leading roboadvisor, for some of its clients.
SurePath Wealth Management’s downsides
- High investment fees. SurePath Wealth Management’s asset-based fee can go all the way up to 1.50% per year. In comparison, the typical fee for accounts below $1 million is 1%, according to Kitces, a blog for financial advisors. Even for accounts below $250,000, the median fee is around 1.25%, so SurePath Wealth Management looks costly in comparison to industry averages. Additionally, the firm does not publish a set fee schedule, so it’s hard to predict how much you may pay until you engage with the firm.
- Less service with Betterment. Clients who partner with Betterment will pay less than clients who exclusively work with SurePath, but also will receive less investment advice. The SurePath Wealth Management advisors will only consult on the portfolio while the roboadvisor handles day-to-day management.
- Small accounts must pay for financial planning. Investors with portfolios below $500,000 need to pay for financial planning, which requires a fixed fee of $500 to $20,000 to start followed by a monthly payments.
- There may be other RIAs that could offer more sophisticated strategies for the same fee. The SurePath Wealth Management investment strategy is based on fundamental analysis and passive management — while these aren’t bad strategies, they’re pretty basic. Other RIAs charging the same fee could offer more sophisticated strategies, like taking defensive positions and investing in alternative or international markets for higher returns.
- Potential conflicts of interest. Several of the SurePath Wealth Management advisors are also licensed agents for various insurance providers and earn compensation for selling their products. The firm’s brochure acknowledges that this is a potential conflict of interest, as the advisors could make extra money by recommending these products as part of a financial plan.
SurePath Wealth Management disciplinary disclosures
SurePath Wealth Management does not have any disciplinary disclosures. If an RIA runs into some form of misconduct, like a criminal charge, regulatory fine or civil lawsuit, it must report that in its Form ADV, paperwork filed with the SEC. SurePath Wealth Management has not run into any of these issues since the firm launched in 2016.
SurePath Wealth Management onboarding process
If someone wants to learn more about working with SurePath Wealth Management, they should start by contacting the firm by phone at (512)-994-0766 or through the submission form on its website, which asks for contact information. From there, a SurePath Wealth Management advisor will schedule a 15-minute consultation to see whether the firm is a good fit.
If the client is interested in signing up, the advisor will then design their customized portfolio based on their goals, time horizon, risk tolerance and other factors. The firm will also negotiate the client’s asset-based fee depending on their portfolio size. If the client is happy with the terms, they can sign a contract to launch the agreement. From there, the advisors will oversee the portfolio and meet with the client regularly to discuss performance.
Is SurePath Wealth Management right for you?
If you have a smaller portfolio, but still want the hands-on advice of an experienced investment team, SurePath Wealth Management could be worth considering — the firm is willing to take on clients with any account size. In addition, it has a management team with strong credentials and works with Betterment, one of the leading online roboadvisors.
But if you’re concerned about fees, SurePath Wealth Management may not be a great fit. The firm’s asset-based fee can be far above the industry average, and it also charges extra for financial planning services unless you invest at least $500,000. If you have this kind of large portfolio, you may want to compare your options before signing up, as other RIAs may offer more sophisticated investment advice at a lower cost than SurePath Wealth Management.