Review of Zacks Investment Management 2021

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Updated on Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Zacks Investment Management, a subsidiary of Zacks Investment Research, is a registered investment advisory firm that’s based in Chicago but serves clients across the U.S. and in Puerto Rico. The firm has almost 100 employees, with 10 serving in investment advisory roles, and manages over $6.2 billion in client assets. Though it primarily works with individuals and high net worth individuals, Zacks Investment Management also serves some institutional investors.

The bottom line: Zacks Investment Management uses comprehensive in-house research from its parent company to create highly customized portfolios, which is its key focus, rather than broad financial planning services.

  • Based in Chicago but can work clients from all states
  • Serves mostly non-high net worth individuals
  • Offers a robo-advisor service with a lower minimum
Assets under management: $6,216,317,967
Minimum investment: $500,00 for traditional investment advisory services
Individual investor to advisor ratio: 204:1
Fee structure: A percentage of AUM, fixed fees, performance-based fees
Headquarters: 227 West Monroe Street, Suite 4350
Chicago, IL 60606
Website:https://www.zacksim.com/
Phone: 312-265-9266

All information included in this profile is accurate as of  June 21, 2021. For more information, please consult Zacks Investment Management’s website.

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Overview of Zacks Investment Management

While Zacks Investment Management has been in business since 1992, its parent company, the financial investment research company Zacks Investment Research, has been around since 1978. Zacks Investment Research is still the backbone of how the firm invests for its clients, as it is responsible for reviewing and analyzing research to make investment decisions.

Zacks Investment Research, which owns Zacks Investment Management, is in turn principally owned by Mitch Zacks, the firm’s CEO and a senior portfolio manager, as well as a trust for the Zacks family. Mitch Zacks has written two books on investing, “Ahead of the Market” and “The Little Book of Stock Market Profits.” He’s the primary portfolio manager at the firm and has developed many of its proprietary investment models.

A look at the founder of Zacks Investment Management

The firm’s founder, MIT PhD Len Zacks, is known for his published work. An article he published in the Financial Analysts Journal in 1979 about using earnings estimate revisions for stock selection led to the creation of Zacks Investment Research as well as its subsequent innovations, including the EPS surprise, a concept still used across the investment industry.

Len Zacks also wrote a book called “The Handbook of Equity Market Anomalies.”

Zacks Investment Management’s pros

  • An emphasis on research: Zacks began as an investment research firm, which still exists as the firm’s parent company. While other firms may need to rely on research from third-party companies, Zacks Investment Management keeps it in-house and uses its research in every facet of the investment choices it makes for its clients.
  • Different strategies for different investors: Depending on the type of investor you are, how much money you’ll be investing and your long-term goals, Zacks has a strategy for you. The firm offers multiple funds as well. Zacks offers both asset allocation strategies and alternative investments strategies.
  • Features a lower-minimum robo-advisor option: Zacks Advantage only requires a $5,000 minimum investment for its online investment management program, which is far less than the $500,000 typically required for its traditional retail investment program. This makes the firm and its research accessible for many levels of investors.

Zacks Investment Management’s cons

  • Higher than average fees: The fees that Zacks Investment Management charges for certain investment strategies may be above industry average fees. MagnifyMoney reported in 2020 that the average annual fee among investment advisory firms ranges from 0.50% to 1.25% of assets under management. For Zacks’s main wealth management program, you’ll need to invest at least $3 million to get down to a 1.25% rate. If you have less than $500,000 in assets under management, you can expect to pay 1.80% every quarter, which is far above the industry average. At $500,000, the fee is 1.65%. However, there are lower fees for additional strategies, and for the robo-advisor program (see below for detailed fee tables).
  • Performance-based fees: These fees are charged when an investment manager hits a certain goal of investment returns. This fee typically applies only to investors who have at least $1 million in assets with the firm and are using certain strategies. These fees are charged when an investment manager hits a certain goal of investment returns, and can reach 20% of the total return above the high-water mark on the account. Performance-based fees could create potential conflicts of interest, as advisors may be incentivized to take greater risks to increase returns.
  • Financial planning only available through third parties: Though Zacks Investment Management does technically offer financial planning services, it offers these services through partnerships with third-party firms instead of directly. This is in contrast to many other firms, which will offer financial planning and investment management services all in-house. Zacks, on the other hand, is focused primarily on investing.

What types of clients does Zacks Investment Management serve?

Zacks Investment Management provides customized investment strategies and services to a variety of investors. Its primary focus is on individual investors who don’t have a high net worth, as this group makes up the majority of the firm’s individual investor client base. Here is a full list of the client types that Zacks Investment management serves:

The minimum investment required to work with Zacks varies depending on the type of account you want to open. For example, the account minimum for Zacks Advantage, the firm’s robo-advisor service, is much lower than the minimums for its traditional investment services, outlined below:

  • Zacks Advantage: $5,000
  • Wealth management program: Equity assets generally must equal $500,000, although this may be negotiable
  • Individual fixed-income securities account: Assets must be at least $500,000, although this may be negotiable

Services offered by Zacks Investment Management

Zacks Investment Management offers services for individual investors, financial professionals and institutional investors. For individual investors, the firm offers comprehensive wealth management, which includes detailed discussions about clients’ current financial situation and goals and the creation of a customized portfolio. Additionally, the firm offers Zacks Advantage, an online investment advisory program that invests mostly in exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

Zacks Index Services, a division of Zacks Investment Management, creates and manages quantitative investment models that are licensed and sponsors of unit investment trusts (UITs) and ETFs. These services used to only be available to institutional investors but are now available to individual investors as well.

For clients who request financial planning services, Zacks may refer them to third-party firms that will then provide these services rather than offering them directly.

Here is a list of services offered by the firm:

  • Investment management for individuals, institutions and investment companies (primarily on a discretionary basis)
  • Online investment advisory services through Zacks Advantage
  • Index services through Zacks Index Services

How Zacks Investment Management invests your money

When Zacks Investment Management creates client portfolios, it takes into account several factors, including wealth preservation, income strategies, aggressive growth and tax conscientiousness.

The firm manages clients’ portfolios using its in-house research, which considers both quantitative and qualitative criteria. The firm relies on models to determine how attractive certain stocks are across numerous scenarios. Data from parent company Zacks Investment Research is also used when managing client portfolios.

The firm offers a plethora of specific investment strategies, detailed in the table below. The one used for your portfolio will depend on your financial goals and your financial advisor’s recommendations. There are also private fund investment strategies offered, which are also covered in the below table.

Zacks Investment Management Funds and Strategies
Strategy/fund nameInvestment strategy
Zacks Quantitative StrategyThis stock-ranking model is based on earnings estimate revisions and earnings surprises. It purchases between 125 and 260 stocks and is rebalanced regularly.
Zacks Focus Growth StrategyFocuses on growth-orientated stocks, with 50 to 100 stocks chosen across many different sectors. The Russell 1000 Growth Index is used as a benchmark.
Zacks International Equity StrategyInvests in markets outside of the U.S., exposed to both developed nations and those with emerging markets.
Zacks All-Cap Core StrategyProvides risk-adjusted returns and benefits that mirror either the S&P 500 index or the Russell 3000 index.
Zacks Dividend StrategyMaximizes tax returns from dividends and capital appreciation.
Zacks Fixed-Income StrategyA portfolio manager handles this type of account using a combination of corporate and government bonds through fixed-income ETFs.
Zacks MLP StrategyInvests in Master Limited Partnerships through a combination of higher-than-average yields and appreciation potential. MLPs focus on energy-focused companies.
Zacks Energy StrategyThis strategy focuses on the energy sector that has positive risk/reward features.
Zacks Preferred Income StrategyConcentrates on a mix of traditional, trust, and third-party trust preferred securities that allow investors to yield and generate a high amount of income.
Zacks All-Cap Core FundInvests in capital appreciation and secondly through dividends income.
Zacks Small Cap Core FundLooks into investing 80% of assets into small capitalization companies focusing on U.S. issuers of equity securities.
Zacks Dividend FundFocuses on capital appreciation and tries to invest 80% of net assets in equity securities of U.S.-based dividend-paying companies.
Small-Cap Core StrategyInvests in equity securities of mostly small capitalization companies with a diversified growth portfolio.
Mid-Cap StrategyThe strategy for this one is capital appreciation by investing mostly in equities of medium market capitalization.
Zacks Premier Select StrategyThis strategy focuses on companies with positive earnings estimates.
Zacks Global Tactical StrategyStrategically invests in various asset classes and limit drawdowns in the majority of markets.
Zacks Small-Cap Value StrategyScreens stocks based on quality and valuation. Companies are ranked in each sector before being optimized and applied to a portfolio.
Zacks Small-Cap Growth StrategyFocuses on quality and sustainable earnings growth and portfolio managers qualitatively review before trading.
Zacks Advantage ProgramRobo-advisor that uses asset allocation and ETF selection parameters created to customize investment strategies for clients.

Fees Zacks Investment Management charges for its services

Zacks Investment Management earns money through asset-based fees, fixed fees and performance-based fees.

The asset-based fee rate you’ll pay depends on which strategy or fund you invest in, as well as how much money you are investing. How often you pay fees also varies by portfolio strategy, with some fees owed quarterly and others owed on a monthly basis.

Fees for the Retail Wealth Management Program: Clients in a Retail Wealth Management Program, the firm’s traditional wealth management account are charged according to the following fee schedule:

Retail Wealth Management Program Fee Schedule
Assets Under ManagementFee Rate
Up to $500,0001.80%
Between $500,000 and $1 million1.65%
Between $1,000,000 and $1.5 million1.50%
Between $1.5 million and $2 million1.45%
Between $2 million and $2.5 million1.35%
Between $2.5 million and $3 million1.30%
Between $3 million and $3.5 million1.25%
Between $3.5 million and $4 million1.20%
Between $4 million and $4.5 million1.15%
Between $4 million and $5 million1.10%
Between $5 million and $10 million1.05%
Over $10 million1.00%

In addition, these clients also may pay other fees. Accounts that are held by the investment management firm FOLIOfn Investments are subject to a number of additional fees, including:

  • An annual, fixed fee for clients who have accounts held at investment management firm FOLIOfn Investments. Fees are $0 for accounts of less than $20,000; $295 per account between $20,000 and $50,000; and $495 per account over $50,000.
  • A fee for any non-window trades, incurring of margin debt or execution of other specified transactions in FOLIOfn-held accounts.
  • A $50 annual fee for accounts held at FOLIOfn with more than 10 portfolios.

Outside of FOLIOfn-related fees, clients may also pay an account administrative fee if they use a Zacks Investment Management investment consultant. Clients with individual fixed-income securities, such as treasury, corporate and municipal bonds, may pay additional quarterly fees that are based on a percentage of assets under management and range from 0.25% to 0.65%.

Fees for other strategies: For other strategies available to individual investors, the asset-based fee schedules are as follows:

Global Tactical Strategy (Retail)
Assets Under ManagementFee Rate
Up to $500,0000.95%
Between $500,000 and $1 million0.90%
Between $1 million and $4 million0.80%
Over $4 million0.70%
Premier Select Strategy (Retail)
Assets Under ManagementFee Rate
All assets under management1.50%
Zacks Strategies Direct
Assets Under ManagementFee Rate
Up to $500,0000.99%
Between $500,000 and $1 million0.90%
Between $1 million and $2 million0.80%
Between $2 million and $5 million0.70%
Over $5 million0.60%
Zacks Advantage
Assets Under ManagementFee Rate
$5,000 to $99,9990.70%
$100,000 to $250,0000.50%
Over $250,0000.35%

The firm has separate fee schedules for institutional clients, with rates varying depending on which strategy is used.

Additional fees clients may pay: Clients may pay additional fees alongside the asset-based fee they are charged. This includes wrap fees for clients who are involved in wrap fee programs, which are arrangements in which a certain set of fees are offered under one bundled fee. The wrap fee is an annual fee that is charged quarterly based on a price negotiated by Zacks Investment Management and the wrap sponsor.

Additionally, qualified clients are charged performance-based fees that Zacks Investment Management says in its Form ADV are “either based on the total return or above the benchmark return measure against an index.” Clients will be able to negotiate their rate depending on the amount of assets being managed and how long the account has been open. Fees don’t exceed more than 20% of the total annual return of the account and are billed monthly.

Aside from the fees charged by the firm, clients may also incur trading costs and custodial fees.

Zacks Investment Management disciplinary disclosures

Zacks Investment Management doesn’t have any disciplinary disclosures within the last decade to report. All SEC-registered firms are required to report any actions against them, including any criminal, civil or regulatory actions. If a firm has any of these, it is listed on its Form ADV, which is publicly available through the SEC.

For more information on Zacks Investment Management, you can go to its IAPD page.

Zacks Investment Management onboarding process

If you’re interested in learning more about Zacks and how you can work with them, you can reach out in the following ways:

Each client account is reviewed on a quarterly basis to see if any life changes require a portfolio change. For instance, if you’ve lost your job or your salary has increased, your allocation might change.

Every time a transaction is confirmed, your broker-dealer will send you a notification of the transaction. You can also expect a monthly statement and quarterly performance reports.

Where Zacks Investment Management is located

Zacks only has one physical location, which is in Chicago. However, it is registered to work with clients across all 50 states, plus Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico.

Is Zacks Investment Management right for you?

Zacks Investment Management may be a good fit for those interested in taking advantage of the firm’s in-house research, comprehensive investment strategies and custom-built portfolios. However, they may pay more for wealth management than at other firms, especially if they don’t have a few million dollars in assets under management. Additionally, advisors in some cases can receive performance-based fees and other types of compensation through affiliate relationships, which could create potential conflicts of interest.

Before selecting a financial advisor, it’s important to consider your financial situation and to compare several different options. Be sure to take the time to research multiple firms to ensure you find the right advisor for you.

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.