Choosing a financial advisor in Georgia can feel daunting, given the large number of advisors in the area. Finding the right advisor for your unique financial situation requires understanding your needs and goals, as well as how much you can comfortably spend on an advisor’s services.
Comparing firms and data points may seem like an undertaking, so we compiled the most pertinent information with the hope of making the process easier. To identify the best advisors in Georgia, we only considered firms that manage individual accounts and offer financial planning. We then ranked these firms based on assets under management (AUM), which serves as a general metric for a firm’s size. Although not formally part of our ranking, we encourage readers to take note of each firm’s client-to-advisor ratio, as this indicates how much attention you may get as a client. All data used in our methodology is taken from each firm’s most recent Form ADV filing with the SEC so as to ensure the accuracy and reliability of our rankings.
Our ranking won’t tell you which firm may be best for you, but it can make it easier to compare your options. Keep reading for more information on the top firms in Georgia:
How much would you like to invest?
|Firm name||Headquarters location||Minimum Assets Required||Fee Structure|
|IRA Group, Inc.||Atlanta||$1 million||A percentage of AUM
|Homrich Berg||Atlanta||None, but minimum annual fee of $10,000||A percentage of AUM
|Clear Investment Research, LLC||Alpharetta||None||A percentage of AUM
|Iron Capital Advisors Inc.||Atlanta||No across-the-board minimum||A percentage of AUM
|Edge Capital Group, LLC||Atlanta||$5 million||A percentage of AUM
|Brightworth, LLC||Atlanta||$1 million||A percentage of AUM
|SignatureFD, LLC||Atlanta||$2 million||A percentage of AUM
|Capital Investment Advisors, LLC||Atlanta||Clients with less than $500,000 may be referred to an affiliated investment advisor||A percentage of AUM
Other (a percentage of plan assets)
|Capital Directions LLC||Atlanta||None, but minimum annual fee of $10,000||A percentage of AUM
|Balentine||Atlanta||Typically $5 million for actively managed portfolios||A percentage of AUM
For our search, we looked at firms across the state of Georgia. All of the firms considered are bound by fiduciary duty, registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and offer individual account management and financial planning services. Information used for our methodology criteria is taken directly from each firm’s most recent Form ADV filing and brochure, found on the IAPD database.
To localize our results for this list, we exclusively looked at firms that met the above criteria and had their headquarters in Georgia, as per the address provided in the Form ADV. Of those firms, we only considered those that offer financial planning services and portfolio management to individual investors. To be considered for this list, firms also could have no more than one disciplinary disclosure in the past 10 years. From there, the remaining firms that met all of the above stipulations were ranked in order of highest to lowest AUM, as this is an indication of a firm’s size and how many assets it has been entrusted to manage.
In our reviews, we have also listed several other key features that will help you determine which financial advisor may be most fitting for your investing style and financial needs. While our ranking system and methodology is designed to help you compare firms, it does not indicate which firm may be best for you. All information here is accurate as of February 22, 2021, but we urge you to also evaluate these firms on https://adviserinfo.sec.gov/.
This independent advisory firm, legally known as Investment Research & Advisory Group, was founded in 1992 by its owner Douglas Leeson. The group serves private investors as well as institutions, such as pension and profit-sharing plans and charitable organizations. Although the firm typically requires a minimum investment of $1 million, it does have some individual and family clients with more modest-sized investment accounts.
For these individual and family clients, the team provides investment management and financial planning. Advisors can address topics such as tax issues and estate planning in their financial planning services. They create a written analysis of each client’s current financial situation, often using a cash flow projection and net worth statement.
The group works from its Atlanta office.
IRA Group advisors believe that the performance of client investment accounts is primarily driven by asset allocation. Thus, advisors create an appropriate asset allocation for each client based on their specific goals and needs.
The firm’s approach to crafting portfolios uses strategic and tactical overweightings and underweightings of each asset class, based on economic conditions as well as the overall financial market. For the strategic portion, advisors take a core and satellite approach, meaning mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are used for the core investments and individual stocks and bonds are used when advisors believe there is a larger opportunity for outperformance.
Typical investment products used by the firm include publicly traded securities such as individual stocks and bonds, open-end mutual funds, ETFs, certificates of deposit (CDs) and options. Portfolios may also have exposure to real estate, alternatives and commodities.
IRA Group discloses one regulatory item, which the firm self-reported in March 2020. The incident stemmed from an administrative error that led three advisors to be mistakenly registered as “terminated.” IRA Group paid the state of Georgia $5,000 for the state’s time investigating the matter and made a donation of $5,000 to the Investor Protection Trust for investor education. No civil penalties were assessed.
Other than this one issue, IRA Group has a clean disciplinary record. For reference, the SEC requires registered investment advisory firms to disclose any legal or disciplinary actions against the firm or its employees in the prior 10 years that a potential client would find material when evaluating the firm or the integrity of its leadership team. Learn more by viewing the IRA Group’s disclosures on the firm’s IAPD page.
Primary owner Andrew Berg, with the help of a loan from his father, and co-founder David Homrich founded this independent firm in Atlanta in 1989. Today, the firm has grown to include two additional Atlanta offices, as well as a location in Alpharetta, Ga. Many of Homrich Berg’s employees are partial owners of the firm.
Homrich Berg offers wealth management and financial planning services, primarily to high net worth and some more modest income individuals and families, as well as some retirement plans, corporate entities, family offices and other institutions. Individual clients may turn to the group for financial planning to address such topics as retirement, income tax, estate, insurance, and cash flow planning, among others.
Private alternative investments, which the team at Homrich Berg has been investing in since the early 1990s, are a key piece of the firm’s investment approach. Advisors may recommend certain clients invest in affiliated or unaffiliated private investment funds. Thus, client money may be spread across more traditional asset classes such as mutual funds, ETFs, stocks and bonds, as well as alternatives such as hedge funds, private equity, real estate, debt and natural resources.
When analyzing potential investments, the team uses what is known as quantitative as well as qualitative research methods. Third-party managers are evaluated based on factors such as performance, risk, volatility and the liquidity of the underlying securities. The investment team is evaluated based on the experience and compensation structure of the key decision-makers, employee turnover and ownership structure, among other factors. The team also looks for repeatable investment processes that have remained consistent through the ups and downs of various market cycles.
Homrich Berg has a clean record. The firm discloses no disciplinary or legal items against the firm or its employees in the prior 10 years that a potential client would find material when evaluating the firm or the integrity of its leadership team. Visit the firm’s IAPD page to learn more.
Clear Investment Research, LLC caters to retirement plans, endowments and foundations, as well as a select number of individuals and families, both high net worth (defined by the SEC as those with at least $750,000 under management or a net worth of at least $1.5 million) and not. These individual investors turn to the firm to manage their portfolios and for help planning their financial lives. The firm also advises some employee participants of the retirement plans they work with.
Clear Investment Research was founded in 2014, and is based in Alpharetta. Joseph Jennings is the principal owner, and he also serves as the firm’s chief compliance officer.
Clear Investment Research tailors its recommendations to each client’s current finances, objectives and risk tolerance. The team typically does not attempt to time the market, and usually holds investments for longer than a year. However, depending on a client’s risk tolerance and the team’s view of the current financial market situation, advisors may modestly move some client money into cash.
When making investment recommendations, the team typically uses fundamental analysis, meaning advisors attempt to determine a stock’s intrinsic value by analyzing various aspects of the company, such as its financial condition, competitive advantage and management team as well as the overall economy and industry conditions. Clients facing certain situations, such as stock options, legacy holdings, inheritances, closely-held businesses or special tax situations, can request the team to modify its investment recommendations to accommodate their specific needs.
Clear Investment Research discloses no legal or disciplinary items against the firm or its employees or affiliates over the decade that would materially impact a client’s view of the firm or its leadership. View the firm’s IAPD page for more information.
Founded in 2003, Iron Capital Advisors Inc. caters to individual investors and families with less than $750,000 to invest as well as high net worth investors and pension and profit-sharing plans. The team provides asset management and comprehensive financial planning to its direct clients, as well as to some participants in the employer-sponsored retirement accounts the firm advises.
This Atlanta-based firm is owned by co-founder, managing director and chief investment officer Charles Osborne.
Iron Capital Advisors typically invests client money using the firm’s model allocation strategies created by the investment committee. Iron Capital Advisors offers four strategies, which can be independently used or blended together. These investment strategies include:
To protect the portfolio or a specific position from a loss, advisors may trade input options, buy certain ETFs or short securities. Advisors also factor in taxes when managing a client’s account, aiming to be as tax-efficient as possible. They also generally plan to hold investments for the long term.
Iron Capital Advisors discloses no civil, criminal or regulatory items against the firm or its employees or affiliates in the previous 10 years that would materially impact a client’s view of the firm or the integrity of its leadership team. For reference, the SEC requires that all registered investment advisors report such information in their Form ADV paperwork. View the firm’s IAPD page to learn more and access its Form ADV.
Edge Capital Group, LLC serves high and ultra-high net worth individuals and families who often use trusts and other complex structures to manage their wealth. The team, which typically requires an initial account value of at least $5 million, also serves foundations, endowments, corporations and qualified retirement plans.
Advisors at the firm provide clients with wealth management and financial planning services, addressing topics such as cash flow, retirement, charitable giving, taxes, insurance, estates and multigenerational family governance. In addition, the firm can serve as a chief investment officer for family offices, offering services such as consolidated reporting and education for younger generations.
Today, Edge Capital Group is part of the Focus Financial Partners LLC partnership, which also owns other investment advisors, broker-dealers, pension consultants, insurers and financial services firms. Focus Financial Partners LLC is two-thirds owned by Focus Financial Partners Inc, which is a publicly-traded company. Edge Capital Group’s predecessor firm, Edge Advisors LLC, was founded in 2006.
Based in Atlanta, Edge Capital Group has six additional offices: Dallas; Tampa, Fla.; Lexington, Ky.; Chapel Hill, N.C.; Nashville, Tenn. and Charlotte, N.C.
Advisors at Edge Capital Group tailor their recommendations to the individual client, based on their current finances, goals and objectives. Client money is generally invested across mutual funds, ETFs, external managers of separately managed accounts and private investment fund managers. To decide which third-party managers to use, external research firms help Edge Capital Group to conduct due diligence.
Typically, Edge Capital Group manages client money through discretionary relationships, meaning clients give their advisors permission to make trading decisions without first needing client approval.
Edge Capital Group has a clean record, meaning the firm discloses no legal or disciplinary actions against the company, its employees or its affiliates from within the past 10 years that a potential client would find material when evaluating the firm and its leadership. The firm’s IAPD page can provide more information on Edge Capital Group.
Brightworth, LLC serves a mix of clients, including high net worth individuals and families. Client investment accounts on average are much larger than its minimum account requirement of $1 million, though the firm does accept some more modest investment portfolios that it expects will grow over time. Brightworth also serves small business owners, charitable organizations and pension and profit-sharing plans.
Advisors at the firm manage clients’ investment accounts as well as offer financial planning. The topics addressed may include areas such as retirement, cash flow, insurance, education funding, business taxes and estates. The firm also holds seminars for small business owners on issues such as planning and exit strategies.
Brightworth was founded in 1997, then branded Polstra & Dardaman, LLC, when the firm’s initial four partners left the CPA industry to create this group. Based in Atlanta, the firm has now grown to include another division, branded McGill Advisors, which is based in Charlotte. McGill Advisors has separate account requirements and brochures, including a lower minimum required investment of $300,000. Brightworth is owned by its employees.
At Brightworth, client money is typically invested in model portfolios, which are then customized based on the specific goals and situation of the client. Factors taken into account include legacy positions with taxable gains, as well as the client’s risk tolerance.
Portfolios typically include U.S. and international stocks, intermediate maturity bonds, and alternatives and hybrids, such as real estate, hedge funds, commodities, oil and gas, master-limited partnerships and others. The vehicles used will vary, but may include mutual funds, ETFs, separate stock and bond accounts, private investments and others.
The third-party money managers used by the firm typically specialize in specific components of a portfolio. Advisors generally select multiple managers for each client account. The team also manages individual stock portfolios. To identify attractive companies, the team first looks for industries that it believes have “tailwinds,” or are poised for growth opportunities, then determines the best options within those industries.
Brightworth has no disclosures to report. This means that neither the firm nor its employees or affiliates have faced any criminal, civil or regulatory legal or disciplinary events in the prior 10 years that a potential client would find material in its evaluation of the firm or its leadership team. Learn more from the firm by visiting its IAPD page.
SignatureFD, LLC primarily serves high net worth investors as well as some with more modest-sized accounts, despite its general requirement for a minimum asset level of $2 million. The firm has programs specifically targeting women, lawyers, entrepreneurs, professional athletes, healthcare professionals and executives. SignatureFD’s main services are wealth management and, if requested, financial planning or consulting. Topics that clients can hire the firm to weigh in on include estate planning or insurance planning.
Founded in 1997, SignatureFD also can serve institutional investors including businesses and charitable organizations. Based in Atlanta, the team has an additional location in Charlotte. It is largely owned by its employees.
Advisors at SignatureFD manage client portfolios using both active and passive investments, including mutual funds, ETFs, individual stocks and bonds and private investments. Generally, the firm creates broadly diversified portfolios with strategic and tactical asset allocations. It aims to manage accounts in a tax-efficient manner and focuses on total return.
The firm uses third-party managers and, for certain clients, recommends the firm’s private equity fund or other private funds. On certain occasions, advisors may recommend short sales, options and margin transactions, where borrowed assets are used to make purchases.
SignatureFD reports no legal or disciplinary actions over the last decade that would be material to a client evaluating the firm and its management team. The SEC requires that all registered investment advisors disclose such information in their Form ADV. Learn more by viewing the firm’s filings provided on its IAPD page.
Capital Investment Advisors, LLC primarily caters to individual investors who are not high net worth, as well as some who are. The firm can also serve pension and profit-sharing plans, charitable organizations and businesses. Its bread and butter service is managing clients’ portfolios.
Based in Atlanta, the team has 10 additional offices and meeting locations, including a second Atlanta location as well as locations in Texas, Colorado, Washington, Arizona and New Mexico. The firm is principally owned by trusts owned or controlled by managing partners Mitchell Reiner, Matt Reiner and Wes Moss. Capital Investment Advisors was founded in 1996 by Mike Reiner, who currently serves as chairman of the board.
Capital Investment Advisors creates custom portfolios split into growth and income investments, with the appropriate allotment depending on the client’s income needs, risk tolerance and return expectations. Growth portfolios typically include ETFs and individual securities, while income portfolios will consist of bond mutual funds, bond ETFs, individual bonds and closed-end funds.
When appropriate, the firm may also use alternatives such as real estate investment trusts, limited partnerships and royalty trusts when appropriate. To diversify a portfolio’s strategy or manager’s style, the firm may recommend third-party managers for a portion of a client’s account in separately managed accounts or for options strategies.
To decide which investments to recommend, the firm typically uses fundamental analysis, which takes into consideration many factors such as products and services, earnings, management and sales to come up with an appropriate value for a company.
For clients that have more than $500,000 invested with the firm, the team may recommend investments in special purpose vehicles or private investments affiliated with the firm. Parties with less than $500,000 to invest will be referred to an affiliated registered investment advisor Wela Strategies, where client money is invested in models that are created using research from the Capital Investment Advisors team.
The firm discloses no legal or disciplinary actions. This means that neither Capital Investment Advisors nor its employees or affiliates have faced any actions in the prior 10 years that a client would find material when evaluating the firm and the integrity of its leadership. View the firm’s IAPD page to learn more.
Founded in 1985, Capital Directions LLC is an independent advisory firm, owned by its three principals and managing directors: Dennis Covington, N. Scott Pritchard, and Terry Hartigan. The team works out of its Atlanta office.
The firm offers wealth management and financial planning, as well as an automated investment program through Charles Schwab. Its clients include individual investors as well as some high net worth investors, defined by the SEC as those with more than $750,000 to invest or a net worth topping $1.5 million. The firm works with pension and profit-sharing plans, charitable organizations and other businesses as well, and it also provides portfolio, marketing and administrative services to CPA firms.
Typically advisors at Capital Directions do not recommend individual stocks or bonds for client portfolios, although exceptions exist. Instead, the firm prefers passive investing, opting for indexed and passive mutual funds, usually that represent specific asset classes. Advisors place particular attention to keeping client investment fees, expenses and taxes low.
When selecting mutual funds, the firm considers the fund’s expense ratio, portfolio turnover, investment objective and any restrictions on investments. Advisors generally recommend no-load funds from Dimensional Fund Advisors (typically only available to clients of registered advisory firms) or Vanguard that charge low fees, have low portfolio turnover and below-average capital gains distributions and that aim to invest primarily in a particular asset class. Recommended mutual funds and ETFs may provide clients exposure to stocks, bonds, derivatives and real estate investment trusts.
Capital Directions discloses no civil, criminal or regulatory items over the last 10 years that would materially impact a potential client’s view of the firm or its management, thus giving the firm a clean record. As a registered investment advisor, it is required by the SEC to report such information. Learn more by viewing the firm’s IAPD page.
This employee-owned firm works with a broad mix of clients. It serves many wealthy individuals and families and well as some with more modest investment accounts. The team at Balentine also works with non-profit organizations; pension, profit-sharing and other retirement plans or vehicles; government entities; other investment advisors and businesses. The minimum investment required for actively managed client assets is generally $5 million.
Balentine’s go-to services include portfolio management as well as financial planning. Advisors offer to meet with clients’ other financial professionals, such as attorneys, accountants and insurance agents, to get complete financial pictures for the clients. Balentine also offers family office services, such as consolidated reporting, bill pay and payroll services. The team frequently works with business owners and entrepreneurs.
In operation since 2010, the firm is based in Atlanta and has one additional office in Raleigh, N.C.
Balentine does not actively select stocks for client portfolios. Instead, it recommends outside managers or funds for a portion of each client portfolio. Advisors use both active and passive investment strategies.
To craft client portfolios, the firm uses what it dubs as building blocks, which each have different risk and return characteristics. The firm’s five building blocks are:
The firm decides what kind of investment returns it can expect from each of these building blocks over the next seven or so years, and then allocates a client’s portfolio accordingly. Advisors place particular emphasis on limiting downside risk through diversification and hedged strategies.
Balentine has a clean record, disclosing no criminal, civil or regulatory disciplinary items in the prior decade that would materially impact a potential client’s opinion of the firm or its leadership. Visit the firm’s IAPD page to get more information.
Look for a financial advisor who serves as a fiduciary, which means the professional is legally required to put the client’s best interest above their own. You’ll also need to verify the advisor works with clients with your size investment accounts, and doesn’t require a larger minimum investment. Finally, find out what specific services the advisors offer, and how they are paid. Generally, advisors that are paid only by the client — known as fee-only advisors — have fewer conflicts of interest than advisors also paid by investment firms for selling specific products.
Many advisors are willing to work with clients around the country, provided they are licensed to work in the state in which the client lives. That said, you may prefer to be able to drive to your advisor’s office and meet face to face. If that’s the case, search for a local advisor in your area. You can start using Magnify Money’s search tool, or the tool available on the National Association of Personal Financial Advisor’s website (NAPFA).
Georgia ranks in the middle of the pack when it comes to income taxes, with the state’s highest marginal individual tax rate at 5.75%. The state does not levy estate or inheritance taxes on its residents, although you may still owe federal estate taxes.
No. Some financial advisors focus more on managing your portfolio, known as asset management, than on helping you figure out how much you’ll need to save for retirement, or how much monthly income you’ll need in retirement to live comfortably. Be sure to specifically ask any potential advisors about how they help clients plan for retirement, and whether written plans will be included.
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.