Residents of this mid-Atlantic coastal state may find choosing a financial advisor in Maryland to be challenging. Given the large number of advisors in the area, it may feel as if there are as many advisors to choose from as crabs or Old Bay canisters. To find the proper fit, you first need to understand your unique financial needs and goals as well as how much you’re willing to spend.
Comparing firms and data points can be difficult, so we compiled the most important information to help guide your decision. To determine the best advisors in Maryland, we only considered firms that manage individual accounts and offer financial planning services. 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 is not indicative of which firm may be best for you, but hopefully it can help make your shopping experience easier. Take a look at our list below for the top firms in Maryland and their key highlights:
How much would you like to invest?
|Firm||Headquarters||Minimum assets required||Fee structure|
|Chevy Chase Trust Company||Bethesda||$3 million, and $35,000 minimum annual fee|| |
|1919 Investment Counsel, LLC||Baltimore||Varies by account type|| |
|Greenspring Advisors, LLC||Towson||None, but $5,000 minimum annual fee for wealth management, less for financial planning|| |
|WMS Partners, LLC||Towson||$3 million for investment management|| |
|Harbor Investment Advisory, LLC||Lutherville||$50,000|| |
|Heritage Investors Management Corp||Bethesda||$1 million|| |
|Verdence Capital Advisors, LLC||Hunt Valley||None, but $10,000 minimum annual fee for asset management|| |
|Grove Point Advisors, LLC||Rockville||Varies by account, but as little as none|| |
For our search, we looked at firms across the state of Maryland}. 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 Maryland, 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 June 29, 2021, but we urge you to also evaluate these firms on https://adviserinfo.sec.gov/.
Chevy Chase Trust Company caters to high net worth individuals and families, which the SEC defines as having at least $750,000 in assets to invest or a net worth of at least $1.5 million. Clients of the firm include business owners and professionals, including those who may have had an event that created vast wealth, such as the sale of a business or cashing out stock options. The team provides these clients with investment management, financial planning, family office services and trust services. The firm also works with institutions such as charitable organizations and businesses. A $3 million minimum relationship size is typically required.
Chevy Chase Trust Company is a private corporation that is part of Chevy Chase Trust Holdings, which was established in 1997. The team has one office in Bethesda, Md.
Chevy Chase Trust Company invests around themes, rather than typical categorizations such as value, growth or small, mid or large capitalization. The themes may include secular trends, disruptive ideas, innovations or economic forces that the team believes for one reason or another are poised to impact the world and thus the markets. As such, the team aims to build portfolios of companies that stand to gain from these themes, and avoid those that will be negatively impacted.
The client portfolios that Chevy Chase Trust Company builds around these themes may invest across many asset classes. Investment recommendations may include stocks, bonds, warrants, certificates of deposit (CDs), mutual funds, variable life insurance, annuities, options and interests in partnerships investing in real estate, among others.
Chevy Chase Trust Company has a clean record, disclosing no legal or disciplinary actions within the last decade. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requires all registered investment advisory firms to disclose on their Form ADV any disciplinary or legal actions, including criminal, civil or regulatory, against the firm or its supervised persons or affiliates that would be viewed as material by a client or potential client when evaluating the firm and the integrity of its leaders.
To learn more about the firm and to review its Form ADV, visit Chevy Chase Trust Company’s IAPD page.
1919 Investment Counsel, LLC has roots dating back to 1919 when one of its predecessor firms, Scudder Stevens & Clark, one of the oldest and largest independent advisory firms, was founded. Many mergers later, 1919 Investment Counsel is now an arm of the financial services company Stifel Financial Corp. Stifel acquired the unit from Legg Mason, Inc. in 2014, and then rebranded it from Legg Mason Investment Counsel, LLC. Based in Baltimore, the firm has currently eight additional offices, including in Philadelphia and New York.
The team at 1919 Investment Counsel works with a broad mix of clients, including wealthy and more modest-income individuals and families. Advisors offer these clients portfolio management and counsel, as well as financial planning and family office services. No across-the-board investment minimum is required to invest in mutual funds or access the firm’s portfolio management expertise through third-party firms. For clients wishing to work directly with an advisor and invest in the firm’s equity, balanced or fixed income strategies, a minimum investment of $2 million is typically required.
Rounding out the firm’s client list are many institutions, including pension and profit-sharing plans, businesses, charitable organizations and others. 1919 Investment Counsel also includes the Philadelphia-based Arthur Karafin Investment Advisors, which has its own products and fee schedules, which you can learn more about in its separate brochure.
Clients of other firms who invest in 1919 Investment Counsel strategies typically pick the strategy that is appropriate for their needs and unique factors. High net worth clients working directly with 1919 Investment Counsel are given customized accounts based on their own unique circumstances.
Portfolio managers generally focus on mid- and large-cap stocks and investment grade fixed-income securities. The firm offers more than a dozen investment strategies, including a socially responsive investment strategy and a disruptive innovation strategy.
Advisors may also invest client money in mutual funds, including affiliated funds, as well as exchange-traded funds (ETFs), private investments and others. Third-party managers who specialize in non-core asset classes may also be tapped.
1919 Investment Counsel reports no disciplinary or legal actions against the firm or its employees or affiliates in the prior decade that a potential client would deem significant when analyzing the firm or the integrity of its leadership team. To learn more, visit the firm’s IAPD page.
Greenspring Advisors, LLC opened its doors in 2004, after its founding partners grew dissatisfied working at large brokerage firms where they felt earning commissions took focus from serving clients. Today, this firm is majority owned by its seven partners, who are all employees. The team is based in Towson, Md., with an additional office in Paramus, New Jersey.
Greenspring Advisors manages clients’ portfolios as well as provides financial planning. The latter may address a single topic such as planning for retirement, taxes, estates, education and businesses, or include a comprehensive look at the client’s holistic situation and result in a written financial plan. The team serves a mix of clients including individuals and families who both are and are not considered high net worth, as well as institutions such as charitable organizations and businesses. The team also advises employers on their pensions and other retirement plans.
Initially, the team at Greenspring Advisors discusses with their clients their goals and other key considerations such as their time horizon, risk tolerance and cash needs. When making investment recommendations, rather than focus on stock picking, the team places emphasis on asset allocation, meaning developing the appropriate ratio of stocks, bonds and cash. The firm makes this determination based on the information clients provide about their goals and tolerance for risk.
To develop its opinions of various investment opportunities, Greenspring Advisors uses a variety of forms of analysis, including looking at fundamental factors such as the health of the company and the overall industry as well as mathematical models that examine the company’s quantitative data. Investment recommendations made by the firm typically include stocks, bonds, mutual funds, CDs, variable annuities, life insurance, options and interests in real estate partnerships. The team also may recommend third-party managers.
Greenspring Advisors discloses no legal or disciplinary actions against the firm, its team or its affiliates in the prior decade that would raise material questions in a client’s mind about the firm or the integrity of its leaders. To learn more, view the firm’s IAPD page.
In business as a registered investment advisor since 1993, WMS Partners, LLC is owned by eight individuals, with three co-founders serving as the majority shareholders. The team has its headquarters in Towson, Md., with a satellite office in Columbia, Md.
Clients can turn to the firm for help managing their portfolios as well as general financial planning and consulting on topics such as estate planning, tax planning and insurance. The firm also manages many affiliated private funds, although they are closed to new investors. Clients can invest in some unaffiliated private funds that the team also advises.
Typical clients of WMS Partners include individuals and families, with the majority being high net worth. The firm also works with a few dozen institutions such as businesses, pension and profit-sharing plans and charitable organizations. An aggregate annual asset level of at least $3 million is generally required to access the firm’s investment management services.
Rather than allocating a client’s portfolio based on investment type, the team at WMS Partners classifies investments according to their function in portfolios, such as wealth preservation, capital appreciation and flexible strategies. Portfolios are then tilted toward the themes the team believes offer the best opportunity.
The firm works through an open architecture approach, meaning it seeks out the best outside products suited to your needs, rather than selling proprietary mutual funds or products. It generally favors low-cost passive or index strategies unless there are active managers it is confident can outperform. In general, advisors at WMS Partners invest client money primarily among stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs and private investment funds. Some or all of a client’s assets may be invested with a third-party manager.
WMS Partners has a clean legal and disciplinary record, disclosing on its public forms no blemishes that would impact a client’s view of the firm or the integrity of its leaders. You can visit WMS Partners’ IAPD page if you’d like to learn more.
Registered as an investment advisor since 2010, this firm is owned by Harbor Investment Management, LLC. The team is made up of about a dozen different practice groups, and is based in Lutherville, Md.
Harbor Investment Advisory offers portfolio management as well as financial planning to a broad mix of clients. The client list includes more than 2,500 individuals and families, including business owners and corporate executives. Many of these retail investors are defined as high net worth by the SEC. Rounding out the firm’s client list are institutions such as pension and profit-sharing plans, charitable organizations and businesses. In general, the firm requires its clients to invest at least $50,000 in order to open and maintain an account.
Separately, the firm is also licensed as a broker-dealer, meaning its advisors can buy and sell securities for clients and earn a commission per transaction.
Advisors at Harbor Investment Advisory create an asset allocation based on each client’s objectives, time horizon, liquidity needs and risk tolerance. Clients have a range of account options available. You may select to have your financial advisor manage your money, or you can get advice from your manager and then execute that advice yourself if you are so inclined. Independent individual managers are available through separately managed accounts. Model portfolios of mutual funds or ETFs from outside managers are also available.
To make its recommendations, the team at Harbor Investment Advisory researches a myriad of potential investments ranging from individual securities to outside money managers, index funds and alternative investments. In the end, client money is generally invested in cash, stocks, mutual funds, ETFs, bonds and other securities, although other products may be used as well.
Harbor Investment Advisory discloses no legal or disciplinary events against the firm, its employees or its affiliates in the prior decade that clients would find significantly impacts their view of the firm and the integrity of its managers. That said, the individual financial professional you are considering may have a history. Be sure to check the potential advisor’s record at www.Investor.gov/CRS. The firm’s public disclosures are available on its IAPD page if you’d like to view them and learn more.
Founded in 1974, Heritage Investors Management Corporation is owned by its current president, Michael Cornfeld, and his family’s trusts. The team works out of its single office in Bethesda, Md. The firm focuses on investment management, although occasionally it will also offer standalone financial consulting services.
Heritage Investors Management Corp mainly works with high net worth individuals and families, although the firm does have some more modest-income clients. Also on the firm’s client list are institutions such as pension and profit-sharing plans, charitable organizations, businesses, endowments and others. The firm’s minimum account size required for new relationships is typically $1 million.
At Heritage Investors Management Corp., client money is invested based on each client’s risk level, tax situation, age and income and growth needs, among other factors. The firm’s main strategy is to buy and sell publicly traded U.S. stocks, bonds and ETFs. In some cases, the team may buy foreign stocks and bonds traded in the U.S. Unless directed otherwise, the firm does not buy mutual funds for clients.
The team at Heritage Investors Management Corp. almost exclusively uses long-term purchases, although it may infrequently buy and sell for the short term as well as engage in more sophisticated transactions such as short sales, derivatives and margin transactions.
Heritage Investors Management has no legal or disciplinary blemishes on its public disclosures involving either the firm or its employees or affiliates over the prior decade that would raise questions about the firm or the integrity of its leaders. To learn more, visit its IAPD page.
Leo J. Kelly III opened the doors to Verdence Capital Advisors, LLC, where he currently serves as the CEO and majority owner. Prior to founding Verdence Capital Advisors in 2017, Kelly notched many years in the financial services industry, working at HighTower Advisors, Merrill Lynch and Bloomberg. His team works out of its Hunt Valley, Md., headquarters, with an additional office in Alexandria, Va.
The team at Verdence Capital Advisors offers portfolio management as well as financial planning and consulting. It works with individuals and families who both are and are not high net worth. In particular, the firm specializes in working with elite athletes, entertainment professionals and business owners, offering them bread-and-butter services such as investment management and financial planning as well as more niche offerings particular to their unique situation and career. Such services may include budget and cash flow analysis, career path analysis, long-term financial planning, life skills, economic education, private investment screenings and philanthropic strategies.
Many business planning services are also available such as business strategy and succession planning. Family office solutions are also available for wealthy families.
Additionally, Verdence Capital Advisors works with institutions including businesses, pension and profit-sharing plans and charitable organizations. It provides investment consulting to broker-dealers as well.
Client money is Verdence Capital Advisors primarily invests client funds in mutual funds, stocks and bonds. When appropriate, client money is spread among independent investment managers and unaffiliated separately managed account programs. The firm emphasizes the importance of communication in maintaining a long-term investment strategy.
To identify their investment recommendations, the team at Verdence Capital Advisors mixes a variety of research methods, with a strong focus on fundamental research. This type of analysis looks at current and past data about the company and industry, among other factors, to estimate a future price. Cyclical and technical factors including patterns are also evaluated.
Verdence Capital Advisors has a clean legal and disciplinary record, disclosing no pertinent actions against the firm or its employees or affiliates in the prior decade that clients would feel affected their opinion of the firm or the integrity of its leaders. This includes any civil, criminal or regulatory actions. Learn more by viewing the firm’s IAPD page.
Grove Point Advisors, LLC was created in 2021 when its predecessor firm H. Beck, Inc., a dually registered broker-dealer and investment adviser, reorganized and transferred its registered investment advisory business to the newly formed group Grove Point Advisors. The broker-dealer business was rebranded as Grove Point Investments, LLC. Both Grove Point groups are owned by Kestra Financial, Inc., a financial services company. The former firm H. Beck, Inc., had been registered with the SEC as an investment advisor since 1999.
Grove Point Advisors works with a myriad of client types, including thousands of individuals and families who both are and are not high net worth. Also on the firm’s client list are many institutions including pension and profit-sharing plans, charitable organizations and businesses. The firm’s traditional offerings include portfolio management and financial planning, among others. Separately, most of the firm’s advisors are also registered representatives of brokers, meaning they can buy and sell securities and earn a commission.
Based in Rockville, Md., Grove Point Advisors has more than 225 offices across the country, including many in other Maryland cities.
Grove Point Advisors offers many different ways to work with the team. Clients may have their advisors create custom portfolios, based on their unique needs. Model portfolios and strategies, often including only mutual funds and ETFs, are also available. Clients also have access to many third-party managers to manage their portfolios.
Typical investment recommendations made by the firm include stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, among others. Third-party managers are also recommended. In general, Grove Point Advisors use long-term strategies to invest, though this could vary depending on a client’s unique needs and goals.
Grove Point Advisors discloses no legal or disciplinary actions in the prior decade that clients would find materially impacts their view of the firm or the integrity of its leaders. That being said, individual advisors at the firm may have a disciplinary history, which you can determine by visiting https://www.investor.gov/CRS. The firm’s public disclosures are available on its IAPD page if you want to learn more.
The best advisor for you may not be the one recommended by your family member or friend. To find a financial advisor who is a good fit for you, first search for an advisor who works with clients with the amount you plan to invest, since some advisors require minimum investments.
Next, make sure the advisor offers the specific services you are looking for, such as a written financial plan or a niche service such as estate planning or business succession planning. Be sure to check the disciplinary history of any potential firms as well as the potential individual advisor.
All SEC-registered investment advisors are required to abide by the fiduciary standard when working with clients, meaning they must put clients interests above their own when making recommendations. You can search for financial advisors in your area by using the SEC’s IAPD database and entering your ZIP code.
Professional organizations such as NAPFA also require their advisors to act as fiduciaries. You also can visit letsmakeaplan.org to search for a local certified financial planner (CFP), who is also required to act as a fiduciary.
When it comes to taxes levied, Maryland is on the higher end of the spectrum. The top individual income tax rate is 5.75%, yet many cities and counties also charge an additional income tax, which averages around 2.18%, according to The Tax Foundation.
As for estate and inheritance taxes, Maryland is the only state in the country to levy both. Estate taxes are paid on an estate before money is passed onto heirs. Maryland’s estate tax ranges from 0.80%-16%, with a $5 million exemption. On the flip side, if you inherit money, you will pay an inheritance tax based on the amount you individually are granted, ranging from 0% to 10%. Spouses and children, as well as other immediate family relationships, are exempt from this tax if they inherit. That said, no double taxation will take place. Whatever you owe in inheritance taxes is subtracted from the estate tax owed. If the inheritance tax is equal to the estate tax, no estate tax is due.
No. Some advisors focus more on simply managing your portfolio, known as asset management. Others take a more holistic approach to your financial life, offering guidance on other financial decisions and issues such as paying for college, estate planning or planning for retirement. They can help you run various retirement scenarios to make sure your savings are on track to fund your retirement, and adjust your plans if necessary. They can also help you create a safe withdrawal strategy to try to minimize the chance you run out of money.
If retirement planning is a priority for you, make sure to search for a financial advisor who offers this service and ask what specifically they can offer you to help you get ready for retirement.
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.