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Choosing a financial advisor can feel like a daunting task, given the large number of financial professionals in Minnesota. Finding the right advisor is a lot about figuring out the proper fit. In order to be successful, you must first determine your 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 pertinent information to help guide your decision. To determine the best advisors in this Land of 10,000 Lakes, 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 it can help make the shopping experience easier. Take a look at our list below for the top firms in Minnesota and their key highlights:
How much would you like to invest?
|Firm||City||Minimum assets required||Fee structure|
|Advanced Capital Group||Minneapolis||$5,000||A percentage of AUM
|Wealth Enhancement Advisory Services||Plymouth||Generally $25,000 for investment management; none for financial planning or consulting||A percentage of AUM
Other (fees from third-party investment advisors)
|Mairs & Power||St. Paul||$2 million for an individually managed account; $1,000 to $2,500 for mutual funds||A percentage of AUM
Fixed fees Performance-based fees
|Riverbridge||Minneapolis||$1 million||A percentage of AUM
Fixed fees Performance-based fees
|CliftonLarsonAllen Wealth Advisors||Minneapolis||None||A percentage of AUM
Hourly charges Fixed fees
|Meristem Family Wealth||Minnetonka||None, but minimum annual fee of $30,000||A percentage of AUM
|Focus Financial||Minneapolis||No across-the-board minimum||A percentage of AUM
Fixed fees, Hourly charges
Other (a percentage of AUM with third-party managers)
|Accredited Investors Wealth Management||Edina||None, but minimum annual fee of $20,000||A percentage of AUM
|Carlson Capital Management||Northfield||$250,000||A percentage of AUM
|Envoi||Minneapolis||$25 million||A percentage of AUM|
For our search, we looked at firms across the state of Minnesota. 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 Minnesota, 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 1, 2021, but we urge you to also evaluate these firms on https://adviserinfo.sec.gov/.
This independent firm advises many employer-sponsored retirement and pension plans. Through those relationships, the firm also helps some employees with financial education and planning. Separately, the firm establishes direct relationships with many middle-income and wealthy individuals, as well as families looking for investment management and financial planning.
Based in Minneapolis, Advanced Capital Group was founded in 1998, and is owned by three of its principals and team members. Rounding out the firm’s client list are other institutions such as foundations, endowments, corporations, banks and insurers.
Clients mostly fall into two buckets: those looking for a comprehensive portfolio, or those seeking a fixed-income portfolio as one component of their overall portfolio. To build custom portfolios for their clients, advisors can use an automated investment management platform from Charles Schwab & Co. The firm offers strategies across the risk spectrum from conservative to aggressive, and can choose the asset classes and weightings in each portfolio.
Client money is typically invested in one or a combination of three investments: exchange- traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds and individual municipal bonds. The firm will not recommend individual stocks, real estate, commodities, futures, option contracts or private investments.
To decide which managers to utilize, the team uses a proprietary tool that allows them to analyze managers over many unique rolling time periods, rather than just one static period.
Advanced Capital Group has a clean disciplinary record. The SEC requires all registered investment advisory firms to disclose legal and disciplinary actions against the firm or its employees in the last 10 years that a client would find material when evaluating the firm or the integrity of its management team. Learn more by viewing the firm’s IAPD page.
Wealth Enhancement Advisory Services caters to thousands of middle-income and high-net-worth individual investors. The team provides clients with investment management and financial planning services and consulting, including recommendations to third-party money managers. Specialized advisors are available to weigh in on everything from retirement, estate, insurance, college, tax and business planning. Finally, the firm offers tax preparation, consulting for business owners and family office services for wealthy families.
Based in Plymouth, Minn., the group has 39 additional offices throughout the East and Midwest, including its 11 home state offices. The firm’s advisors have been doling out financial advice since 2001. The group is a subsidiary of Wealth Enhancement Group, which in 2019 became majority-owned by private investment vehicles affiliated with TA Associates Management, another registered investment advisor.
The firm also serves pension, profit-sharing plans and other institutional investors.
Clients can choose from a broad menu of investment strategies and options. There are model portfolios of actively managed and passive mutual funds and ETFs, which clients can customize if they desire. Managed ETF programs will track their respective indices and markets. Model portfolios or custom accounts can add in individual securities, municipal securities, separately managed accounts, alternative investments, real estate investment trusts (REITS), structured products, options and more. Advisors may also recommend variable annuities.
The firm prefers low-cost passive strategies, but adds actively managed strategies when advisors believe there is a strong opportunity. Advisors also use quantitative managers.
When choosing investments to recommend, advisors diversify across assets and by risk classes, such as company risk, interest rate risk, purchase power risk and manager skill risk. One reason the firm prefers allocating across risk classes is because they have more predictable long-term, expected returns, although they can vary more widely in the mid 3- to 7-year time frame.
The firm typically works with clients through discretionary relationships, meaning clients do not sign off on each trade before they’re placed. Non-discretionary relationships may be granted in certain situations. Many advisors are also separately licensed as broker dealers through LPL Financial, meaning they can trade securities and be paid per transaction.
Wealth Enhancement Advisory Services discloses no legal or disciplinary actions against the firm or its employees in the prior 10 years. Learn more by viewing the firm’s IAPD page.
Mairs & Power has a long history, with roots dating back to its 1931 founding in the midst of the Great Depression. Today this employee-owned firm has a large mix of clients. In particular it caters to high-net-worth individuals and families, offering investment management and financial planning. The group also serves some more modest-income investors, as well as pension and profit-sharing plans, charitable organizations, insurance and investment companies, businesses and other institutions.
From its St. Paul, Minnesota, office, the team also manages three Mairs & Power mutual funds — growth, balanced and small-cap, which consist primarily of stocks, bonds and cash.
The team typically manages individual accounts using the firm’s investment strategies. Their multi-cap strategy offers a diversified portfolio of stocks, with an emphasis on small to medium companies as well as companies headquartered in Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota that they have been following for many years. The balanced strategy consists of about 60% in stock and 40% in mixed income, and selects stocks in a similar manner, but with more focus on dividend-paying stocks. For certain clients, advisors may build a custom portfolio with one of the firm’s strategies at its core.
For clients with smaller investment accounts, advisors invest client money through one or a combination of the three mutual funds managed by the firm. For new clients, advisors work through discretionary relationships, meaning clients do not give prior approval for each transaction in their account.
Mairs & Power has no legal or disciplinary disclosures in the past 10 years that would materially impact a client’s view of the firm or its management team. View the firm’s IAPD page to learn more.
Legally known as Riverbridge Partners LLC, this firm has a diverse array of clients: institutions, investment companies, corporations, pension and profit-sharing plans, pooled investment vehicles, advisors and other institutions, as well as high net worth individuals. For those wealthy individuals and families, advisors provide investment management and financial consulting and planning, including tax, estate, insurance and retirement planning. The team also advises two Riverbridge Mutual Funds.
Founded in 1987, the group is based in Minneapolis. Riverbridge is 42% employee-owned by its four principals. The remaining majority interest belongs to Northill Capital Group, which provides equity capital to asset management firms. Entities associated with Ernesto and Donata Bertarelli of Switzerland ultimately own Northill.
Client portfolios are aligned to a model portfolio. The firm offers eight strategies. Depending on the client’s needs, advisors can provide a specific investment strategy to add to a client’s existing portfolio, or can manage a client’s entire portfolio, creating a diversified equity and fixed-income portfolio.
In general, the firm prefers companies building their earnings power and the intrinsic value of the company over the long term. The investment team looks for companies of any size, including small- and mid-cap firms that fit these five evaluation metrics: strong management and culture, strong unit growth, a strategic market position, internally financed growth and conservative accounting.
Riverbridge discloses no legal or disciplinary actions against the firm or its employees over the past 10 years that would be material to a client evaluating the firm or the integrity of its leadership team. View the firm’s disclosures on its IAPD page to learn more.
CliftonLarsonAllen Wealth Advisors serves a broad mix of clients. Advisors provide high net worth and middle-income investors with investment management and financial planning, including retirement, estate, education, divorce and business succession planning. They also hold financial education and seminar events for certain wealthy clients. Additional niche services for individuals include tax planning and compliance, stock planning, residency planning, family office services and employer-sponsored benefit plan design and consulting.
The firm has been a registered investment advisor since 2000. Based in Minneapolis, the team has 26 additional offices scattered across the country. The group is a subsidiary of CliftonLarsonAllen LLP, a firm that provides services such as audit, consulting, outsourcing and tax planning. Prior to 2012, the group was known as LarsonAllen Financial, LLC, which merged with Clifton Gunderson Wealth Advisors, LLC, in 2012 when the two groups’ parent companies merged.
The firm’s client list also includes pension and profit-sharing plans, banks, charitable organizations, businesses and others.
Rather than focus on selecting particular stocks, advisors generally manage accounts using model portfolios of mutual funds and ETFs. The team as well as third-party investment firms construct and manage these model portfolios. The firm’s own portfolios use both actively managed and passive investments, as well as some individual securities. In certain cases, advisors may recommend separately managed accounts, limited partnerships, asset-backed securities and private placements, and private real estate investment trusts.
Third-party firms provide a wide variety of strategies, such as risk-based portfolios, those targeting a specific date, such as 2025 or 2035, or passive ETF model portfolios. The firm is also registered as a broker-dealer, meaning advisors can place trades and be paid per transaction.
CliftonLarsonAllen Wealth Advisors has a clean record. The firm discloses no legal or disciplinary events over the prior 10 years that potential clients would find material when evaluating the firm or the integrity of its management. View the firm’s public filings on its IAPD page.
Meristem Family Wealth is based in Minnetonka, with three additional offices in Naples, Fla.; Scottsdale, Ariz. and Sioux Falls, S.D. Founded in 2003, the team caters to roughly 185 wealthy families. The firm’s primary service is investment management. Clients can also turn to the firm for financial planning advice, such as wealth forecasting, budgeting and cash-flow management, family business planning and succession, as well as tax, legacy, charitable and insurance planning.
This independent firm is majority-owned by a group of partners including CEO Charles Maxwell Jr., COO Jon Crow, CIO Patrick Regan and Chief Compliance Officer Andrew Ohman. A minority interest is held by PC3 Ventures, a group held by Michael Benson, CEO of wealth preservation consultancy Benson Blackburn. The team also serves institutions like charitable organizations and businesses, as well as pooled investment vehicles.
When providing investment advice to clients, advisors take into account the client’s entire financial situation, including assets not managed by Meristem, liquidity needs, goals and risk tolerance. Advisors first create an ideal asset allocation, then recommend money managers or passive strategies for each asset class. When researching managers, the team watches for numerous characteristics, including changes to investment teams, asset sizes and trends, style consistency, and performance and risk trends compared with expectations.
Advisors also may recommend the firms’ private investment pools, which aggregate client money to give investors access to managers they otherwise couldn’t and the ability to pay lower manager fees.
Meristem Family Wealth has no legal or disciplinary actions against the firm or its employees in the past 10 years. Visit the firm’s IAPD page to learn more.
Based in Minneapolis, this large advisory network is made up of more than 45 independent advisory offices across several states that contract with Focus Financial to provide advisory services. These advisors provide investment management and financial planning, including retirement and education planning. They also recommend third-party investment managers. Employees invested in their company retirement plans can get investment recommendations from the advisors.
Clients generally are middle-income and high net worth investors. Rounding out the client list are businesses, pension and profit sharing plans, and charitable organizations.
Founded in 1993, the network is owned by several individuals, none of whom own more than 20%.
A broad array of options may be available to clients, depending on the advisor and the client goals. In the Advisor Managed Portfolios Program, advisors use planning software to create an appropriate asset allocation for clients. Clients can invest in multiple investment strategies and asset classes through a unified managed account, or through other third-party managers and their platforms. Model portfolios are available with mutual funds and ETFs from managers, such as BlackRock and Vanguard.
Investment philosophies can differ between advisors, but advisors generally use mostly open-ended mutual funds, no-load and load-waived mutual funds, ETFs and variable products. That said, managed accounts can include stocks and bonds.
Focus Financial discloses no legal or disciplinary issues over the prior 10 years that would materially impact a potential client’s opinion of the firm. Visit the firm’s IAPD page for more information.
This firm caters to many wealthy clients as well as some with more modest incomes, offering investment management and financial planning services that include estate planning, debt management, asset protection, insurance and income management. The team also serves pension and profit-sharing plans, charitable organizations and other institutional investors.
Accredited Investors Wealth Management is an independent firm, owned solely by its employees, including CEO and co-founder Ross Levin and President and co-founder Wil Heupel. The firm was founded in 1987 and operates from its Edina location.
The team customizes their recommendations to each client, based on the client’s objectives, time horizon, risk tolerance, legacy goals and liquidity needs. The bulk of client money is invested in passive and active mutual funds and ETFs. When deciding which products to recommend, the team considers a myriad of factors ranging from expenses and performance history to compensation practices and style biases. The team only buys mutual funds without sales charges.
Individual stocks and bonds as well as private investments, annuities and certificates of deposit may also be used. The team may recommend third-party advisors for a portion of a client’s account.
Accredited Investors Wealth Management has a clean record, disclosing no legal or disciplinary items in the previous 10 years that a client would find material when evaluating the firm and its leadership team. To learn more about the firm, visit its IAPD page.
A broad mix of clients work with Carlson Capital Management, including wealthy and more modest-income individuals and families. They turn to the firm for investment management and financial planning needs including retirement, estate, tax, insurance, education and philanthropic planning, as well as stock option analysis. Other clients include pension and profit-sharing plans, charitable organizations, corporations and other businesses.
With roots dating back to 1987, the firm restructured in 2015 and today is principally owned by Carlson Capital Management, which in turn is primarily owned by CEO and founder Gregory Carlson, founder Jefrey Carlson and President Justin Stets. The firm has additional Minnesota locations in Rochester, Bloomington, Hastings and Coon Rapids.
For clients with at least $1 million to invest, the team has created investment portfolios covering the risk spectrum, with goals ranging from principal preservation to aggressive growth. Those portfolios are then customized for each client, taking into consideration the client’s current situation, goals and objectives, as well as the current market and economy. The team’s managed portfolios use open-ended mutual funds, ETFs and closed-end interval funds. As necessary, fixed-income securities may be used. Clients may also request individual stocks be used for tax purposes.
Clients need only $250,000 to access the firm’s Carlson Portfolios, which use the same portfolio management team that creates the custom recommendations for the firm’s wealthier clients.
Carlson Capital Management discloses no legal or disciplinary 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. View the firm’s IAPD page to learn more.
Envoi serves a select number of ultrahigh net worth families and their related entities, as well as charitable organizations. In particular the firm focuses on multigenerational families, assisting them with all aspects of their finances, including wealth transfer planning and educating the younger generations. The list of services is comprehensive and includes typical financial planning and investment management, as well as cash-flow budgeting, expense management, income and estate planning, management of client charitable organizations, and coordinating information between attorneys, accountants, insurance advisors and others.
Founded in 2009, the firm is owned by its three founders and principals: Brenda Sallstrom, James Sand and Ryan Steensland. The group is based in Minneapolis and has an additional location in Chicago.
Envoi customizes its advice and recommendations specifically for each family. The team starts by creating a balance sheet and cash-flow statement for each family, which helps clarify the family’s financial needs and goals. Those two documents then drive the investment recommendations. After developing an asset allocation strategy, the team identifies subadvisors to execute the recommendations. Those subadvisors manage the investments and make trading decisions.
Client money may be invested in traditional fixed-income, equity separate account managers, mutual funds, ETFs, master limited partnerships and alternative investments, among others.
Envoi has no legal or disciplinary disclosures over the prior 10 years that would materially impact a client’s view of the firm or its leadership personnel. View the firm’s IAPD page for more information.
No. Some professionals focus more on managing and growing your portfolio, rather than helping you work through retirement questions, such as how much total savings you’ll need, how much annual income, including Social Security, you can expect, and other considerations. To make sure potential advisors can assist with retirement planning, be sure to inquire what specific services they’ll provide on top of managing your investment account.
Minnesota ranks on the higher end of the spectrum for income taxes. The top individual income tax rate is 9.85%. Minnesota is one of a dozen or so states that levies an estate tax, which ranges from 13%-16% on estates larger than $3 million. The state does not charge an inheritance tax, however.
To start, look for financial advisors who serve as fiduciaries, meaning they are legally required to act in your best interest, putting it ahead of their own. Also make sure potential advisors work with clients who don’t require larger investment minimums or fees than you can afford. Finally, find out how and how much the advisor is paid, and confirm the advisor offers the services you want, such as retirement or education planning. Here is a list of key questions to ask potential advisors.
To call themselves a financial advisor, professionals can earn numerous certifications and licenses. Some reputable industry designations that many planners acquire are the registered investment advisor (RIA), certified financial analyst (CFA) or certified financial planner (CFP). These designations indicate the professional meets certain requirements and is licensed in the state of Minnesota. For example, to become a CFP, professionals must have a bachelor’s degree, undergo financial planning coursework, complete 6,000 hours of financial planning experience and pass an exam.
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.