Choosing a financial advisor in Pittsburgh can be challenging, given the number of possibilities in this reviving East Coast city. Finding the right advisor for you really comes down to understanding your financial needs and goals as well as how much you can spend.
With so many advisory companies in Pittsburgh, it may feel daunting to know where to start when comparing firms and data points. That’s why we’ve compiled this ranking of Pittsburgh’s top advisors to help make your research and decision-making process easier. To determine the best advisors in Steel City, we solely 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 won’t tell you which firm will be the right fit for you, but it hopefully can make it easier for you to figure that out. Read on for our list of the top firms in Pittsburgh and what you need to know about them:
How much would you like to invest?
Minimum assets required
|Fort Pitt Capital Group, LLC||$500,000||A percentage of AUM
|Fragasso Financial Advisors||$250,000||A percentage of AUM
|Guyasuta Investment Advisors, Incorporated||$1 million||A percentage of AUM
|Cookson Peirce Wealth Management||$1 million to work directly with the firm||A percentage of AUM|
|The Coury Firm||None, but $30,000 annual minimum fee||A percentage of AUM
|Henry H. Armstrong Associates, Inc.||$2 million||A percentage of AUM|
|Xpyria Investment Advisors, Inc.||$1 million||A percentage of AUM
|Hunter Associates LLC||None||A percentage of AUM
For our search, we looked at firms across the city of Pittsburgh. 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 Pittsburgh, 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 March 15, 2021, but we urge you to also evaluate these firms on https://adviserinfo.sec.gov/.
Fort Pitt Capital Group, LLC was formed in 2015 based on its predecessor company, which first opened its doors in 1995. Today, the firm is part of the Focus Financial Partners LLC partnership. Thus, it is primarily owned by the public company Focus Financial Partners, which also owns other registered investment advisors, brokers, insurers, pension consultants and financial service firms.
The team at Fort Pitt Capital Group offers financial planning and investment management to a wide swath of clients, including individuals and families who both are and are not considered high net worth (the SEC defines this threshold as having either $750,000 under management or a net worth of at least $1.5 million). The list of financial planning topics the advisors can address ranges from asset accumulation and estate planning to elder care and education costs.
The team also serves institutions including charitable organizations, businesses, insurance companies, local governments and pension and retirement plans. Based in Pittsburgh, the group has a second office in Harrisburg, Penn.
Fort Pitt Capital Group’s portfolio managers, led by the firm’s chief investment officer, are responsible for choosing investments for each client and overseeing the actively managed portfolios. To build client portfolios — which are tailored specifically to each client — the team utilizes equity securities, fixed income securities (taxable and tax-free), mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
The team relies on fundamental research to look for well-run businesses at what they believe are reasonable prices. They typically use large-cap securities, although depending on a client’s needs and for diversification purposes, smaller companies may also be included.
Fort Pitt Capital Group has a clean legal and disciplinary record, disclosing no marks over the past 10 years against the firm or its employees or affiliates that a potential client would find material when evaluating the firm or the integrity of its management team. This includes any civil, criminal or regulatory events. To learn more, view the firm’s IAPD page.
Fragasso Financial Advisors’ roots date back to 1972, when its eponymous founder Robert Fragasso began work as a sole practitioner. Over the years, the firm has changed names and ownership structures, most recently in 2016 to the current Fragasso Financial Advisors, Inc. Today, the firm is owned by Robert Fragasso and its employees.
Fragasso Financial Advisors offers investment management and financial planning services, which include business, long-term care and stock options planning as well as recommendations for employee retirement plans, among other topics. Typical clients include middle-income and wealthy investors and families, as well as institutions such as pension and retirement plans, charitable organizations, foundations, endowments, corporations and other businesses.
Along with its Pittsburgh headquarters, the team has additional Pittsburgh offices as well as other Pennsylvania locations in Wexford, Beaver and McMurray.
At Fragasso Financial Advisors, client accounts are typically invested by the portfolio management department toward one of five specific goals:
To identify appropriate investments, the department screens predominantly individual securities and no-load and load-waived mutual funds. Other potential investments may include ETFs, variable annuities, alternative investments and individual stocks and options. Investment selection is based on each client’s objectives, risk tolerance and tax sensitivity, among other factors.
Fragasso Financial Advisors typically works with clients on a discretionary basis, meaning clients give advisors permission to make trades in their accounts without first approving each transaction.
Fragasso Financial Advisors has a clean record, disclosing no legal or disciplinary events in the prior 10 years against the firm, an employee or an affiliate that a potential client would find material when assessing the firm and its leadership team’s integrity. To learn more about the firm, visit its IAPD page.
Originally founded in 1983 as Scheetz, Smith and Company, the firm changed its name about a decade later to its current brand, Guyasuta Investment Advisors. Today, the group is owned by seven of its investment professionals including chairman and CEO Henry Beukema III and president and COO Nancy Foster. The team works out of its single Pittsburgh office.
Guyasuta Investment Advisors focuses on providing investment management and financial planning for primarily high-income investors, although the firm does manage some accounts below its typical minimum investment requirement of $1 million. The team also serves institutions, such as endowments, retirement plans, governments, non-profits, corporations, foundations and pooled investment vehicles.
Guyasuta Investment Advisors typically invests client funds through separate accounts. To select investments, the firm’s portfolio management team typically starts by assessing the economy as a whole, and then moves to identifying individual companies in which to invest.
The firm believes in direct stock ownership, so clients are as close to their investments as possible, as well as to reduce their fees and increase control. Most client money is invested with an equity or fixed income strategy, or a combination of the two. In the equity portfolios, the team aims to own a diversified group of 25 to 40 high-quality companies with strong balance sheets that have sustainable revenue growth opportunities and generate a significant free cash flow yield.
Occasionally, the team will use mutual funds or ETFs for exposure to international and emerging markets. Advisors also may recommend securities with high dividend yields, including real estate investment trusts and master limited partnerships.
Guyasuta Investment Advisors discloses no disciplinary items over the prior 10 years that a potential client would find material when evaluating the firm and the integrity of its leadership team. As a registered investment advisory firm, the SEC requires the firm to report this information in its Form ADV paperwork. To learn more and to access the firm’s filings, view its IAPD page.
Cookson Peirce Wealth Management, founded in 1984, provides investment management and financial planning to individuals and families who both are and are not high net worth, as well as to institutions, such as endowments, foundations and pensions. The firm, which requires a minimum of $1 million for a direct relationship, also provides ancillary advice on financial, tax and retirement planning issues.
Separately, the firm also manages smaller accounts of clients working with professional advisors at other financial institutions, such as Raymond James or Morgan Stanley. These accounts are limited to stocks and ETFs, but give investors with more modest incomes access to the firm’s portfolio management services.
The firm is owned by its three principals, Bruce Miller, Daniel Henderson and Cory Krebs, as well as six minority owners who are all firm employees. Based in Pittsburgh, the firm has another office in Akron, Ohio.
Cookson Peirce Wealth Management typically invests clients’ funds in equities and fixed income.
The team’s four equity strategies include aggressive, growth, moderate and conservative, as well as an additional strategy using ETFs. To identify attractive equity opportunities, the team uses a technical analysis approach that zeroes in on a stock’s price movement in comparison to the market and its competitors, or an entire sector’s movement. The team favors companies or sectors with stronger price movements than the overall market. Cookson Peirce also typically will sell a stock if its price falls, which means clients may face higher trading costs and tax consequences than at firms that employ buy and hold strategies.
Fixed income portfolios are typically built using a standard ladder, meaning it purchases bonds with staggered maturities. The firm’s team relies on ratings from various ratings agencies when choosing investments.
Cookson Peirce Wealth Management has no disclosures to report. This means that neither the firm nor its employees or affiliates have faced any disciplinary events in the prior decade that would materially impact a potential client’s view of the firm or the integrity of its leaders. View the firm’s IAPD page to learn more.
The Coury Firm primarily works with individual investors and families, with an emphasis on those who are high net worth. Clients can turn to the firm for investment management and overall wealth planning, as well as family office-related services such as accounting, tax, philanthropy and other services.
The firm also serves investment partnerships, private foundation and retirement plans. Additionally, it has an asset management division that serves pooled investment vehicles. These affiliated funds may be recommended to some clients.
Legally known as Coury Firm Asset Management LLC, this Pittsburgh-based firm has one other office in Los Angeles. The firm is owned and managed by members of the Coury family, with its roots dating back to 1997.
The Coury Firm team comes up with an appropriate asset allocation for each client, using the firm’s proprietary models as well as technical analysis, which looks at historical market movements such as pricing and volume. Then, client money is invested with third-party managers and, when appropriate, the firm’s affiliated funds. The team uses various qualitative and quantitative research methods to evaluate third-party managers.
Typical investments can include equities, fixed income, hedge funds, private equity and venture funds, customized structured products and other types of alternative investments.
The Coury Firm has a clean record. The group discloses no legal or disciplinary marks over the last 10 years that a potential client would find material to their opinion of the firm or the integrity of its leadership. To view the firm’s SEC filings and learn more, visit its IAPD page.
Advisors at Henry H. Armstrong Associates, Inc. can provide clients with investment management, financial planning and wealth transfer services. The team primarily serves high net worth individuals and families, though it also works with some with more modest incomes. Rounding out the firm’s client list are institutions such as charitable organizations and pooled investment vehicles. The firm generally requires a minimum account size of $2 million.
In existence since 1983, the firm is now principally owned by President James McKay Armstrong. This Pittsburgh-based firm has a second office in New York City.
Henry H. Armstrong Associates’ investment approach focuses mainly on stocks of U.S. companies that the team deems to be strong and stable, with a particular emphasis on growth-oriented companies. Many of the companies have exposure to fast-growing international markets.
In limited circumstances, when requested by the client, the team will invest some of a client’s account in mutual funds or ETFs, typically to gain exposure to a specific sector. Clients looking for a steady income stream or a balanced portfolio are typically invested in short-term and intermediate U.S. Treasury securities or high-grade municipal bonds.
The team takes a long-term approach, with less than 10% of a portfolio turning over on average each year. This low turnover is intended to reduce transaction costs and taxes.
Henry H. Armstrong Associates discloses no legal or disciplinary actions against its firm or team members or affiliates in the previous 10 years. This includes any civil, criminal or regulatory events. To get more information, visit the firm’s IAPD page.
In business since 1990, Xpyria Investment Advisors, Inc. serves a mix of individual and institutional investors. Its client list includes individuals and families, both high net worth and not, as well as pension and profit-sharing plans, non-profits, corporations and other businesses, among others. Many of the firm’s clients have at least $1 million in investable assets, although no across the board minimum investment amount exists.
Advisors simultaneously provide these clients with investment management and financial planning services. The latter can include a written analysis addressing topics such as retirement planning, cash flow, education planning and investments held outside the firm. Advisors also offer divorce planning and wealth transfer planning.
The firm works out of its Pittsburgh office and is owned by members of its team including the firm’s four principals: John Cummings, Jr., Joseph Salpietro, Bret Stutzman and Michael Giammatteo.
The team at Xpyria Investment Advisors creates asset allocations tailored specifically to each client. The advisors then identify the most appropriate outside independent managers to execute that strategy, either through actively managed or indexed mutual funds, or separate accounts. To identify those managers, the team screens thousands of investments globally using both quantitative and qualitative factors, as well as conducting face-to-face interviews with over 100 independent managers a year.
The team typically oversees client portfolios using discretionary management, meaning clients give their advisors the authority to place trades in the account without first getting their approval. Occasionally, however, non-discretionary relationships are also offered.
Xpyria Investment Advisors has no legal or disciplinary blemishes to report. As a registered investment advisor, the firm is required by the SEC to report such information that potential clients would find material when assessing the firm and the integrity of its leadership team. The firm’s filings can be found on its IAPD page.
Hunter Associates LLC opened its doors in 1992. Today, the Pittsburgh-based team has an additional office in Salem, Ohio. The firm is owned by Hunter Associates Holdings, LLC, as well as Susan Hunter and Crock Hunter, the children of the firm’s late founder.
The group serves individuals and families who both are and are not considered high net worth. Advisors offer continuous investment management to these clients. Included in that investment management fee is financial planning, which may address topics such as retirement, estate planning, taxes, withdrawal plans and other future goals. Consulting on specific financial topics is also available.
Hunter Associates also works with institutions including pension and profit-sharing plans, charitable organizations, corporations and other businesses.
Advisors at Hunter Associates create an asset allocation strategy that is unique to each particular client’s needs. Client money can then be invested directly by the advisor, or through an outside manager.
Typical investments used in client portfolios include stocks, corporate debt, municipal and government securities, mutual funds, certificates of deposit, life insurance and annuities and options. Advisors purchase investments for both the long- and short-term. They also may use options, which allows them to buy or sell specific investments for a set price at a future point.
When researching investments, rather than focusing on market movements, the company relies on fundamental analysis. Thus, the team digs into various economic and financial factors impacting the company to determine its fair value, such as industry conditions, growth prospects, competition and the company management.
Hunter Associates has a clean legal and disciplinary record, disclosing no marks over the past 10 years against the firm, its employees or its affiliates that would materially impact a client’s view of the company or its leadership team. You learn more about Hunter Associates by viewing the firm’s IAPD page.
Pittsburgh is a mixed bag when it comes to taxes. Income tax rates in Pennsylvania rank on the lower end of the spectrum, with the top individual rate hovering around 3%. But Pittsburgh levies another 3% on top of the state rate, though typically less in the surrounding suburbs. Notable for retirees, there is no tax on most retirement income in the state.
Pennsylvania charges no estate tax, but it does levy an inheritance tax up to a maximum of 15% percent, depending on who receives the money.
Not all financial advisors specialize in retirement planning. Some advisors focus solely on managing a client’s portfolio, known as asset management. Others provide more holistic financial advice, examining a client’s overall financial life, including issues such as taxes, insurance and retirement.
If retirement planning is a priority for you, make sure to find an advisor to work with who is experienced in helping their clients determine their retirement needs and goals, and then creating a specific plan for meeting them.
Fee-only financial advisors are paid solely by the client. They do not accept income from any other sources, such as from investment companies or for making referrals to other professionals. This eliminates potential conflicts of interest that can arise from financial incentives, thus allowing clients to feel comfortable that an advisor is acting in their best interest and recommending what they believe are the best products, rather than what will financially benefit them.
To look for a financial advisor in your area, use the search tools offered on the websites of trusted associations and resources, such as the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) or letsmakeaplan.org. MagnifyMoney also offers a search tool.
Be sure that all potential advisors you consider offer the specific services you are looking for and work with clients with the amount of money you plan to invest. Here is a list of other key questions to ask to ensure you find an advisor who can meet your needs.
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.