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America’s Finest City has a fine selection of financial advisors — but the number of options may make the process of choosing a financial advisor in San Diego feel overwhelming. To start, you’ll want to consider your financial needs and goals, as well as how much you can comfortably spend on financial advisor fees. From there, it’s time to start researching the available options.
In the hopes of making that process easier, we’ve compiled a list of San Diego’s top advisors with each company’s key data points. To determine the best financial advisors in San Diego, we only looked at firms that manage individual accounts and provide 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.
While you’ll have to make the final decision yourself on which advisor is truly right for you, this list can hopefully make it easier to narrow that down. Check out our list below for the top firms in San Diego:
How much would you like to invest?
|Firm name||Minimum assets required||Fee structure|
|Guided Choice Asset Management, Inc.||No minimum||A percentage of AUM
|Dowling & Yahnke, LLC||$1 million for retail investors||A percentage of AUM
|Pure Financial Advisors, Inc.||None, but a minimum annual fee of $3,000||A percentage of AUM
|HoyleCohen, LLC||$1 million||A percentage of AUM
|Dunham & Associates Investment Counsel, Inc.||Varies by program||A percentage of AUM
|Private Asset Management Inc||$100,000||A percentage of AUM
|Telos Capital Management, Inc.||$250,000||A percentage of AUM|
|Christopher Weil & Co Inc||None, but a minimum annual fee of $8,000||A percentage of AUM
For our search, we looked at firms across the city of San Diego. 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 San Diego, 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 January 4, 2021, but we urge you to also evaluate these firms on https://adviserinfo.sec.gov/.
GuidedChoice Asset Management, Inc. is a digital advisor that specializes in retirement planning. Clients of the firm are typically individual investors who have access to the firm’s services through employer-sponsored retirement accounts, such as 401(k) plans. You can also access the firm’s services directly through its website.
The firm’s services include investment recommendations for retirement accounts, as well as estimates for how much money clients will have in retirement that take into account Social Security benefits and other outside assets. Although technology is used to manage the account, clients have access to a free individual consultation with their experts, and can set up a call time with the firm to discuss their questions.
Founder Sherrie Grabot was early to the idea of providing financial advice digitally, and started the firm in 1999. Based in San Diego, the group is owned by GuidedChoice.com. The firm also serves institutions, such as financial firms and pension and profit-sharing plans.
Retirement plan participants generally have two options when it comes to working with GuidedChoice Asset Management: They can get investment recommendations from the firm and then execute those recommendations themselves if they wish, or they can hire GuidedChoice to manage their account through a discretionary relationship, where they do not approve each trade.
GuidedChoice Asset Management typically makes its investment recommendations based on proprietary analysis that factors in the individual’s unique situation, risk tolerance and investment expenses. The team also crunches many quantitative data sets analyzing economic factors as well as risks. The specific recommendations the firm provides will depend on the products available in the employer-sponsored retirement plan, but typically include mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), money market funds, public securities, real estate investment trusts and variable and fixed annuities, among others.
GuidedChoice Asset Management has a clean disciplinary record. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requires all registered investment advisors to disclose disciplinary actions against the firm or its employees from the last 10 years that would materially impact a client’s evaluation of the firm or the integrity of the management team. To learn more, view the firm’s Investment Adviser Public Disclosure (IAPD) page.
Mark Dowling and Dale Yahnke started their eponymous firm in 1991. Today, the firm has a single office in San Diego and is owned by eight of its key employees.
Dowling & Yahnke’s bread and butter services include investment management and financial planning for high net worth individuals, who the SEC defines as those with at least $750,000 under management or a net worth of at least $1.5 million. However, despite the firm’s typical minimum investment requirement of $1 million, it also serves some non-high net worth individuals. In particular, Dowling & Yahnke notes a focus on helping clients plan for life milestones and hardships, such as coming into sudden wealth, surviving a spouse or retiring.
The firm also has institutional clients, including charitable organizations, endowments, pension and profit-sharing plans and other businesses.
When creating client portfolios, advisors at Dowling & Yahnke aim for broad diversification, tax efficiency and low costs. Portfolios typically include a combination of mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and individual securities, with the exact allocation customized based on the client’s individual needs.
In certain circumstances, Dowling & Yahnke may recommend third-party independent managers. Clients typically give the firm discretionary control over their account, meaning Dowling & Yahnke can make investment choices and trades without needing client approval.
Dowling & Yahnke and its employees have no disciplinary marks over the last 10 years that would materially affect an individual’s view of the firm or the integrity of its management team; this includes any civil, criminal or regulatory events. To learn more about the firm, visit its IAPD page.
Pure Financial Advisors, Inc. was founded in 2007 by industry veteran and current owner Michael Fenison. Headquartered in San Diego, the firm has three additional California offices in Irvine, Brea and Woodland Hills.
The team provides portfolio management and pension consulting, as well as one-time or ongoing financial planning services on topics including cash flow, risk management and estate planning. Clients are typically individual investors both with and without high net worths, as well as a limited number of pension and profit-sharing plans and charitable organizations.
At Pure Financial Advisors, client money is typically invested in one of the firm’s numerous model portfolios. These portfolios are generally made up of a diversified global mix of mutual funds and ETFs, and range from 0% to 100% equity exposure. In addition to mutual funds and ETFs, portfolios may also include items such as government securities, corporate debt and municipal debt funds, options and oil and gas. Investment decisions are usually based on information gathered about each client in the financial planning process.
Advisors at the firm generally oversee client accounts through a discretionary relationship, meaning clients do not sign off each trade. Only fixed income portfolios are managed individually by an advisor, though the firm may also offer this option to accommodate existing clients.
Pure Financial Advisors discloses no legal or disciplinary events in the last 10 years that would be material to a client’s evaluation of the firm or integrity of the management team, thus giving the firm a clean record. You can learn more about the firm by visiting its IAPD page.
HoyleCohen, LLC is based in San Diego, but it has additional offices in California in Santa Monica and Sacramento, as well as a location in Phoenix. Clients of the firm can expect to find financial planning and investment management services. The firm’s client list includes individual investors, both with and without high net worths, though in 2020 the firm instituted a new minimum investment requirement of $1 million, limiting new accounts to higher net worth investors. HoyleCohen also works with certain institutional investors, including pension plans, profit-sharing plans, government entities and charitable organizations.
The firm was founded in 2001, and in 2006 it became part of the Focus Financial Partners, a partnership of independent wealth management firms. Thus, today the firm is owned by Focus Financial Partners, LLC, which also owns other advisors as well as broker-dealers, insurance companies, pension consultants and other financial firms. Focus Financial Partners, LLC is primarily owned by Focus Financial Partners, Inc., which has traded publicly on the NASDAQ since 2018.
The team at HoyleCohen has created what it calls the CorePlus platform, which is home to a wide variety of investments and strategies handpicked by an investment committee. Core investments and strategies typically include individual stocks and bonds, mutual funds and ETFs and represent the majority of a client’s portfolio. Meanwhile, the Plus strategies can be added to address each client’s unique goals, such as generating reliable income in a low-interest rate environment, achieving broader diversification, reducing taxes or investing in private opportunities.
To choose individual investments for the platform, the team uses fundamental analysis of the particular company’s balance sheet, income statement, earnings estimates and cash flow, in addition to other factors. Sometimes third-party managers also are used.
HoyleCohen discloses no legal or disciplinary events in the last decade that would materially impact a client’s evaluation of the firm or the integrity of the management team. The SEC requires all registered investment advisors to disclose such events in their Form ADV paperwork. To view the firm’s Form ADV and get more information, visit HoyleCohen’s IAPD page.
Dunham & Associates Investment Counsel, Inc. dates back to 1985, when it was founded in San Diego by Jeffrey Dunham, who principally owns the firm today through a holding company and serves as its CEO. The firm works with various financial planners who serve individual investors, both with and without high net worths, in addition to many types of institutions, including corporations and other businesses, pension and profit-sharing plans, charitable organizations and investment companies.
Individual investors can expect to find proprietary mutual funds as well as investment management and financial planning services. The firm is also a licensed broker-dealer, meaning it can place trades for clients and earn a commission. An affiliated trust company is based in Nevada.
Clients who have Dunham & Associates Investment Counsel’s standard wrap accounts are limited to the firm’s mutual funds and unaffiliated mutual funds, and they’re invested in up to six core asset allocation models that the team creates. Alternatively, the firm’s custom accounts are tailored to a particular client and can have as many core allocation models and Dunham mutual funds as the client desires.
High net worth clients also have the option of separately managed accounts. This option offers additional asset types, such as individual stocks, bonds and ETFs, alongside the firm’s mutual funds, which have strategies ranging from current income to total return.
Dunham & Associates Investment Counsel has a clean record. It discloses no disciplinary or legal actions against the company or its employees in the last 10 years that would affect a client’s evaluation of the firm or the management team. To learn more, view the firm’s IAPD page.
Based in San Diego with an additional office in Indian Wells, Calif., Private Asset Management, Inc. serves a wide variety of clients. Its client base includes both high net worth and non-high net worth individuals, pension and profit-sharing plans, charitable organizations, foundations and endowments and more. In general, the firm requires a minimum family total account value of $100,000.
Individual clients of the firm can find investment management and financial planning services. Extra services clients can tap include bill pay and tax return preparation, as well as private fiduciary trust services.
Founded in 1993, Private Asset Management is owned by the Stephen J. Cohen Trust. The firm’s management committee serves as the co-trustees.
In general, the team’s investing philosophy focuses on long-term growth and value, with low turnover. To select investments, Private Asset Management starts with a “top down” method, meaning they analyze numerous macroeconomic factors to form an economic outlook, then decide which type of investment will perform best in that environment.
Typical custom portfolios created by the firm include stocks, bonds, mutual funds, federal and state government debt, options and American depository receipts (holdings in foreign corporations). In some situations, the firm may use additional methods, including margin transactions, short sales and option writing, as well as buying and selling securities within a 30-day period.
Private Asset Management discloses no disciplinary or legal events against the firm or its employees or affiliates in the last 10 years that would be material to a client’s evaluation of the firm or the integrity of the management team. For reference, the SEC requires all registered investment advisors to report this information in their Form ADV paperwork. To learn more and to read the firm’s filings, visit its IAPD page.
With its main office in San Diego and an additional office in Westlake Village, Calif., Telos Capital Management’s clients include individual investors, both with and without high net worths, as well as a few pension and profit-sharing plans. It generally requires clients to have accounts of at least $250,000. The firm’s menu of services includes investment management and financial planning, with a particular focus on retirement planning.
Telos Capital Management has rebranded several times during its time in business. Its roots date back to 1986 when its first incarnation, Alexander & Muckermann, opened in San Diego. The firm’s name changed to A&M Investment Management in 2003, and in 2009, it was incorporated and began using its current name. Today, the firm is owned by three of its top-ranking employees.
Clients of Telos Capital Management can choose from a broad menu of strategies depending on their unique goals and circumstances. Typical investments used in client portfolios include U.S. and foreign stocks, fixed income, ETFs, municipal securities and money market funds. In certain circumstances, some more sophisticated products may be added to the mix, including mutual funds, convertible bonds, preferred securities, real estate investment trusts (REITs), mortgage-backed securities, master limited partnerships and others.
Advisors make trading decisions on clients’ behalfs, without first getting their express approval, which is known as a discretionary arrangement. To make its investment picks, the team at Telos Capital Management typically uses fundamental analysis to actively pick stocks, rounding out the research with some technical analysis of historical market data.
Neither Telos Capital Management nor its employees or has had any disciplinary actions over the last 10 years that would be material in the evaluation of the firm or the management team. This includes any civil, criminal or regulatory actions. To learn more about Telos Capital Management, visit its IAPD page.
Legally known as The Weil Company, the team at Christopher Weil & Co., Inc. works out of a single office in San Diego. Its clients include a mix of individual and institutional investors, including individuals who both are and are not high net worth, charitable organizations, pension and profit-sharing plans, businesses and others.
The firm’s primary services include portfolio management and advice, as well as financial planning, addressing topics such as taxes, cash flow, insurance, retirement and estate planning. The firm also manages a mutual fund that it may recommend to clients, th Christopher Weil & Company Core Investment Fund (CWCFX).
Christopher Weil & Co. began conducting business in 1997, although its roots date back years earlier. Today, the principal owners of the firm are Matthew Weil, Kit-Victoria (Weil) Wells and Caitlin Weil, who all work at the firm.
Clients of Christopher Weil & Co. typically have the choice of how to handle their investments. They can put their money in model portfolios, where the advisors make the buying and selling decisions on their behalf, while their other option is to have their advisors provide custom investment recommendations specifically tailored to their needs.
Specific investment recommendations may include stocks and bonds, mutual funds, CDs, warrants, options contracts, variable annuities and life insurance, as well as interests in real estate or venture capital investments. The firm employs a broad menu of investment strategies including short sales, margin transactions, option writing and sometimes buying and selling within less than 30 days.
Christopher Weil & Co. discloses no legal or disciplinary issues in the previous 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.
The Golden State has a reputation for high taxes. The top income tax rate in the state is 13.30%, for single filers with incomes greater than $1 million. That said, Californians do not face state estate or inheritance taxes, although federal estate taxes still apply on very large estates.
Anytime you work with a fee-only financial advisor, you know the firm is not recommending a particular investment or product to receive a commission or reimbursement, thus removing a potential conflict of interest. This is because fee-only advisors solely earn money through their fees clients pay, rather than through additional sources. To learn more about fee-only financial advisors, how they differ from competitors and common industry fees, read this article.
While many firms regularly work with individuals who are saving for retirement, not every advisor specializes in this area. It’s your job to ask potential advisors key questions to learn more about their qualifications and experience to ensure you end up working with an advisor who can meet your unique needs.
A financial advisor who is a fiduciary is legally required to act in the client’s best interest, and to put the client’s interest above the advisor’s interest. You may be surprised to learn not all financial advisors are fiduciaries. That said, all advisors registered with the SEC, known as registered investment advisors or RIAs, are bound by the fiduciary duty. You can look up advisors’ relationship summaries using the SEC search tool, which will specify if the advisors are RIAs. Professional organizations, such as the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA), also require advisers to serve as fiduciaries, so you can use their database as a resource to find a financial advisor.
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.