Whether it’s uncertainty in the market or an upcoming life event like having your first child or getting ready to retire, you may have thought to yourself that it’s time to find a financial advisor. Whether this has been on your to-do list for a long time, or you’re coming to this realization now, don’t let what can feel like a daunting search process to find the right planner stop you from getting your financial house in order.
You can make your search less overwhelming by focusing on a few key personal factors, such as your needs and your budget. After all, the best financial advisor is not the same for everyone — it’s the one who is a proper fit for you.
To jumpstart your search regardless, we have compiled some of the most pertinent information on the best advisors in the U.S. for you here. To determine the top financial advisors nationwide, we looked at SEC-registered firms that manage individual accounts and offer financial planning services. We then ranked these advisory groups based on assets under management (AUM), which acts as a general metric for the firm’s size.
Using this list as a guide, you can narrow your list further by asking potential firms questions important to you, such as what types of clients account for the bulk of their business, or if the advisors spend most of their time on retail or institutional investors. While our ranking can’t tell you which firm is best for you, the data it offers can make the shopping experience easier. Read on for our list below of the top firms in the United States and their key highlights:
How much would you like to invest?
|Firm name||Headquarters||Minimum assets required||Fee structure|
|Captrust||Raleigh, N.C.||$50,000||A percentage of AUM
|Cambridge Associates, LLC||Boston||Typically $100 million||A percentage of AUM
Other (a percentage of assets invested)
|Fisher Investments||Camas, Wash.||$500,000||A percentage of AUM
|Global Retirement Partners, LLC||San Rafael, Calif.||None||A percentage of AUM
|Hightower Advisors, LLC||Chicago||None||A percentage of AUM
Other (including retainer, service or other fees)
|NFP Retirement Inc.||Aliso Viejo, Calif.||$25,000||A percentage of AUM
|Fort Washington Investment Advisors Inc||Cincinnati||$500,000||A percentage of AUM
|Advised Assets Group, LLC||Greenwood Village, Colo.||Not specified||A percentage of AUM
|Hall Capital Partners, LLC||San Francisco||None, but $300,000 to $400,000 minimum annual fee||A percentage of AUM
|Chevy Chase Trust Company||Bethesda, Md.||$3 million, although exceptions exist||A percentage of AUM
While we listed the firm’s headquarters above, most of the firms have numerous offices around the country. If you’d like to be able to work with a financial advisor in person, check the firm’s website to learn if there’s a local office near you. If an in-person relationship is not critical, many firms serve clients outside the cities where they have offices, giving you the opportunity to choose the advisory firm that is most suited to your needs, rather than whichever firm is closest to you.
For our search, we looked at firms across the United States. 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.
The firms that met this criteria were ranked based on their AUM. Firms with a higher AUM and garnered higher scores. Our ranking system is designed to help compare firms but does not indicate which firm may be best for you.
In our reviews, we’ve listed several other key features that will help you determine which financial advisor is most fitting for your investing style and financial needs. It is important to note that we did not include disciplinary disclosures as a metric for our ranking, though we did consider it when evaluating firms. We have listed any disciplinary disclosures current as of June 10, 2021, but urge you to also evaluate these firms on https://adviserinfo.sec.gov/.
Based in Raleigh, North Carolina, Captrust is an independent firm with a network of more than 30 offices nationwide and plans to grow larger. Legally known as CapFinancial Partners, the group has thousands of individual investors and high net worth clients, and it specifically markets its services to executives, business owners and professional athletes as well as certain retirement plan participants.
The team at Captrust can manage these clients’ investment accounts as well as provide financial planning, including tax consulting and estate planning. Captrust also works with institutional investors. In fact most of the firm’s assets under management are from pension and profit-sharing plans.
Captrust registered with the SEC as an investment advisor in 2003 and is primarily owned by its co-founder and CEO, James Fielding Miller, and other employees. Private equity group GTCR recently made an investment to help fund the group’s growth plans.
Separately, many of the group’s advisors also act as broker-dealers, meaning they can buy and sell securities for a commission.
Captrust offers clients an array of account vehicles and strategies, depending on their financial goals and needs. Clients can choose for their advisor to create and manage a custom portfolio that is unique to their needs, or they can go with specific strategies that are managed by or recommended by the Captrust investment committee. Clients can also invest with outside third-party portfolio managers.
Typical investments used by Captrust in client portfolios include a mix of stocks and bonds, mutual funds, commodities, options, margin transactions, real estate and strategic opportunities.
“To create a portfolio that provides the growth and income targets specifically customized to client needs. Said differently, we manage portfolios that are in line with a clients’ unique long-term planning projections from both a risk and reward standpoint. We revisit how the portfolios are tracking and assumptions utilized in our projections often.“
“Wealth management is a complex space and my goal is to make complex simple for my clients. I view myself as an advocate for my clients to ensure they never have to struggle with their finances or understanding the plan we are enacting together.“
The Captrust management team and its investment committee members have a clean record, disclosing no legal or disciplinary items. That said, some employees of the firm have their own disclosures with reportable events. Thus clients should refer to those forms for more information about their specific advisor or look up the advisor at www.investor.gov/CRS. To learn more about Captrust, clients can view their disclosures on the firm’s Investment Adviser Public Disclosure (IAPD) page.
For context, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requires all registered investment advisors to disclose to the public on their Form ADV any disciplinary or legal events, including criminal, civil and regulatory actions, over the prior 10 years that a potential client would view as material when evaluating the firm and the integrity of its management team.
Cambridge Associates, LLC caters to sophisticated investors with deep pockets. Nearly all of its clients meet the requirements to be what’s known as accredited investors and qualified purchasers, giving them access to more exclusive investments not generally available to the public. The firm’s typical clients include ultrahigh net worth families as well as institutional investors such as pension plans, corporations, endowments and foundations.
Clients turn to the firm for investment management and advisory services, as well as research, due diligence on managers and performance reporting. Some clients also use the group as an outsourced chief investment officer and for its expertise in alternative investments.
With roots dating back to the 1970s, Cambridge Associates is principally owned by its employees and clients. In addition to its Boston headquarters, the group has offices in New York; Dallas; San Francisco; Menlo Park, Calif. and Arlington, Va.
Rather than pick individual stocks, the team at Cambridge Associates helps clients identify and invest with third-party investment managers. In particular, the team is known for its resources to conduct due diligence on alternative investments, including hedge funds, private equity, venture capital, private credit, real estate, timber and other natural resources.
To identify the appropriate managers, the team looks at qualitative as well as quantitative factors. These include the history of the management team and experience of the current investment team, the consistency of investment strategy and, when available, analysis to suss out which investments and sectors drive the manager’s performance.
Cambridge Associates also has resources to help clients align their investments with their personal values and missions, and can help clients screen for socially responsible investing, ESG and impact investing, as well as assist them in finding women and minority managers.
Cambridge Associates has had no legal or disciplinary disclosures in the last 10 years that potential clients would find material in their opinion of the firm or the integrity of its leaders, giving the firm a clean record. Learn more by viewing the firm’s public disclosures available on its IAPD page.
Fisher Investments has a broad array of clients, serving everyone from individuals and families to retirement plans, pension funds, governments, foundations, corporations and others. It generally requires a minimum investment of $500,000 for its private client services, though it may accept smaller accounts at its discretion and offers the WealthBuilder account option with a minimum of $200,000. The firm offers investment management and provides some clients with a financial plan at no additional cost.
Legally known as Fisher Asset Management, LLC, the firm was founded in 1979 and began offering separate portfolio management directly to high net worth individuals in the mid-1990s. The firm is owned primarily by its founder and co-chief investment officer Ken Fisher and his family. Fisher has also penned many books on managing finances, and the firm holds seminars for clients interested in learning more.
Based in Camas, Wash., Fisher Investments has more than a dozen additional offices around the country. The firm also has a presence in 14 countries internationally.
Fisher Investments typically works with clients through discretionary relationships, meaning clients hand over control of the daily trading decisions for their account to the team.
Client money is typically invested in one of three assets: stocks, bonds and cash, or a combination of the three. Sometimes exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, options or other investments may be added. If the firm believes a prolonged downturn is on the horizon, it may move client’s equity accounts into fixed income or other defensive strategies.
The firm’s five-member Investment Policy Committee makes the investment decisions. When conducting its research, and to screen for attractive securities, the firm uses qualitative and quantitative techniques, including the extensive use of computers, computer peripherals, software and computer databases.
“Our portfolio management philosophy puts client interests first. That means thoroughly understanding their personal and financial circumstances, goals, investment time horizon and many other factors to help them achieve financial success
We utilize a “top down” investment process emphasizing asset allocation decisions to achieve our clients’ goals. We believe an optimal mix of stocks, bonds, cash and other investments tied to an investor’s goals and time horizon largely drive portfolio returns over time.
Our client-first philosophy reflects how we’ve organized our business, which includes dedicated service personnel, a variety of educational client communications, and our simple, transparent fee structure. “
“This business is all about helping people build healthier financial lives. I’ve seen firsthand how good financial advice can help a client feel more secure and financially prepared for whatever the future holds. The peace of mind that comes from working with an experienced professional who always has your best interests in mind can be life-changing.
Fisher Investments has led the industry in providing institutional-level investing expertise to individuals and families. We don’t sell mutual funds or other fee-based products. We don’t earn brokerage fees. Our fiduciary role is at the heart of our firm’s culture, ensuring that every action we take puts our clients’ best interests first.
To me, it’s all about education and communication. Trust has to be earned, and so our most senior staff stay in regular communication with our clients. We constantly update them with our latest portfolio ideas, and we are transparent and open about all parts of the strategy in market environments both good and difficult. Ongoing education instills confidence and follow through on keeping long-term goals. Knowing that we’ve helped tens of thousands of individuals and families realize better financial futures is what inspires us to continue growing.“
Quotes Attributable to Michael Hanson, SVP of Research and Investment Policy Committee Member
Fisher Investments discloses no legal or disciplinary actions against the firm or its management team over the previous decade that a client would find materially shapes their opinion of the firm or the integrity of its leaders. To view the firm’s public disclosures, visit its IAPD page. Also remember to look up individual advisors at www.Investor.gov/CRS.
As its name signals, Global Retirement Partners, LLC caters primarily to retirement and pension plans, as well as to individual investors. Based in San Rafael, Calif., the firm has more than 80 offices spread around the country, some of which are branded under their own names but part of the Global Retirement Partners group.
The team at Global Retirement Partners provides its individual clients primarily with asset management as well as some financial planning services. The firm also offers an online portfolio investment management program that uses computer algorithms to manage client money invested in ETFs and mutual funds.
The firm, which has been in business since 2014, is owned by a Delaware corporation, HUB International Limited.
How client money is invested at Global Retirement Partners varies by advisor, depending on the advisor’s preferred investing philosophies and strategies as well as the client’s goals. Advisors may manage the client’s account themselves, or invest it with third-party managers and their model portfolios, including LPL Financial, an investment advisor and broker-dealer.
Advisors at Global Retirement Partners use a variety of strategies when managing money for clients. They make long-term purchases, and trade quickly if they expect sudden price changes. They analyze many different factors when making investment decisions, including the economic environment, technical factors such as patterns that help predict market movements and specifics about a company such as its management team and financial condition.
Global Retirement Partners shares no legal or disciplinary actions against the firm, its employees or its affiliates in the prior 10 years that a client would view as material when assessing the firm and the integrity of its managers. To view the firm’s public disclosures, visit its IAPD page.
Founded in 2008, Hightower Advisors, LLC has a network of more than 80 offices around the country, which often operate under their own branding but partner with Hightower Advisors. The group is majority owned by private equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners. Some Hightower advisors and employees also have an ownership stake. The firm has acquired many independent practices and has plans to grow further.
Hightower Advisors caters to individual investors and families with and without high net worth, as well as pensions and other retirement plans, businesses and charitable organizations.
Clients will find portfolio management as well as financial planning services, which can address a range of topics from estate planning and education planning to retirement. Separately, most advisors are licensed as broker-dealers, meaning they can buy and sell securities for clients and earn a commission.
Although the firm has no minimum investment amount, the team notes that some services may not be beneficial for accounts smaller than $500,000 due trading and transaction costs.
Each advisor at Hightower Advisors decides how to invest a client’s money, based on the client’s situation as well as the advisor’s individual preferences, philosophies and expertise.
Advisors have access to a variety of asset allocation portfolios with varying levels of risk. These portfolios use numerous types of investments such as index funds, mutual funds and separately managed accounts. Advisors also have access to the firm’s separately managed accounts for individual equity and fixed income securities, with multiple strategies within each asset class. Client money may also be invested with outside managers.
Specific investment recommendations may include stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, options, warrants, real estate investment trusts and alternative investments.
“I knew that I wanted to be a financial advisor when I was still in high school. There was never a “Plan B.” Perhaps it’s the combination of working with people as well as numbers that appealed to me but I know that I wouldn’t have been happy doing anything else. I still get excited to log onto my computer to see what is happening in the markets each morning. My satisfaction comes from helping people achieve their life goals as a result of helping them to effectively handle their finances.“
“Our portfolio management philosophy is both quantitative and qualitative. We have refined our quant models over the years to help us identify a short list of quality stocks into which we do a deep dive to come up with the companies that we want to own.“
Hightower Advisors discloses no criminal, civil or regulatory events against the firm, its employees or its affiliates in the prior 10 years that a potential client would find material to their opinion of the firm. As a registered investment advisor, Hightower Advisors is required by the SEC to report this information in its publicly available filings.
NFP Retirement’s client list includes pensions and other retirement plans, as well individual investors with and without high net worth. For individual clients, advisors at the firm may offer portfolio management as well as financial consulting, tackling topics such as estate planning, retirement planning or saving for college. NFP Retirement also offers an automated portfolio advisory program that follows model asset allocations by automatically generating trades.
The firm is headquartered in Aliso Viejo, Calif., and it has more than a dozen additional offices nationwide. Some of these offices may operate under other brand names. NFP Retirement is owned by NFP Corp., an insurance broker and consultant previously known as National Financial Partners Corp.
Advisors at NFP Retirement typically handle client accounts through discretionary relationships, meaning advisors make the daily trading decisions in the account without client preapproval. Advisors may take non-discretionary accounts on a case-by-case basis.
Client money typically is invested in mutual funds and ETFs, and sometimes in individual securities as well. Which specific strategy is used depends on a client’s circumstances as well as the particular advisor. To formulate the appropriate asset allocations for clients, the team uses research from third parties as well as proprietary analysis.
“I‘m a big proponent of the three Cs in retirement plan consulting / portfolio management: compassion, caring and courage. Our commitment to these qualities motivates us to drive positive outcomes for participants saving for retirement. An added benefit of being an advisor with NFP is getting to do this with a fun group of professionals who understand each client’s mission and have an impact on their ability to achieve it.“
NFP Retirement reports a clean record, disclosing no legal or disciplinary events in the prior 10 years against the firm or its employees that potential clients would view as material in their evaluation of the firm or the integrity of its leaders. Learn more by viewing the firm’s IAPD page.
High net worth individuals and families, including family offices, can turn to Fort Washington Investment Advisors Inc. for portfolio management and financial planning. The latter may address myriad topics including estate planning and business planning and sometimes even feature a written financial plan. In general, Fort Washington Investment Advisors requires its non-institutional clients to invest at least $500,000 to work with the firm. The firm has varying minimum requirements for its institutional clients, which include charitable organizations, corporations, pension and profit-sharing plans, insurance companies and others.
Fort Washington Investment Advisors is the investment arm of the Western & Southern Financial Group and its insurance affiliates. Incorporated in 1990, Fort Washington Investment Advisors is principally owned by various companies and structures related to the Western & Southern Financial Group. Advisors at the firm may recommend insurance products from its affiliated company.
Based in Cincinnati, Fort Washington Investment Advisors has additional offices in Albany, N.Y.; Beechwood, Ohio; and San Francisco.
Fort Washington Investment Advisors may invest client money in its many equity, fixed income, private equity and other strategies, including insurance products, or with outside managers. Based on a client’s objectives and unique situation, advisors may recommend active or passive strategies, mutual funds or separate accounts, as well as affiliated strategies and products. When appropriate, advisors may recommend structured products and derivatives.
To identify attractive investments, Fort Washington Investment Advisors does not adhere to one type of analysis. Instead, the team uses many types of research. This includes examining factors specific to the company and industry, as well as searching for market patterns and using mathematical models to assess the quality of a company’s business model.
“Our investment philosophy is based on evidence, rather than speculation or narrative. The core beliefs that drive our investment approach include: We believe that a disciplined, long-term investment approach rewards investors over time, and global diversification and rigorous asset allocation are the best ways to maximize risk-adjusted returns. Moreover, downside risk is a better proxy for risk than volatility. Additionally, investment costs matter.“
“I am thankful that each day I have the opportunity to help others while doing what I love. I am truly passionate about what I do—simplifying the complexities of the financial markets and helping clients to achieve their goals. In our busy lives, we are so focused on the day-to-day and don’t always have the time to focus or plan for the long term. It is a joy to be able to help clients make the most of what they have and what they work hard for every day. Simply put, we help our clients to live the one life they have the best way they can.“
Fort Washington Investment Advisors has a clean record. The firm discloses no civil, criminal, regulatory or other legal or disciplinary actions against the firm, its employees or its affiliates in the previous 10 years that clients would find materially impacts their views of the firm or the integrity of its leaders.
The bulk of the money managed by Advised Assets Group, LLC comes from employer-sponsored and government pension, profit-sharing and other retirement plans. The firm provides investment advice and management, as well as financial planning, to workers in those plans. However, advisors also may offer investment management and financial planning services directly to individual investors with Empower Premier IRAs or brokerage accounts.
Based in Greenwood Village, Colo., Advised Assets Group has five additional offices around the country. Advised Assets Group is a subsidiary of Great-West Life & Annuity Insurance Company, and has been registered as an investment advisor since 2000.
Most advisors at the firm are separately licensed as broker-dealers, meaning they can buy and sell securities for commissions.
Workers accessing Advised Assets Group through their employer-sponsored plans must invest with the possibilities offered through those plans. Other clients enlisting the firm on their own can choose from a range of asset allocation models and professionally managed portfolios offered by the firm.
The latter type of client will be asked to respond to a questionnaire that assesses their overall investment knowledge, capacity for risk and time horizon. Each client’s results are then scored and plotted against a preset matrix that determines which portfolio may be most appropriate for them. For example, investors with low scores on risk tolerance and time horizon will be assigned a conservative portfolio.
Advised Assets Group lists one regulatory event over the last 10 years involving its parent company, Great-West Life & Annuity Insurance Company. In 2013, the Kentucky Department of Insurance examined practices and procedures in the group and the individual life insurance and annuity space and found deficiencies for certain life insurance products around marketing and advertising, replacement policy notification and others. The firm agreed to the findings, paid a $2,500 fine and took steps to ensure requirements were adhered to in the future.
To learn more, visit Advised Assets Group’s IAPD page.
Hall Capital Partners, LLC caters to ultrahigh net worth individuals and families, as well as a selection of institutions. All of the firm’s retail investors are deemed high net worth individuals, defined by the SEC as those with at least $750,000 to invest or a net worth of at least $1.5 million. Though the firm does not have a strict minimum investment requirement, it notes that the majority of its clients generally have over $100 million in investable assets.
Clients turn to Hall Capital Partners to manage their investments and for advice around planning for and managing their fortunes, such as transferring wealth, philanthropic planning, family business operations and navigating single stock positions. The firm also offers a number of pooled investment vehicles that generally require investment minimums ranging from under $1 million up to $3 million.
With roots dating back to 1994, Hall Capital Partners is substantially owned by the firm’s partners. Based in San Francisco, the firm has an additional office in New York.
Hall Capital Partners actively invests client money through a wide variety of managers including managers of private funds, separate accounts and some mutual funds. Typically, money is directly invested in a multi-asset class portfolio that is customized for the client, or through one of the pooled vehicles that the firm manages. Funds may also be directed for a specialized mandate including a specific asset class such as hedge funds, private equity or real assets.
To choose investments, the team focuses on investment managers who conduct deep fundamental research on companies, securities and events. Typical asset classes used in client portfolios include global equities, fixed income, cash, hedge funds, private equity and real assets.
Hall Capital Partners has a clean legal and disciplinary record. The firm discloses no criminal, civil or regulatory actions against the firm, its employees or its affiliates in the previous 10 years that a potential client would deem material when assessing the firm and the integrity of its management team. Learn more by viewing the firm’s IAPD page.
Chevy Chase Trust Company primarily serves individuals and families with high net worth, though it also works with a selection of institutional investors, mostly charitable organizations. In particular, the firm works with business executives, owners and entrepreneurs, including those transitioning their source of income from intellectual capital to investment capital, as well as individuals facing a liquidity event such as an inheritance, divorce settlement, stock option exercise or sale of a business. The firm provides these clients with investment management as well as trust and financial planning services, including facilitating family meetings and working through legacy or business ownership transitions. A minimum investment of $3 million is typically required to work with the firm.
Chevy Chase Trust Company was established in 1997 and operates out of its sole office in Bethesda, Md. The group is a subsidiary of Chevy Chase Trust Holdings, LLC and is also affiliated with ASB Capital Management LLC, another registered investment advisor.
Instead of focusing on the typical categorizations of stocks, such as value or growth, or small, mid or large capitalization, the team at Chevy Chase Trust Company builds portfolios concentrated on themes, sectors and other industries. These themes stem from secular trends, disruptive ideas, innovations, economic forces and other shifts that can make a big impact worldwide. Examples include urbanization, automation, heterogeneous computing and molecular medicine.
Chevy Chase Trust Company generally aims to achieve solid returns relative to appropriate benchmarks while also taking into account a client’s liquidity needs, income requirements and time horizon. The firm typically aims to invest for the long term, holding investments for a year or longer and considers tax implications in its investing decisions.
Chevy Chase Trust Company discloses no legal or disciplinary marks against the firm or its employees or affiliates in the prior 10 years that potential clients would deem material to their view of the firm or its leaders’ integrity. Visit the firm’s IAPD page to learn more.
At various stages of life, you’ll likely face certain financial issues, such as saving for college or deciding how to invest an inheritance. Or maybe your retirement and investment accounts have grown into the six figures, or you’re nearing retirement and need to know how much you can safely withdraw from your accounts without running out of money. In all of these situations and more, you may feel more comfortable finding a financial advisor to help you out rather than navigating this new and murky water alone. To narrow down your options, it is a good idea to interview potential advisors to see if they are a good fit for you and your budget.
A financial advisor can help you with one or many financial goals and needs. Other common services they can provide include investing your retirement or brokerage accounts, saving for retirement, figuring out how to pay for college, identifying your insurance needs, figuring out how to pass money onto your child, minimizing your tax burden and many others, depending on your life stage.
Some advisors focus more on managing your investments, known as asset management, while others take more of a holistic view of your finances and offer financial planning to help with these other goals, even creating a written financial plan. Either way, the professional can help you get on the right track to meet your goals, or simply verify that you’re already on the appropriate path, giving you more confidence in your decisions and motivation to stay on track.
Not every investor wants or needs to pay for a professional advisor. Perhaps you are just starting out investing, or your brokerage or IRA balance isn’t large enough to warrant paying the roughly 1% of assets that many advisors charge. You could go it alone if you’re willing to take the time to do adequate research to make informed decisions. Another option in this situation if you would like some guidance on appropriate investments for your situation is a robo-advisor.
These automated investment programs typically come with a much smaller price tag. However, you’ll need to be open to communicating largely online. Most robo-advisors will have you fill out an online questionnaire, with questions about your goals, time horizon and risk tolerance. Based on your answers, a robo-advisor will generally use algorithms to recommend an asset allocation or professionally managed portfolio that is appropriate for your personal situation. Often the investments are limited to ETFs, though that helps keep your costs down.
Here are the best robo-advisors currently on the market if this option sounds more appropriate for your financial situation.
Searching for an advisor based on the top options across the U.S. may feel overwhelming, or even not personalized enough for you, though many of the above firms do have numerous office locations. If you’re interested in a more localized search for a financial advisor, you can also check out the best financial advisors in your state using our roundups compiled below.
|Find the Best Financial Advisors In Your State||Find the Best Financial Advisors In Your City|
|New York||Los Angeles|
|Pennsylvania||New York City|
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.