Ameriprise Financial Services Review - MagnifyMoney
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Ameriprise Financial Services Review

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Ameriprise Financial Services, one of the largest investment firms in the U.S., is a global institution that specializes in financial planning and investment management. The firm is headquartered in Minneapolis but has locations throughout the United States, as well in Europe and Asia. It offers a multitude of investment programs with varying account minimums, as well as comprehensive financial planning services.

The bottom line: Ameriprise Financial Services, one of the largest investment firms in the country, offers portfolio management and financial planning, largely to non-high net worth investors.

  • Offers several investment programs
  • Includes alternative investments in some programs
  • Has disciplinary disclosures

All information included in this profile is accurate as of September 14, 2021. For more information, please consult Ameriprise Financial Services’ website.

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Overview of Ameriprise Financial Services

The firm launched in 1894 when its founder, John Tappan, started the company by getting 1,000 people to invest $5 each. Since the firm opened over 125 years ago, it has expanded into a global financial institution with locations across the U.S., as well as in Europe and in Asia. Ameriprise is a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange.

In the U.S., Ameriprise Financial Services has close to 14,000 employees, of which over 12,000 work in investment advisory positions. Searching through the firm’s website, it appears many of the advisors in its network have professional designations, such as the certified financial planner (CFP), chartered financial consultant (ChFC), chartered retirement planning counselor (CRPC) and accredited wealth management advisor (AWMA).

Ameriprise Financial Services’ pros

  • Large selection of programs and investments: They offer clients a range of different investment programs and products. The firm is also a full-service broker-dealer, so you can make investments on your own. This gives investors plenty of options to create something that fits their unique situation, as they aren’t limited to one fund or portfolio.
  • Many advisors with high-end credentials: Searching through the firm’s records, we found many advisors with professional designations like the CFP, ChFC, AWMA and CRPC, which can require additional training and study as well as adherence to certain ethical guidelines.
  • Low account minimums: Some of the firm’s programs let you get started with a household account minimum of just $25,000. If others in your household are already clients and past this point, you could open your own account for just $2,000.
  • Awards for service and advice: Ameriprise Financial Services has been recognized as a top firm by publications such as Barron’s, Forbes and JD Power. The firm’s website notes that over 300 of its advisors were recognized for excellence in 2020.

Ameriprise Financial Services’ cons

  • Investment fees can run high: For portfolio management, the firm can charge an advisory fee up to 2.00%. Some of the firm’s programs also include an additional manager fee, platform fee and an investments and infrastructure support fee. In comparison, the industry average total advisor fee is 1.17%, according to a 2019 study by RIA in a Box.
  • Incentive to recommend products with commissions: Advisors can make commissions by recommending insurance and investment products from Ameriprise Financial Services. This creates a potential conflict of interest, as advisors may be financially incentivized to make certain recommendations.
  • Potential conflict of interest with participating mutual fund families: The mutual fund program in which Ameriprise participates may create an incentive for advisors to recommend funds that are part of the program. This is because incentives for advisors from the participating mutual fund families may include reimbursement costs for education training, seminars and other activities.
  • Has disciplinary disclosures: As is the case with many big firms, Ameriprise has reported disciplinary incidents over the past decade. See below for more information.

What types of clients does Ameriprise Financial Services serve?

The vast majority of Ameriprise’s clients are non-high net worth individuals, although the firm also works with thousands of high net worth individuals. (For reference, the SEC defines a high net worth individual as someone with at least $750,000 under management or a net worth of over $1.5 million.) Additionally, the firm works with a variety of institutional investors.

The minimum investment needed to open an account with Ameriprise depends on the program, starting at $25,000 for some and going up to $500,000 for another. Some of these program minimums are based on the total amount invested by your entire household. If you have a household member already investing with Ameriprise Financial Services and they are past the household minimum, you could open an account with as little as $2,000.

Each program also has a maintenance minimum. If your investments cause the balance to fall below the required threshold, you’d need to replace the funds up to the maintenance minimum. The maintenance minimum is usually lower than the minimum investment. For example, it takes $25,000 to open an Active Portfolios® account, but the maintenance minimum is $15,000.

Minimum Investment Requirements by Program
Program Minimum to open an account
SPS Advantage $25,000 within a household; $2,000 per account
SPS Advisor $100,000 within a household; $2,000 per account
Active Portfolios® $25,000; $5,000 per account
Select Separate Account $50,000 to $500,000, depending on strategy and portfolio selected
Vista Separate Account $100,000
Investor Unified Account $250,000
Access Account $25,000 to $50,000

Services offered by Ameriprise Financial Services

The advisors offer two main services: portfolio management and financial planning. For portfolio management, the firm offers discretionary programs, where the advisor can make trades on your behalf, and non-discretionary programs, where you must approve all trading decisions. The firm’s total assets under management are close to evenly split between discretionary and non-discretionary accounts.

Additionally, advisors can build a financial plan for clients that covers topics such as retirement, budgeting and charitable planning, on top of investment management.

The firm can also recommend a wide range of financial products from Ameriprise and other firms including insurance, annuities, credit cards, college savings plans and retirement plans.

If you don’t need advice, Ameriprise is also a standalone broker, so you can make investments on your own, without an advisor.

Here is a full list of services that you may have access to through Ameriprise:

  • Investment advisory services and portfolio management
  • Financial planning
    • Retirement planning
    • Trust and estate planning
    • Legacy planning
    • Education planning
    • Business planning
    • Tax planning and management
    • Spending analysis and budgeting
    • Long-term care planning
    • Debt management
    • IRA and 401(k) rollovers
    • Divorce planning
  • Insurance and annuities
  • Pension consulting services
  • Selection of other advisors
  • Workshops and seminars
  • Newsletters and publications
  • Brokerage services
  • Credit cards

How Ameriprise Financial Services invests your money

Ameriprise Financial Services does not just follow one investment strategy. The firm offers a wide range of different programs and investment products so clients can decide how they want their money handled.

When you meet with an Ameriprise investment manager, they will get to know your financial goals, risk tolerance and portfolio size. It is also up to the client whether you want the manager to have more authority in managing your portfolio (i.e., discretionary management) or whether you’d like to make the trading decisions yourself (non-discretionary).

Different programs offer different investment mixes. Some focus on funds, while others offer stocks and alternative investments. It will be up to you and your advisor to decide which program is best for you based on your goals and the size of your portfolio.

In general, however, investments used in the programs offered by Ameriprise may include:

Alternative investments like hedge fund offerings and real estate investment trusts (REITs)

Fees Ameriprise Financial Services charges for its services

For its investment programs, Ameriprise Financial Services charges clients based on a percentage of assets under management. You negotiate your rate with your advisor when you first sign up. To determine a client’s rate, the firm will consider factors like the size of your portfolio, your desired investing strategy and level of service needed.

The asset-based fee is made up of several parts. First, there is an advisory fee that can go up to 2% to cover the cost of designing and managing your portfolio. In some programs, the investment advisor can also charge a manager fee ranging from 0.10% to 0.80% to handle more complicated strategies. You could also owe a platform fee of up to 0.17% to cover trading costs and the support structure. Finally, in the SPS Advisor program, the firm can charge a small 0.03% investments and infrastructure support fee.

Ameriprise Financial Services Investment Management Programs Fee Schedule
Fee Applicable programs
Advisory fee: Up to 2.00% All Managed Investment Programs
Platform fee: Up to 0.17% Select Separate Account, Vista Separate Account, Investor Unified Account and Access Account Programs
Manager fee: Generally ranges from 0.10% to 0.80% Select Separate Account, Vista Separate Account, Investor Unified Account and Access Account Programs
Investments and Infrastructure Support fee: 0.03% SPS Advisor Program

Besides the aforementioned asset-based fees, you may also be responsible for trading costs that come up with your portfolio. Clients could also owe fund fees, which should be disclosed in a prospectus.

For financial planning services, advisors can receive commissions and fees, or compensation through bonuses. The fees are negotiable, and rates are not specified in the brochure.

Ameriprise Financial Services disciplinary disclosures

Over the past several years, Ameriprise Financial Services had a number of disciplinary incidents to report.

If an investment firm or its employees or affiliates have any disclosures on record, the firm needs to report the incident on its SEC Form ADV filing as well as its official brochure. This could include criminal activities, regulatory fines or civil suits. Ameriprise Financial Services reports the following in its brochure filed with the SEC, ordered according to the date in which the incident was settled:

  • 2018: In August 2018, Ameriprise Financial Services paid a $4.5 million civil penalty to the SEC. The SEC determined that from 2011 through 2014 Ameriprise Financial Services did not have the right procedures in place to protect client funds from appropriation (embezzlement) and that the firm also failed to supervise five representatives who were violating certain securities laws.
  • 2017: The SEC also fined Ameriprise Financial Services in 2017 due to its involvement with F-Squared Investments, which made false statements about its ETFs. From 2010 to 2013, Ameriprise Financial Services included these false statements in its advertising while selling these ETFs. The SEC determined that Ameriprise Financial Services did not have the right procedures in place to catch this false information, so Ameriprise had to pay close to $8 million in fines.
  • 2016: FINRA found that from 2011 to 2013, a representative improperly handled wire transfers of $375,000 from five customers, who were also family members of the representative. FINRA also found that Ameriprise Financial Services should have had procedures in place to avoid this issue. A settlement was reached in 2016, and the firm was fined $850,000.

The firm also reports events related to certain individuals involved with the firm. Before working with any individuals at the firm, also make sure to check their disciplinary history.

For more information on Ameriprise Financial Services and to view its Form ADV, you can go to the firm’s IAPD page.

Ameriprise Financial Services onboarding process

  1. Reach out to the firm: You have a couple of ways to get started with Ameriprise Financial Services:
    • Schedule a meeting: One way to do so is by filling out the online meeting request form provided on Ameriprise’s website. You enter your contact information and suggest times that work for your schedule. Ameriprise Financial Services then will have a local advisor reach out to you.
    • Browse nearby advisors: Another option is to browse nearby advisors. You can enter your zip code and get a list of nearby advisors, along with their specialties, designations (if any), website and contact information. You can try scheduling with someone who seems like a good fit.
  2. Discuss your financial specifics and get recommendations: Once you connect, your advisor will discuss your financial goals, risk tolerance and investment priorities. The advisor will then put together your investment recommendation and/or financial plan, depending on what you request.
  3. Schedule regular check-ins: From there, you’ll schedule regular check-ins at least annually to discuss your progress and update your plan as needed.

Where Ameriprise Financial Services is located

Ameriprise Financial Services lists office locations in the following states in its Form ADV filing with the SEC:

  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • New Hampshire
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin

While the above locations are what is listed in the firm’s SEC filings, Ameriprise Financial Services. Is registered to serve investors across the U.S. Go to the website to see if there is an Ameriprise advisor in your area.

Is Ameriprise Financial Service right for you?

If you have a smaller budget but still want a professionally managed portfolio, Ameriprise Financial Services could be a good choice. You can use some of the firm’s programs with a minimum investment of just $25,000 and access a wide selection of products and programs. Additionally, you can find a local advisor across the U.S.

Just pay attention to your rate before signing up because the firm’s fees can be on the high side, depending on what you negotiate. Also understand that some advisors may be compensated for recommending certain products.

Before you make your decision, be sure to research multiple firms to ensure you find the right advisor for your unique financial situation and 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.