Brighton Jones Review 2022 - MagnifyMoney
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Brighton Jones Review

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Are you a wealthy investor searching for a chief financial officer (CFO) to manage the many facets of your financial life? Brighton Jones may be a financial advisory firm to consider.

From tax planning to real estate investment advice, this Seattle-based advisory firm offers a slew of wealth management and financial planning services — albeit for a hefty minimum fee.

Brighton Jones might be best suited for investors who:

  • Need comprehensive financial planning
  • Seek real estate investment advice
  • Want access to Certified Public Accountants (CPAs)

All information included in this profile is accurate as of August 9, 2022. For more information, please consult the Brighton Jones website.

Overview

Founded in 2000 by Charles Brighton and Jon Jones, Brighton Jones is a fee-only financial advisory firm with more than $10 billion in assets under management (AUM). Today, the team has roughly 200 employees spanning all areas of finance, including financial planners, lawyers and accountants. The firm views itself as your “Personal CFO,” offering a comprehensive suite of services to address multiple aspects of your financial life.

The Brighton Jones team offers bread-and-butter services provided by most registered investment advisors (RIAs) such as portfolio management and an array of planning services. But the firm also sprinkles in some unique features you may find attractive. These include educating younger generations about their wealth, connecting investors who share similar philanthropic goals and a women-centric investing initiative.

We’re especially impressed with the firm’s commitment to helping employees and clients be their best selves. The firm developed a science-based program called “Mindful Emotional and Social Intelligence” that helps advisors be better listeners and more able to connect emotionally with clients.

If you work at a large Seattle-based company, you may find it helpful that the team is familiar with benefit and compensation plans at companies including Amazon and Microsoft.

Brighton Jones’ ideal clients

The vast majority of Brighton Jones’ clients are high net worth individuals (those with $1 million or more in investable assets), yet it does work with some emerging investors. We found that the firm’s ideal clients are likely:

  • Affluent investors. The firm’s minimum quarterly fee of $2,500 to $3,500 could be hefty for newer investors.
  • Real estate investors. The firm’s dedicated real estate advisory division could add the expertise you need for current and future holdings.

Brighton Jones’ fees

For a firm with quarterly fees beginning at $2,500, we’d expect more transparency on the firm’s overall fee structure. Unfortunately, that’s not the case with Brighton Jones.

While you’ll typically pay a fee calculated as a percentage of your AUM, that percentage can range from as low as 0.35% to as high as 1.25% with the firm. While this lands within the norm for AUM fees according to our latest research, where you land on that fee spectrum ultimately depends on your chosen advisor, account value and the number of meetings you require throughout the year.

Your AUM fee covers both portfolio management and general financial planning services. However, you may be charged separately for more robust and time-consuming services to build your plan if you have more extensive financial planning needs. If you’re simply looking for standalone financial planning, Brighton Jones can accommodate your needs and charges either a flat fee ($2,000 to $15,000) or an hourly fee ($150 to $300).

As is common with many financial advisors, you’ll pay trading fees and fund management fees on top of your AUM fee. If you’re looking for wrap fee services that bundle advisory and trading costs, this fee structure isn’t on the firm’s menu. And unless you request otherwise, advisors at Brighton Jones typically recommend that you custody your assets with TD Ameritrade or Fidelity Investments.

If you’re looking for a one-stop shop for your investment and tax needs, Brighton Jones has what you need. For a separate fee — either fixed or hourly — you can work with its team of CPAs for tax preparation services.

Services offered

  • Portfolio management for individuals, trusts and estates
  • Planning services (estate, insurance, tax, philanthropy and retirement)
  • Executive compensation advisory
  • Real estate advisory
  • Tax advisory

Brighton Jones’ pros and cons

Pros

  • Fee-only. You’ll never have to wonder about sneaky commissions.
  • Holistic. Wide-ranging capabilities can streamline your finances.
  • Locations in multiple states. Choose from 16 locations nationwide.

Cons

  • High minimum fee. A $2,500 minimum quarterly fee could sting.
  • Unclear fee structure. You’ll need to meet with the firm for accurate fees.
  • No family office services. Wealth management services aren’t robust.

Investment strategy

The firm’s investment philosophy combines traditional approaches of diversification and tax minimization with behavioral finance, which seeks to overcome the psychological biases that can lead investors to make bad decisions with their money. However, we wish the firm offered a more nuanced explanation of its specific investment strategies beyond industry-standard jargon about risk and long-term strategies.

As for securities, the firm invests in various bonds and fixed-income instruments, individual equities, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and mutual funds. The latter may include funds available to the public plus those only accessible through investment advisors. If you’re looking for private investment opportunities, the firm also manages several private funds and can also offer advice on unaffiliated funds.

However, real estate advisory services are where Brighton Jones truly stands out. While your advisor may invest a portion of your assets in real estate investment trusts (REITs), the firm can also conduct a 10-year evaluation of your existing real estate holdings and provide various levels of support for your assets in this category.

And finally, your advisor will likely manage your investments on a discretionary basis, meaning you won’t need to approve each transaction the firm makes within your portfolio. While Brighton Jones offers nondiscretionary management, it retains discretionary authority for most accounts.

Disciplinary disclosures

None reported in the past 10 years.

Locations

In addition to the firm’s Seattle headquarters, Brighton Jones has offices in:

  • Atlanta
  • Austin, Texas
  • Dallas
  • Denver
  • Houston
  • Los Angeles
  • McLean, Va.
  • Minneapolis
  • Newport Beach, Calif.
  • Palo Alto, Calif.
  • Portland, Ore.
  • San Diego
  • San Francisco
  • Scottsdale, Ariz.
  • Tampa, Fla.

Is Brighton Jones right for you?

While we wish the firm’s fee structure were more transparent, you may want to consider working with Brighton Jones if you’re an affluent investor seeking guidance on multiple goals and specialty asset classes like real estate. In particular, you may also find Brighton Jones a fit if you find their less conventional services addressing community, philanthropy and emotional well-being attractive.

However, if Brighton Jones doesn’t meet your particular needs, let MagnifyMoney help match you with a firm that does. You can start today with the short form below and we’ll do the rest.

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