Buckingham Strategic Wealth, LLC is a registered investment advisor (RIA) based in St. Louis, with satellite offices throughout the United States. Buckingham provides comprehensive financial planning to its clients, as well as investment management services. In addition to serving individual investors, who typically have at least $300,000 to invest, Buckingham also advises retirement plan sponsors, charitable organizations and businesses.
The bottom line: Buckingham Strategic Wealth is a RIA that provides portfolio and wealth management services to clients that include individual investors and institutions.
|Assets under management (AUM): $21,700,393,468|
|Minimum investment: No defined minimum but clients with under $300,000 are accepted only on a case-by-case basis and may owe extra fees|
|Individual investor to advisor ratio: 49:1|
|Fee structure: A percentage of AUM, hourly charges, fixed fees|
|Headquarters: 8182 Maryland, Suite 500
St. Louis, MO 63105
All information included in this profile is accurate as of March 28, 2022. For more information, please consult Buckingham Strategic Wealth’s website.
Buckingham Strategic Wealth was founded in 1994 by Bert Schweizer and Stuart Zimmerman, both of whom are accountants who wanted to provide clients with a better financial advisory experience than they believed they were getting from their existing advisors. Paul Forman and Steve Funk joined them as co-founders. Today, Buckingham Strategic Wealth is a wholly owned subsidiary of Focus Operating, LLC, which is in turn wholly owned by Focus Financial Partners, a NASDAQ-traded company that owns several RIA firms.
The firm is headquartered in St. Louis and has branch offices in over 40 additional locations. Buckingham Strategic Wealth has close to 500 employees, nearly half of whom perform investment advisory functions.
The vast majority of Buckingham Strategic Wealth’s clients are individual investors, with a fairly even split between those who are and are not considered high net worth (per the Securities and Exchange Commission [SEC], a high net worth individual is someone with at least $750,000 under an advisor’s management or a net worth of at least $1.5 million).
Although Buckingham Strategic Wealth has no set investment minimum, it generally works with clients who have at least $300,000 to invest. However, the firm may make exceptions for clients with smaller account sizes, particularly if they are related to existing clients with higher account balances. Clients with smaller accounts are likely to pay higher fees, however.
Buckingham is a full-service wealth management firm. When it begins working with a client, the firm determines the client’s goals and objectives, which are set forth in a written investment policy statement. Buckingham then builds an investment portfolio that helps clients meet their objectives, risk tolerance and required rate of return. Buckingham regularly monitors client portfolios to ensure that they continue to meet their defined objectives.
As a complement to its investment advisory service, Buckingham provides financial planning advice to help clients integrate their personal and professional lives. This offering, known as Practice Integrated Wealth Management, is typically an add-on to Buckingham’s service, but in some cases can be a standalone service. Practice Integrated Wealth Management provides only financial planning guidance, not investment advice or execution.
Buckingham also works with retirement plan sponsors to help them create and service retirement plans for their employees. Another service offered by Buckingham is as a sub-advisor to other independent RIAs. The firm will provide individual account management, usually for fixed income, for the other firm’s clients.
Here is a complete list of services provided by Buckingham Strategic Wealth:
Buckingham Strategic Wealth practices “evidence-based investing,” which draws on historical, observable market behaviors. The firm, guided by its chief research officer, Larry Swedroe, dives deep into the latest academic research to understand what works in the markets and what doesn’t.
Buckingham typically invests passively rather than actively, with a focus on smart diversification, low investment costs and risk minimization. Portfolios are tailored to each client’s specific goals, and will be continuously monitored and rebalanced. Portfolio managers will also engage in tax-loss harvesting for clients when necessary.
In general, client portfolios may include the following types of investments:
For the fixed income component of a client’s portfolio, which the firm institutes in an effort to reduce volatility, it creates customized laddered portfolios of individual bonds. The strategy calls for holding bonds of varying maturities. As one bond comes due, its proceeds are reinvested.
Clients who don’t have large fixed income positions are invested in low-cost, passively managed fixed-income mutual funds.
Buckingham Strategic Wealth charges for its services in a few different ways, including asset-based fees, hourly fees and fixed fees.
Wealth management and asset management fees: Clients are charged for the firm’s wealth management or asset management services based on a percentage of assets under management. The rate ranges from 0.35% to 1.25%, depending on the size and complexity of the client’s account, as well as the services requested.
Buckingham generally charges a minimum annual fee of $3,000 for wealth management services, which includes financial planning. For clients with a portfolio of less than $300,000, there is a minimum monthly fee of $250, which is charged on a quarterly basis.
In addition to these fees, clients will pay fees charged by mutual funds or ETFs that Buckingham selects for inclusion in their portfolio. For clients who wish to use a separately managed account provider for some portion of their portfolio, they will incur whatever fees are charged by that third-party provider.
Limited-scope service fees: For services provided in a more limited scope, such as tax preparation and tax planning, Buckingham charges hourly fees. In those cases, the firm typically charges between $200 and $350 per hour, with the rate dependent upon the nature and complexity of the services provided.
Practice Integrated Wealth Management fees: Clients who participate in Buckingham’s Practice Integrated Wealth Management program, which is the firm’s financial planning offering, pay a fixed fee. The rate is negotiable but typically runs between $150 and $825 a month.
There are no disclosures listed in Buckingham’s Form ADV, indicating the firm has a clean disciplinary record.
For reference, all SEC-registered firms must provide prompt disclosures of any legal or disciplinary actions on their Form ADV that would shape current and prospective clients’ evaluation of the firm and its management team. This includes criminal and civil actions, administrative proceedings before a federal regulatory agency and proceedings before a self-regulatory organization involving the firm, its employees or its affiliates from within the last 10 years.
For more information on the firm, visit its Investment Adviser Public Disclosure (IAPD) page.
Buckingham Strategic Wealth has offices in the following states:
Buckingham Strategic Wealth offers holistic advice, primarily to investors who have at least $300,000 in investable assets. However, it does make exceptions to this minimum, though those with smaller accounts may pay higher fees. The firm’s broad geographic presence makes it accessible to investors across the U.S., and its fee-only fee structure can ease concerns about potential conflicts of interest.
That being said, investors are generally limited to just three options for brokerages. Prospective clients may also have a difficult time comparison shopping, as Buckingham does not publish a public fee schedule. Instead, clients must meet with the firm to learn how much they may pay for its services. Make sure to weigh your options and consider your unique needs to ensure you find an advisor to work with that’s truly right for you.