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D.A. Davidson & Co. manages the portfolios of, and provides financial plans for, individuals and institutions around the country. Based in Great Falls, Mont., the firm has 82 additional offices nationwide, with a heavy presence in the Northwest. In particular, D.A. Davidson & Co. focuses on helping middle-income and wealthy individuals and families reach their goals for long-term investing and other financial matters.
The bottom line: D.A. Davidson & Co. is a large investment management and financial planning firm with offices nationwide, particularly in the Northwest.
|Assets under management (AUM): $20,660,653,019|
|Minimum investment: Varies by program, but as little as $10,000 for investment management; no minimum for financial planning|
|Individual investor to advisor ratio: 93:1|
|Fee structure: A percentage of AUM, hourly charges, fixed fees, performance-based fees|
|Headquarters: 8 Third Street North
Great Falls, MT 59401
All information included in this profile is accurate as of November 5, 2021. For more information, please consult D.A. Davidson & Co.’s website.
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In 1935, the eponymous founder David Adams Davidson opened a branch of a firm by the name of E.J. Gibson in Great Falls, Mont. Six years later, Davidson bought the majority of E.J. Gibson’s stock and moved its headquarters to Great Falls. Roughly two decades later, Davidson’s son joined the team as its third employee, and the business was renamed to D.A. Davidson & Co. Since then, the firm has undergone many acquisitions and mergers, creating the national presence it has today.
D.A. Davidson & Co. is employee-owned, and a subsidiary of financial services holding company D.A. Davidson Companies. The firm has nearly 630 employees, all of whom are separately licensed to serve as brokers. Over 500 of those employees conduct investment advisory and research. Thus, clients can buy and sell securities through the firm’s brokerage services and pay per transaction, or work through its registered investment advisory designation and pay a set fee for ongoing advice. Nearly half of the firm’s team also sells insurance.
D.A. Davidson & Co. has a long and broad list of clients, including both individuals and institutions. The firm has over 35,000 accounts serving individuals and families, and another nearly 10,000 for individuals and families deemed high net worth. For reference, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) defines high net worth as having at least $750,000 to invest or a net worth of at least $1.5 million. On the institutional side, clients include businesses and corporations, charitable organizations, trusts, estates, endowments, foundations, government entities and others.
The minimum investment needed for portfolio management varies by program. It starts at as little as $10,000 for certain model portfolios and goes up to $250,000 for the Unified Managed Account Program. There is no minimum amount of money needed for financial planning services.
The group offers two main services: portfolio management and financial planning.
For the latter, D.A. Davidson focuses on creating financial plans for its clients to help them meet long-term financial needs. Topics addressed will depend on the specific clients, but can include retirement, savings, cash flow, insurance needs and estate plan needs.
During the planning process, advisors will dig into a client’s investment objectives and create an investment asset allocation recommendation, but not name any specific investment products.
These financial plans are a one-time document. Clients can have their advisors implement the investment recommendations in the plan either through the advisor’s broker capabilities, or by signing an advisory agreement for the advisor to provide ongoing investment management.
Keep in mind that separately many of the advisors can also sell insurance and annuities.
Finally, the firm also manages a private fund for certain wealthy and sophisticated investors who invest a minimum of $250,000.
Here’s a complete rundown of services offered by D.A. Davidson & Co.:
The investment process at D.A. Davidson & Co. begins with clients filling out a questionnaire about their risk tolerance and other information. Advisors use this insight to help determine the client’s investment needs, goals, appetite for risk and time horizon. Then advisors generally give clients an investment proposal that details the specific portfolio models being recommended, the asset allocation and even the specific investments held in the account.
As for the investment programs offered, the firm’s lineup is varied. It includes model portfolios typically managed by D.A. Davidson or outside firms, including Russell Investments. These model portfolios typically consist of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and mutual funds. Separately managed accounts are also available, using both affiliated and unaffiliated third-party managers. Certain financial advisors can also directly manage client accounts, either through their own model portfolios or by creating custom accounts unique to the clients.
To choose the investment products included in the various programs, the team uses a combination of qualitative and quantitative research, among other methods. Thus, they look at a blend of factors including the management team, firm structure and investment process as well as the fund profile and performance factors. In the end client, money is typically invested in traditional products as well as alternatives, including:
Clients can choose how involved they’d like to be in the day-to-day trading of the accounts. Most clients establish a discretionary relationship with D.A. Davidson & Co., meaning they give their advisors the power to place trades in their accounts without first needing to get preapproval for each transaction.
For portfolio management, the firm uses wrap fee accounts where clients pay one set fee (typically based on a percentage of assets under management) that covers the advisory fee as well as transaction costs and custodian fees. The maximum fee paid to D.A. Davidson & Co is typically 1.85%.
Here is the firm’s set fee schedule for its portfolio management services:
|D.A. Davidson & Co. Portfolio Management Fee Schedule|
|Investment value||Maximum fee|
|$10,000 to $249,999||1.85%|
|$250,000 to $499,999||1.60%|
|$500,000 to $999,999||1.55%|
|$1 million to $1,999,999||1.45%|
|$2 million to $4,999,999||1.35%|
|$5 million to $9,999,999||1.15%|
|$10 million and up||Negotiable|
Certain clients in specific programs, including with separately managed accounts, the Russell Investments and others, will owe an additional fee ranging from 0.02% to 0.60% annually. This extra cost covers fees paid to the portfolio managers, as well as the platform provider and an administrative fee of up to 0.15% paid to D.A. Davidson.
Despite this published fee schedule, fees are negotiable to a limited extent. Keep in mind that clients may still owe additional fees, such as mutual fund or ETF internal fees, custodian fees or other expenses.
As for financial planning, the fees are negotiable depending on the type of plan needed, as well as who’s preparing the plan. (For example, a certified financial planner (CFP) may charge more for the service than someone without that formal designation.) In general, though, plan costs can range from $500 to $10,000, depending on factors like the complexity of the plan and the client’s relationship with their advisor. In some cases, the plans may be done at no cost or based on an hourly rate.
D.A. Davidson & Co. discloses just over a dozen regulatory actions against the firm. For reference, the SEC requires all registered investment advisory firms to disclose to the public on its Form ADV and brochure all disciplinary and legal actions, including criminal, civil and regulatory, against the firm or its affiliates and employees in the previous 10 years that a potential client would find material when evaluating the firm or the integrity of its leaders.
Among D.A. Davidson & Co.’s disciplinary disclosures are the following incidents, ordered according to the date they were settled:
For more information on the firm and its disciplinary history, visit its Investment Adviser Public Disclosure (IAPD) page.
If you’re interested in working with D.A. Davidson & Co., this is the general process you might expect to go through:
D.A. Davidson & Co. is headquartered in Great Falls, Mont., and has an additional 80-plus offices spread around the country, with a heavy presence in the Northwest. The firm provides the location of its 25 largest offices as well as its headquarters on its Form ADV, which are listed below.
Here are the firm’s largest offices:
For the firm’s additional locations, see the map provided on the firm website.
In addition to having a wide base of offices, D.A. Davidson & Co. is also registered to serve clients in nearly all 50 states for those who are comfortable working with their advisor remotely. The only state in which the firm is not registered is Rhode Island.
D.A. Davidson & Co. could be a good fit for clients looking for an in-person advisor who can help them achieve their long-term financial goals, such as funding their retirement or passing their wealth on to their children. The firm’s low minimum investment makes it accessible to middle-income clients as well as the wealthy.
However, clients who want a fee-only advisor who receives compensation strictly from the client, and not for pushing certain products, may want to consider other firms. In this industry, you may be surprised to learn how much fees and revenue streams vary from firm to firm, and even from advisor to advisor within a firm. Thus, it’s up to clients to understand how, and by whom, their potential advisors are paid.
To look for financial advisors, you can start with MagnifyMoney’s advisor search tool.
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.