*Third party rankings and recognition from ratings services are no guarantee of future investment success. Working with a highly rated adviser does not ensure that a client or prospective client will experience a higher level of performance or results. Ratings should not be considered an endorsement of the adviser by any client nor are they representative of any one client’s evaluation. Please also read a more thorough disclosure and additional information about the methodology used in making these rankings:
Methodology for Awards:
Financial Advisor (FA) Magazine: FA’s RIA survey is a ranking based on assets under management at year end of independent RIA firms that file their own ADV with the SEC. FA’s RIA ranking orders firms from largest to smallest, based on AUM reported to it by firms that voluntarily complete and submit FA’s survey by it’s deadline. FA does it’s best to verify AUM by reviewing ADV forms. To be eligible for the ranking, firms must be independent registered investment advisors and file their own ADV statement with the SEC and provide financial planning and related services to individual clients. Firms must have at least $500 million in assets under management as of December 31, 2020 to be included in the print edition of Financial Advisor magazine’s 2021 RIA survey. Firms with under $500 million will be included in the FA’s expanded online RIA survey.
Charlotte Business Journal: Charlotte Business Journal determines the rankings for Largest Financial Planning Firms solely by the number of CFP® professionals at the local office.
P&I: Pensions & Investments partnered with Best Companies Group, an independent research firm specializing in identifying great places to work, to conduct a two-part survey of employers and their employees. The firm evaluated the policies, practices, philosophy, systems and demographics of each nominated company, which accounted for 25% of the total evaluation. The second part of the survey measured the employee experience and was worth 75% of the evaluation. The combined scores determined the companies receiving the award.
Investment News: Best Companies Group uses a two-part process to gather detailed data about each participating company and shares this independent data with InvestmentNews to report the ranking. The first part is an Employer Questionnaire filled out by each firm detailing company policies, practices, benefits and demographics. The other component is an employee engagement and satisfaction survey with an in-depth set of 78 statements requiring employees to respond on a one- to five-point Likert scale of agreement, as well as two open-ended questions and seven demographic questions. To participate in the program, firms needed to be an RIA or affiliated with an independent broker-dealer, in business for a minimum of one year, and have at least 15 full-time employees.
FT 300: To ensure a list of established companies with substantial expertise, we examine the database of RIAs registered with the US Securities and Exchange Commission and select those that reported $300m or more in assets under management (AUM).
The Financial Times’ methodology is quantifiable and objective. The RIAs have no subjective input.
The FT invites qualifying RIA companies — more than 2,000 — to complete a lengthy application that gives us more information about them. We add this to our own research into their practices, including data from regulatory filings. Some 760 RIA companies applied and 300 made the final list.
The formula the FT uses to grade advisers is based on six broad factors and calculates a numeric score for each company. Areas of consideration include adviser AUM, asset growth, the company’s age, industry certifications of key employees, SEC compliance record and online accessibility. The reasons for these criteria are as follows:
- AUM signals experience managing money and client trust.
- AUM growth rate can be a proxy for performance, as well as for asset retention and the ability to generate new business. We assessed companies on one- and two-year growth rates.
- Companies’ years in existence indicates reliability and experience of managing assets through different market environments.
- Compliance record provides evidence of past client disputes — a string of complaints can signal potential problems, for example.
- Industry certifications (CFA, CFP, etc.) show the company’s staff has industry knowledge and signals a professional commitment to investment skills.
- Online accessibility demonstrates a desire to provide easy access and transparent contact information.
AUM comprised approximately 70 to 75 per cent of each adviser’s score, while asset growth accounted for 15 to 20 per cent. Additionally, the FT caps the number of companies from any one state, based roughly on the distribution of millionaires across the US.
Barron’s: Barron’s independently ranks its list of the top 100 RIA firms based on several criteria, which it has determined in their past annual rankings by assets, revenue, and quality of practice. This year’s ranking formula also included new additional metrics such as technology spending, staff diversity, and succession planning.