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Best Financial Advisors in Chicago 2021: Fees and Services

Best Financial Advisors in Chicago 2021: Fees and Services
09 Dec
3:38

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone and is not intended to be a source of investment advice. It may not have not been reviewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners or the Investment company.

Updated on Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Looking for a financial advisor in the Windy City? The first stop in your search for a financial advisor in Chicago should be determining what your financial needs and goals are, as well as how much you can comfortably spend for a financial advisor’s services. From there, you’ll need to start sorting through the many advisory companies available to choose from in the largest city in Illinois.

In the hopes of making the task of comparing firms and data points easier, we compiled the most pertinent information on Chicago’s top firms. To determine the best advisors in Chicago, we looked solely at firms that manage individual accounts and offer financial planning services. We then ranked these firms based on assets under management (AUM), which serves as a general metric for the firm’s size, and client-to-advisor ratio, which suggests how much attention you may receive as a client.

Our ranking is not indicative of which firm may be best for you, but hopefully it can simplify your search. Take a look at our list below for the top firms in Chicago and their key highlights:

8 best financial advisors in Chicago

Methodology and criteria

For our search, we looked at firms across the city of Chicago. All of the firms considered are bound by fiduciary duty, registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and offer individual account management and financial planning services.

The firms that met this criteria were ranked based on their AUM and client-to-advisor ratio. These criteria are weighted equally in our scoring metrics. Firms with a higher AUM and lower client-to-advisor ratios garner higher scores. Our ranking system is designed to help compare firms but does not indicate which firm may be best for you.

In our reviews, we’ve listed several other key features that will help you determine which financial advisor is most fitting for your investing style and financial needs. It is important to note that we did not include disciplinary disclosures as a metric for our ranking. We have listed any disciplinary disclosures current as of December 9, 2020, but urge you to evaluate these firms on https://adviserinfo.sec.gov/.

  • Minimum assets required: No set account minimum
  • AUM: $57,000,000,000
  • Individual investor to advisor ratio: 287:1
  • Fee structure:
    • A percentage of AUM
    • Hourly charges
    • Fixed fees
    • Other (retainer or services fees, or some combination of above fees)
  • Firm phone number: (312) 962-3800
  • Headquarters address:
    200 W. Madison St., Suite 2500
    Chicago IL 60606

About Hightower Advisors, LLC

Founded in 2008 by attorney and financial services executive Elliot Weissbluth, Hightower Advisors, LLC is a private equity-backed registered investment advisor that offers financial advisory services through its network of advisory firms across the country, with 88 offices in total. Weissbluth is now the firm’s chairman, and its majority owner is the private equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners, although some advisors and employees also have ownership stakes.

The firm offers investment advisory and financial planning services. Its client base includes individual investors, including those who meet the SEC’s definition of high net worth (at least $750,000 under management or a net worth of at least $1.5 million), as well as institutional investors, such as businesses, pension and profit-sharing plans and charitable organizations.

Hightower Advisors, LLC investing strategy

Hightower Advisors predominantly manages portfolios on a discretionary basis, meaning that it does not consult with clients before making every trade. The portfolios created by Hightower Advisors may include a range of investment strategies, including long- and short-term purchases, options, shorting and margin transactions.

The firm uses several methods of analysis to determine which investments to include in client portfolios, including the following:

  • Charting: Uses graphic analysis to review an investment’s performance
  • Fundamental analysis: Evaluates a company’s financial statements to predict future performance
  • Technical analysis: Reviews specific sectors and securities for patterns and trends
  • Quantitative analysis: Seeks to understand the behavior of a sector or security through mathematical and statistical models

Hightower Advisors, LLC disciplinary disclosures

Hightower Advisors does not disclose any disciplinary actions, meaning it has a clean record. For reference, the SEC requires all registered investment advisors to disclose any legal or disciplinary actions on their Form ADV paperwork. This includes any actions against the company, an employee or an affiliate that have occurred in the past 10 years. For more information on Hightower Advisors, visit the firm’s Investment Advisor Public Disclosure (IAPD) page.

  • Minimum assets required: Not specified
  • AUM: $26,693,197,000
  • Individual investor to advisor ratio: 127:1
  • Fee structure:
    • A percentage of AUM
    • Performance-based fees
  • Firm phone number: (800) 621-4421
  • Headquarters address:
    353 North Clark Street
    Chicago IL 60654

About Mesirow Financial Investment Management, Inc.

Norman Mesirow founded Mesirow Financial, the parent company of Mesirow Financial Investment Management (MFIM), Inc., in 1937, when he purchased a seat on the New York Stock Exchange. Mesirow Financial Investment Management was founded in 1986.

Today, the firm provides investment management, financial planning and retirement plan advisory services. The firm primarily works with non-high net worth individuals, though its client base also includes high net worth individuals and various types of institutional investors.

Headquartered in Chicago, the firm has nine additional offices located throughout the country. This includes two additional offices in Illinois, in Highland Park and Oakbrook Terrace.

Mesirow Financial Investment Management, Inc. investing strategy

Mesirow Financial Investment Management develops individual investment policy statements for each of its clients based on their financial goals, risk tolerance, time horizon, asset allocation targets and preferences.

To choose potential investments, the firm uses several methods of analysis, including looking at historical performance and at company fundamentals, which include financial and economic factors. Typical investments used in client portfolios include mutual funds, equities, fixed income and alternative investments.

Mesirow Financial Investment Management, Inc. disciplinary disclosures

Mesirow Financial Investment Management has no disciplinary actions to disclose. This includes any civil, criminal or regulatory events within the last 10 years involving the firm, its employees or its affiliates. For more information, visit Mesirow Financial Investment Management’s IAPD page.

  • Minimum assets required: $1 million for individuals
  • AUM: $19,661,201,015
  • Individual investor to advisor ratio: 27:1
  • Fee structure:
    • A percentage of AUM
    • Fixed fees
    • Performance-based fees
    • Other (licensing fee)
  • Firm phone number: (800) 836-4265
  • Headquarters address:
    540 West Madison Street, Suite 1900
    Chicago, IL 60661

About Segall Bryant & Hamill

Founded in 1994, Segall Bryant & Hamill is owned by firm employees and affiliates of Thoma Bravo, LLC, another SEC-registered investment advisor, primarily through the holding company TB Lakeshore, LLC. Co-founders Ralph Segall and C. Alfred Bryant remain principals with the firm, while the firm’s third founder, Jonathan C. Hamill, has retired.

The firm offers portfolio management and, as part of its wealth management services, goals-based financial planning. It works with a wide range of clients, including individuals who both are and are not high net worth, as well as a variety of institutional investors. The firm generally requires a minimum investment of $1 million for individual relationships.

Segall Bryant & Hamill has four locations in addition to its Chicago headquarters in Denver, Philadelphia, St. Louis and Naples, Fla.

Segall Bryant & Hamill investing strategy

Segall Bryant & Hamill takes a “bottom-up” approach to security analysis, focusing on fundamental factors to guide its choice of securities for client portfolios. The firm’s research team also values environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors and integrates them into its analysis.

Segall Bryant & Hamill has more than two dozen strategies that it may recommend to investors, depending on their individual financial situation and goals. This includes domestic and international equity, domestic fixed income and balanced portfolios, as wellC as alternative investments.

Segall Bryant & Hamill disciplinary disclosures

Segall Bryant & Hamill does not report any disclosures on its Form ADV, meaning it has a clean disciplinary record. As a registered investment advisor, the firm is required to report any civil, criminal or regulatory events against the company, its employees or its affiliates. You can learn more about the firm by visiting Segall Bryant & Hamill’s IAPD page.

  • Minimum assets required: Varies by account type
  • AUM: $19,119,137,619
  • Individual investor to advisor ratio: 8:1
  • Fee structure:
    • A percentage of AUM
    • Fixed fees
  • Firm phone number: (312) 853-1000
  • Headquarters address:
    500 West Madison Street, Suite 1700
    Chicago IL 60661

About DiMeo Schneider & Associates, L.L.C

Robert DiMeo and William Schneider, former partners of investment banking company Kidder Peabody & Co, founded their namesake firm in 1995. DiMeo remains CEO of DiMeo Schneider & Associates, L.L.C, and shares ownership with a dozen other partners as well as NFP Corp., which provides technology and infrastructure support to the firm.

DiMeo Schneider & Associates provides investment management and investment consulting to individuals who are and are not high net worth, including family offices, corporate executives and business owners. Additionally, the firm serves a range of institutional clients, including retirement plan sponsors, nonprofit organizations, private institutions and corporations.

In addition to the firm’s headquarters in Chicago, DiMeo Schneider & Associates has locations in Austin, Texas; Boston; Santa Ana, Calif.; and McLean, Va.

DiMeo Schneider & Associates, L.L.C investing strategy

When it comes to managing clients’ money, DiMeo Schneider & Associates relies on two proprietary tools, which were born out of the firm’s focus on investment research:

  • The Frontier Engineer: This tool determines the appropriate asset allocation for a client by factoring in the potential long-term impact of market disruption. Portfolios tend to be highly diversified.
  • The Portfolio Engineer: This rebalancing tool aims to keep portfolios within their target allocation with as few trades as possible, minimizing transactions costs.

To find the best investments for clients at a given market cycle, the team at DiMeo Schneider & Associates analyzes thousands of private managers, hedge funds and public market securities. The firm has a 38-person team led by its chief investment officer that conducts research on investment opportunities, with the firm’s investment committee making the final call on which managers to use.

DiMeo Schneider & Associates, L.L.C disciplinary disclosures

DiMeo Schneider & Associates reports no disciplinary actions on its Form ADV, meaning it has a record free of any civil, criminal or regulatory actions against the company, its employees or its affiliates within the last 10 years. You can learn more about the firm by visiting its IAPD page.

  • Minimum assets required: No set account minimum
  • AUM: $9,519,544,050
  • Individual investor to advisor ratio: 14:1
  • Fee structure:
    • A percentage of AUM
    • Fixed fees
  • Firm phone number: (312) 429-2400
  • Headquarters address:
    444 West Lake Street, Suite 4700
    Chicago IL 60606

About Cresset Asset Management, LLC

Private equity investors and entrepreneurs Eric Becker and Avy Stein founded Cresset Asset Management in 2017 as a means of managing their own family wealth. Becker and Stein remain co-chairmen of the firm, which is owned by holding company Cresset Capital Management.

Today, the firm provides investment management, financial planning and family office services. It primarily works with individuals and high net worth individuals, with a focus on entrepreneurs. It also serves pooled investment vehicles and pension and profit-sharing plans.

The firm has nine offices throughout the country, including its Chicago headquarters. Its other locations are in Denver; Seattle; Minneapolis; Schaumburg, Ill.; San Francisco; West Palm Beach, Fla.; Atlanta; and Reston, Va.

Cresset Asset Management, LLC investing strategy

The team at Cresset Asset Management generally creates portfolios designed to meet each client’s goals, with a focus on tax efficiency. It does this via three strategies:

  • Diversified income: With a time horizon less than 10 years, this strategy aims to create financial independence and consistent, reliable cash flow.
  • Growth: With a time horizon of seven to 15 years, this strategy aims to create growth and plan for a client’s estate or charitable goals.
  • Aspirational: The time horizon for this strategy is 15 years of longer, and it emphasizes wealth creation.

The firm uses a wide range of investments in its portfolios, including cash, money market funds, stocks, bonds and funds. It may also include alternative investments, such as hedge funds or private equity, real estate investment trusts and others.

Cresset Asset Management, LLC disciplinary disclosures

Cresset Asset has no disclosures. As a registered investment advisor, the firm must report any civil, criminal or regulatory actions on its paperwork filed with the SEC. For more information on Cresset Asset Management, visit the firm’s IAPD page.

  • Minimum assets required: $1 million
  • AUM: $8,664,870,131
  • Individual investor to advisor ratio: 26:1
  • Fee structure:
    • A percentage of AUM
    • Fixed fees
    • Performance-based fees
  • Firm phone number: (312) 993-5800
  • Headquarters address:
    114 S. LaSalle, 34th Floor
    Chicago, IL 60603

About RMB Capital Management, LLC

Richard M. Burridge and Frederick Paulman co-founded RMB Capital Management in 2005. They remain the firm’s principal owners, and serve as CEO and president, respectively.

RMB Capital Management, LLC has two main business units: Its wealth management division, which includes family office services and financial planning for a more holistic approach, and its asset management division, which focuses more on providing investment products for clients’ portfolios. The firm, which generally requires a minimum initial investment of $1 million, works with individuals, including high net worth individuals, as well as pooled investment vehicles, charitable organizations, investment companies, pension and profit-sharing plans and other types of institutions.

In addition to its Chicago headquarters, the firm has 11 other offices throughout the country.

RMB Capital Management, LLC investing strategy

RMB Capital Management typically uses fundamental analysis, meaning that it focuses on specifics of individual companies in which it invests in addition to their position in the overall market, and takes an active management investing style. That being said, it may turn to other methods when appropriate, such as passive or indexed strategies or alternative methods of investment analysis.

The firm uses several investment strategies to create portfolios. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Equity strategies (domestic and international)
  • Fixed-income strategies (including core investment-grade fixed income strategies, tax-advantaged fixed income strategies, Treasury Inflation Protected “Real Return” strategies and liabilities-driven investment strategies)
  • Private fund strategies

In addition to the above, the firm may occasionally recommend third-party investment strategies overseen by another registered investment advisory firm.

RMB Capital Management, LLC disciplinary disclosures

RMB Capital Management has no disciplinary disclosures to report. This means that neither the firm nor its employees or affiliates have faced any civil, criminal or regulatory actions within the last decade. You can learn more about the firm by visiting RMB Capital Management’s IAPD page.

  • Minimum assets required: $1 million
  • AUM: $5,149,430,656
  • Individual investor to advisor ratio: 48:1
  • Fee structure:
    • A percentage of AUM
    • Subscription fees
    • Performance-based fees
  • Firm phone number: (312) 334-7300
  • Headquarters address:
    115 South LaSalle Street, 27th Floor
    Chicago, IL 60603

About Kovitz Investment Group Partners, LLC

Former Rothschild Investment Group colleagues Mitchell Kovitz, Marc Brenner and Jonathan Shapiro launched Kovitz Investment Group, LLC in 2003. They remain principals of the firm, along with Robert Contreras and Ted Rupp. The firm is a member of the Focus Financial Partners group, a publicly traded company that owns RIAs throughout the country.

In addition to its Chicago headquarters, Kovitz Investment Group has additional offices in Illinois in Highland Park and Northbrook. It also has locations in Aliso Viejo, Calif. and Madison, Wis. The firm offers investment management, financial planning and family office services, primarily to individuals and high net worth individuals, though it also serves a variety of institutional investors. The account minimum requirement is generally $1 million, though it is lower at $500,000 for clients of the firm’s California and Wisconsin offices.

Kovitz Investment Group Partners, LLC investing strategy

Kovitz Investment Group uses a long-term, value-based investing approach to build portfolios. The firm does not try to time the markets, and instead focuses on determining the value of individual investments based on its fundamentals. The firm believes that by ignoring short-term volatility, it can minimize market risk and deliver gains over the long term.

Kovitz Investment Group uses quantitative analysis; which looks at a company’s balance sheet and financial performance; and qualitative analysis, which evaluates subjective factors such as management and competitive advantage, to select investments for client portfolios. Investments used may include equities, ETFs and fixed-income securities.

Note that the specific strategies employed for each client may differ based on both the financial situation of that client and the philosophy of the office with which they’re working.

Kovitz Investment Group Partners, LLC disciplinary disclosures

Kovitz Investment Group Partners has no disciplinary issues to disclose. For reference, the SEC requires registered investment advisors to disclose legal or disciplinary actions on their Form ADV paperwork, including any actions against the company, an employee or an affiliate from within the past 10 years. You can get more information by visiting the firm’s IAPD page.

  • Minimum assets required: $1 million
  • AUM: $4,968,003,632
  • Individual investor to advisor ratio: 233:1
  • Fee structure:
    • A percentage of AUM
    • Fixed fees
  • Firm phone number: (312) 828-1100
  • Headquarters address:
    455 N. Cityfront Plaza Dr., Suite 3200
    Chicago IL 60611

About Gofen and Glossberg, L.L.C.

Samuel Gefin and William Glossberg founded Gofen and Glossberg, L.L.C. in 1932, with the firm becoming a registered investment advisor in 1940. The firm remains privately owned, with no principal owning more than 25%.

Gofen and Glossberg offers its clients portfolio management services. For a separate fee, it also can provide financial planning, consulting and general oversight and advice. The firm works primarily with individuals and high net worth individuals, though it also serves a number of institutional clients. A minimum investment of $1 million is usually needed to establish a relationship with the firm, which operates out of its sole office in Chicago.

Gofen and Glossberg, L.L.C. investing strategy

Gofen and Glossberg generally creates customized portfolios for each of its clients based on their individual financial situation and goals. The firm aims to create low-turnover stock portfolios made up of 30 to 40 equities, and it takes a conservative approach to fixed-income investing.

Typically, Gofen and Glossberg sticks to a long-term approach. However, when it deems it appropriate, the firm also uses short-term trades, short sales, margin transactions and options strategies.

Gofen and Glossberg, L.L.C. disciplinary disclosures

Gofen and Glossberg does not disclose any disciplinary actions on its Form ADV. This means that neither the firm nor its employees or affiliates have faced any civil, criminal or regulatory actions within the past decade. You get more information on Gofen and Glossberg by visiting the firm’s IAPD page.

Financial advisors in Chicago: FAQ

Illinois is among the least tax-friendly states in the country, according to an analysis by Kiplinger, thanks to a 4.95% state income tax rate and property taxes that are the second-highest in the country. Illinois also imposes an inheritance tax, which impacts estates of $4 million or more. Residents of the state may also be subject to federal estate taxes.

No. While many financial advisor firms assist clients with retirement planning, not every firm specializes in it. If you’re interested in getting assistance with retirement planning, make sure to ask any advisor you’re thinking about working with whether it’s an area of focus for them.

Whether you should look for an independent advisor depends on what services you’re looking for. Working with an advisor who is part of a larger financial services firm may give you easier access to other financial products and services, such as loans or insurance. While an independent advisor may not offer the same array of services, they’re also less likely to steer you to purchase products from their firm, if potential conflicts of interest are a concern for you.

Certified financial planners (CFPs) and chartered financial analysts (CFAs) are among the most well-regarded certifications in the financial advisor industry. Both required extensive coursework, ongoing education and adherence to ethical standards.

That being said, there are a number of certifications that an advisor can earn that can indicate a particular area of focus or expertise. To find out what goes into earning a certification and how well-regarded it is, make sure to do your research beforehand though, as not all certifications carry equal weight.

Source: https://www.magnifymoney.com/blog/investing/best-financial-advisors-chicago-il-rias/

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