Buckingham Strategic Wealth, LLC is a registered investment advisor (RIA) firm based in St. Louis with satellite offices in an additional 34 locations throughout the United States. With 210 investment advisors on staff, Buckingham provides comprehensive financial planning to its clients as well as investment management services.
In addition to serving individual investors, Buckingham also advises retirement plan sponsors, charitable organizations and foundations. The firm currently has more than $15.5 billion in assets under management (AUM).
All information included in this profile is accurate as of March 5, 2020. For more information, please consult Buckingham Strategic Wealthâ€™s website.
|Assets under management: $15,523,330,180|
|Minimum investment: $500,000|
|Fee structure: Percentage of AUM, ranging from 0.35% to 1.25%; hourly fees; fixed fees|
|Headquarters:||8182 Maryland Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63105
Buckingham Strategic Wealth was founded in 1994 by Bert Schweizer and Stuart Zimmerman, both 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. Of the founders, Schweitzer remains at the firm as a client experience advisor.
Buckingham Strategic Wealth is now 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 it has branch offices in an additional 34 locations, including in Houston, Miami and Denver. Buckhingham has 448 employees on staff, including 210 who perform investment advisory functions.
Buckingham Strategic Wealth primarily serves individuals and high net worth individuals. For reference, the SEC defines high net worth individuals as those with at least $750,000 in assets under management or a net worth exceeding $1.5 million. In particular, the firm specializes in serving dental practice owners. Aside from individual investors, the firmâ€™s advisors also manage money for pension and profit-sharing plans, charitable organizations and corporations.
Buckingham Strategic Wealth has a $500,000 investment minimum. However, the firm may make exceptions for clients with smaller account sizes, particularly if they have family relations of clients with higher account balances.
Buckingham is a full-service wealth management firm that offers a large menu of services. When Buckingham begins working with a client, the firm determines the clientâ€™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 Buckinghamâ€™s service, but in some cases can be a stand-alone service.
Buckingham also works with retirement plan sponsors to help them create and service retirement plans for their employees. In these instances, Buckingham will provide investment research and recommendations for the types of investments the plan should include. In addition, the firm also provides investment education to employees. In some cases, Buckingham may manage the retirement plan assets.
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 firmâ€™s clients.
Here is a complete list of services provided by Buckingham Strategic Wealth:
Buckingham Strategic Wealth practices â€śevidence-based investing,â€ť 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 doesnâ€™t. Therefore, you wonâ€™t find active management in Buckingham portfolios, which is when investment decisions are made based on educated inferences about what the market may do.
Swedroe and his team maintain that beating the market is difficult and costly. However, they believe that investors can control factors like costs and tax efficiency to improve returns. Additionally, building on the work of Nobel prize winner Eugene Fama, Buckingham maintains that small-cap, value and positive momentum stocks have proven to outperform over time and Buckinghamâ€™s portfolios reflect these biases. In addition, the firm has a small allocation to alternative investments.
To implement these views, Buckingham favors mutual funds and exchange-traded funds that also practice passive and evidence-based investing. These include companies like AQR, Bridgeway and Dimensional Fund Advisors (DFA).
For the fixed-income component of a clientâ€™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 donâ€™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.
Clients are charged for the firmâ€™s wealth management or asset management services based on a percentage of assets under management, ranging from 0.35% to 1.25% depending on the size and complexity of the clientâ€™s account, as well as the services requested.
Buckingham generally charges a minimum annual fee of $5,000 for wealth management services, which includes financial planning, and a minimum quarterly fee of $250 for investment management, which the firm describes as a â€ścondensed offeringâ€ť of the former. Fees can be reduced if clients receive a portion of their investment advice elsewhere.
In addition to these fees, clients will pay fees charged by the mutual funds or exchange-traded funds 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.
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.
Clients who participate in Buckinghamâ€™s Practice Integrated Wealth Management program pay a fixed fee, which is negotiable but typically runs between $150 and $825 a month. Practice Integrated Wealth Management provides only financial planning guidance, not investment advice or execution.
There are no disclosures listed in Buckinghamâ€™s Form ADV, indicating the firm has a clean disciplinary record.
All SEC-registered firms must provide prompt disclosures of any legal or disciplinary actions in their Form ADV that would help current and prospective clients evaluate the firm. The type of legal and disciplinary events that must be disclosed include criminal and civil actions, administrative proceedings before a federal regulatory agency and proceedings before a self-regulatory organization.
Investors interested in working with Buckingham Strategic Wealth can visit the firmâ€™s website to view a map of where advisors are located and then contact them directly. Alternatively, potential clients can call the firm at (800) 711-2027 or send an email to [email protected] or [email protected] There is also an online form provided on the firmâ€™s website that you can fill out to request to have an advisor contact you.
Prior to signing on with Buckingham, advisors hold a â€śDiscovery Meeting,â€ť during which they get to understand a prospective clientâ€™s values, goals, relationships, interests, assets and types of accounts currently held. If the client decides to move forward with Buckingham, they can expect to receive quarterly reports from the firm that show their portfolioâ€™s positions and performance.
Buckingham Strategic Wealth offers holistic advice and could be a solid choice for investors with at least $500,000 in investable assets. The firmâ€™s commitment to avoiding conflicts of interest â€” and providing disclosures when potential conflicts do arise â€” should give clients reassurance that their money is being managed in their best interest, though of course itâ€™s always necessary to do your due diligence and ask your advisor questions.
However, Buckinghamâ€™s high minimums (except in limited cases), donâ€™t make it a suitable option for those who are just starting out and working on accumulating their wealth. Additionally, clients who want the flexibility to choose their own brokerage or donâ€™t want to work with one of the three options provided by Buckingham may want to look elsewhere.