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AE Wealth Management Review

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This review was produced by SmartAsset based on publicly available information. The named firm and its financial professionals have not reviewed, approved, or endorsed this review and are not responsible for its accuracy. Review content is produced by SmartAsset independently of any business relationships that might exist between SmartAsset and the named firm and its financial professionals, and firms and financial professionals having business relationships with SmartAsset receive no special treatment or consideration in SmartAsset’s reviews. This page contains links to SmartAsset’s financial advisor matching tool, which may or may not match you with the firm mentioned in this review or its financial professionals.

AE Wealth Management is a financial advisor firm headquartered in Topeka, Kansas. As a registered investment advisor (RIA), AE Wealth Management works with a network of advisors throughout the country, offering asset management and financial planning services to thousands of clients. These clients are a mix of individuals, high-net-worth individuals and institutions.

As a fee-based firm, certain AE Wealth Management advisors may earn commissions when recommending products and services in their additional capacities as brokers and/or insurance agents. 

AE Wealth Management Background

AE Wealth Management was founded by David Callanan and David Bach in February 2016. Callanan is the founder of Advisors Excel, LLC, while Bach is a popular writer and speaker with expertise in investing and personal finance. 

Today, the firm is owned by DDC Holdings, LLC, the Karlun M. Callanan 2016 Irrevocable Trust A, and the Jennifer A. Foster 2016 Irrevocable Trust A. David Callanan and Cody Foster are the primary owners of DDC Holdings LLC. David Callanan is also the trustee of Karlun M. Callanan 2016 Irrevocable Trust A, while Foster is the trustee of Jennifer A. Foster 2016 Irrevocable Trust A.

AE Wealth Management Client Types and Minimum Account Sizes

AE Wealth Management works with individuals, high-net-worth individuals, trusts, estates, charitable organizations, retirement and profit-sharing plans, as well as corporations and other business entities. 

The firm requires that you have at least $10,000 in order to open an account. The firm can make an exception at its discretion, particularly if you anticipate making additional deposits in the near future or a member of your immediate family is also an AE client.

Services Offered by AE Wealth Management

AE Wealth Management offers three broad categories of services to clients: direct asset management services, model portfolio solutions and financial planning services. Direct asset management services are offered on a discretionary basis, which means the firm will be able to buy and sell securities for your account without your specific permission. That said, you will be able to impose restrictions ahead of time if you wish to ensure that your account avoids certain securities or products. 

Model portfolio solutions allow you to review a collection of model portfolios and choose one that you feel aligns most closely with your financial preferences. AE Wealth Management consults with third-party firms to create the collection of model portfolios.

The firm’s financial planning services typically address at least one of the following areas:

  • Investment planning
  • Retirement planning
  • Insurance planning
  • Tax planning
  • Education planning
  • Portfolio review
  • Asset allocation

AE Wealth Management Investment Philosophy

AE Wealth Management advisors focus on delivering consistently reliable returns to their clients rather than hunting for home-run-style transactions that may bring unnecessary risk. When determining securities to recommend, the firm looks at past performance, potential sensitivity to business cycles and broader macroeconomic factors. 

The firm generally prizes a buy-and-hold approach over active trading, and it also engages in tactical asset allocation and value investing. Tactical asset allocation establishes a range of percentages for each asset class in your portfolio, which allows you some flexibility but also ensures that you’re keeping your portfolio diverse. Value investing involves looking for stocks that you feel have good long-term potential but the market is undervaluing for one reason or another.

Fees Under AE Wealth Management

AE Wealth Management calculates fees for its asset management services based on a percentage of assets under management (AUM). The exact rate is negotiable depending on the type of client, the complexity of the account, the client's relationship with the firm and the size of the account. The firm may charge clients as much as 2.50% of assets under management. These fees will be paid monthly in arrears.

Here are the maximum asset-based fees you may pay, based on the size of your account:

*Estimated investment management fees do not include brokerage, custodial, third-party manager or other fees, which can vary in amount.
Estimated Investment Management Fees at AE Wealth Management*
Your Assets AE Wealth Management Fee Amounts
$500K Up to $12,500
$1MM Up to $25,000 
$5MM Up to $125,000 
$10MM Up to $250,000 

For financial planning services, clients will be charged an hourly fee or a fixed fee. Hourly fees can range from $0 to $500 per hour based on the complexity of the account. Fixed fees typically range from $0 up to $10,000. The exact rate will be specified before you enter into a financial planning relationship, so you’ll know what you’re paying from the outset.

What to Watch Out For

AE Wealth Management has several disclosures on its SEC record, meaning that the firm and its advisory affiliates have been cited for violations of investment-related regulations in the last 10 years. All but two of these disclosures involve advisory affiliates, not the firm directly. However, in one case, AE Wealth Management was accused of "negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, negligent retention and supervision" in a lawsuit. The firm paid $12,673 to settle the case in 2019.

Also, certain advisors at AE Wealth Management are also registered representatives of Madison Avenue Securities, which is a registered securities broker-dealer. While these advisors won’t receive commissions in their capacity as AE Wealth Management advisors, they are permitted to conduct security transactions and receive commissions for those transactions in their capacity as Madison Avenue Securities representatives. This ability creates a potential conflict of interest since advisors may be incentivized to steer clients toward securities that will generate commissions.

Additionally, AE Wealth Management advisors may be licensed as independent insurance agents with Advisors Excel, LLC or Asset Marketing Systems Insurance Services, LLC. This means they could earn commissions by selling insurance products to clients. A conflict of interest also exists here because advisors would have an incentive to recommend insurance products to clients instead of focusing exclusively on the client’s needs.

That said, the firm discloses these conflicts before beginning any relationship with a client, and you are under no obligation to follow recommendations. Furthermore, the firm is bound by fiduciary duty, meaning that it is legally obligated to act in your best interest at all times.

Opening an Account With AE Wealth Management

If you’re interested in opening an account with AE Wealth Management, the easiest way to get started is to head to the firm’s website and click on “Find an Advisor” on the left sidebar. From there, you can find the AE advisor closest to you and reach out either by phone, email or in-person to set up an initial consultation.

All information is accurate as of the writing of this article.

Tips for Finding a Financial Advisor

  • Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can have a free introductory call with your advisor matches to decide which one you feel is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • Before you begin your search, think about why you're looking for a financial advisor. Are you looking for help setting up an IRA or a 529 plan, or are you just looking to dip your toes in the stock market? If it's the latter, you may be better off checking out a robo-advisor. Robo-advisors typically have lower minimums, and they can still help you work toward your goals.

How Long $1mm Lasts in Retirement

SmartAsset's interactive map highlights places where $1 million will last the longest in retirement. Zoom between states and the national map to see the top spots in each region. Also, scroll over any city to learn about the cost of living in retirement for that location.

Rank City Housing Expenses Food Expenses Healthcare Expenses Utilities Expenses Transportation Expenses

Methodology We analyzed data on average expenditures for seniors, cost of living and investment returns to determine how many years of retirement a $1 million nest egg would cover in cities across America.

First, we looked at data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on the average annual expenditures of seniors. We then applied cost of living data from the Council for Community and Economic Research to adjust those national average spending levels based on the costs of each expense category (housing, food, healthcare, utilities, transportation and other) in each city. Using this data, SmartAsset calculated the average cost of living for retirees in the largest U.S. cities.

We assumed the $1 million would grow at a real return (interest minus inflation) of 2%. Then, we divided $1 million by the sum of each of those annual numbers to determine how long $1 million would cover retirement expenses in each of the cities in our study. Cities where $1 million lasted the longest ranked the highest in the study.

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Council for Community and Economic Research