Finding a Top Financial Advisor Firm in Atlanta
Sorting through the hundreds of financial advisor firms in Atlanta can be a daunting undertaking so, after dozens of hours of research, we narrowed it down for you with this list of the top 10 financial advisor firms in Georgia’s capital. Now all that’s left for you to do is to consider the differences between these top Atlanta firms to figure out which financial advisor best suits your needs.
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Homrich Berg Wealth Management
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Capital Directions, LLC
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Gratus Capital, LLC
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JOYN Advisors, Inc.
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Berman Capital Advisors, LLC
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How We Found the Top Financial Advisor Firms in Atlanta
To narrow it down to these 10 financial advisor firms in Atlanta, SmartAsset first gathered all U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)- registered firms located in the metro area, as these firms are all bound by a fiduciary duty to act in their clients' best interest. Then, we eliminated any firms that had disciplinary issues, to ensure our list was only comprised of firms with clean records. We also cut firms that did not have financial planners on staff or that did not manage individual and high-net-worth individual accounts. From there, we sorted the firms accorded to assets under management. The firms here are ranked from highest assets under management to lowest.
Homrich Berg Wealth Management
Homrich Berg Wealth Management has by far the most assets under management (AUM) of any firm on this list. It manages $4,499,717,884 in assets, nearly $2 billion more than the second-ranking firm in terms of AUM, SignatureFD, LLC.
The fee-only firm has 45 advisors, which is more than any of the other firms on our list. It has 21 certified financial planners (CFPs), the second-highest number of CFPs compared to the other firms on this list. In addition, Homrich Berg has six certified public accountants (CPAs), five chartered financial analysts (CFAs) and two certified divorce financial analysts® (CDFAs®).
To be a client of Homrich Berg Wealth Management, you’ll need at least $1 million in investable assets.
Homrich Berg Wealth Management Background
The firm was formed in 1989 by David Homrich and Andy Berg upon the “core belief that investors deserve unbiased advice,” its website explains. Berg remains the firm’s main owner and he’s a principal at the firm. He was ranked by Barron’s as one of the nation’s top 100 independent financial advisors for the 10th year in a row in 2017.
Since Homrich Berg Wealth Management’s founding, it has continued to grow, adding a second office in Atlanta in 2008 and another in 2013. The firm, which states that it values individualized and objective wealth management advice, has a 98% retention rate.
At Homrich Berg Wealth Management, each client is serviced by a team of three to four people. This includes a principal, a director or senior associate, an associate and a client care coordinator.
Homrich Berg Wealth Management Investment Strategy
The firm has an internal investments team responsible for providing updates on each asset class and the issues affecting portfolios.
While the firm’s portfolios include traditional investments in each asset class, it uses a wide range of investments that may extend to alternative investments. In some instances, the firm may create pooled access fund vehicles to give investors access to a diversified portfolio of alternative investments at no additional charge.
Homrich Berg Wealth Management Resources
Homrich Berg Wealth Management keeps its clients well-informed through a variety of resources. The firm has a consolidated online reporting platform that’s accessible 24/7 and that offers clients a complete view of their investment portfolios and answers to common questions.
The firm sponsors conferences and holds social gatherings for its clients. Quarterly investment communications are sent out through the firm’s HB Market Monitor, and investment and planning commentary is also distributed on occasion.
SignatureFD, LLC has many varied experts on staff. It has the most certified financial planners (CFPs) of any firm on this list, with 22. In addition, it has eight certified public accountants (CPAs), six chartered financial analysts (CFAs), two certified divorce financial analysts® (CDFAs®), one certified trust and financial advisor (CTFA), one personal financial specialist (PFS), one certified exit planning advisor (CEPA) and one retirement income certified professional® (RICP).
You’ll need least $2 million in investable assets for SignatureFD to take you on as a client.
The fee-based firm is involved in a variety of other business activities. So while the advisors must by law look out for your best interest as fiduciaries, there could be times when the company could benefit from selling you a certain product. SignatureFD owns several private funds, for which it could earn compensation, and it is also an insurance broker/agent and a mortgage broker. The firm is also affiliated with a certified public accounting firm. Prospective clients should be sure to ask questions to ensure they fully understand how advisors and/or the company get paid if you purchase these products.
SignatureFD, LLC Investing Approach
The firm, founded in 1997, takes a threefold approach to investment: maximize returns, minimize taxes and expenses and control risk through proper diversification. The firm primarily allocates client investment among mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). SignatureFD’s financial planning and investment management services are offered on a standalone basis for separate fees.
A unique feature of the firm is its distinct signature initiatives, which were designed to meet the needs of its diverse client groups. There’s SignatureEXEC, SignatureHEALTH, SignatureGENEROSITy, SignatureLAW, SignatureWOMEN and SignatureENTREPRENEUR. SignatureWOMEN, for instance, offers women a specialized approach toward meeting their financial goals by taking women’s unique challenges and needs into account.
SignatureFD, LLC Resources
SignatureFD hosts a monthly event for its clients.
Capital Directions, LLC
This fee-only firm has the lowest account minimum of any firm on this list. To be a client, you’ll need at least $150,000 in investable assets.
The firm has five advisors, making it the smallest on this list. However, all five of its advisors are certified financial planners (CFPs).
For investors wanting to plan for retirement, Capital Directions is worth considering. The firm has expertise in assisting clients with their company retirement plans.
Capital Directions, LLC Background
Capital Directions, LLC was founded in 1985 and it’s now a leading fee-only firm in the Southeast. It’s owned by its principals, Dennis Covington, N. Scott Pritchard and Terry P. Hartigan.
Capital Directions believes that emotions are the main thing standing between investors getting rewarded for a diversified, long-term portfolio. The firm thus views one of its main responsibilities to be serving as “the emotional barrier between clients and their money” to ensure there aren’t any “emotion-driven derivations” from their investment approach during periods of market extremes, the firm says on its website.
Capital Directions creates these well-diversified portfolios based on the modern portfolio theory (MPT) and the efficient-market hypothesis (EMH). The firm states that they don't chase performance or the latest fads in investment, instead opting to focus on diversifying across asset classes, minimizing costs and maximizing returns.
Balentine, LLC, alongside Berman Capital Advisors, LLC, has the highest account minimum of these 10 Atlanta firms. To be a client of Balentine, you’ll need at least $5 million in investable assets.
The fee-only firm, whose investment strategy is centered up on risk management, offers a decent array of expertise, though many firms on this list boast more certifications. There are four certified financial planners (CFPs), eight chartered financial analysts (CFAs), one certified public accountant (CPA) and one certified trust and financial advisor on staff at Balentine.
In 2017, the firm’s chairman and CEO Robert Balentine was the highest-ranked independent investment advisor from Georgia in Barron’s ranking of the nation’s 100 best financial advisors by state.
Balentine, LLC Background
Balentine was formed in 2009, and it began operating in January 2010. The firm is solely owned by Balentine Partners LLC, which is owned by officers or employees of Balentine. The majority is owned by the chairman and chief executive officer and his family trust.
Balentine has a dedicated onboarding team and system in place to make the introductory phase easier for new clients, according to the firm. The company believes that no two clients’ portfolios should look the same. Success is measured not against a benchmark but against clients’ financial roadmaps, which are designed with their unique goals, needs and aspirations in mind.
Unlike most firms, Balentine doesn’t view its client portfolios as a division of assets among primary asset classes. Instead, it divides assets into building blocks, which are divided up according to risk level. The firm’s entire investment model is essentially built around managing risk, with an eye toward cost-effectiveness and tax efficiency.
Balentine, LLC Resources
Balentine’s full-time onboarding team is far from the only resource it provides clients. The firm provides portfolio and market commentaries and annual reports and forecasts, with the latest one spanning 19 pages.
The firm also provides clients with online access tools to keep tabs on their account summaries, trades and tax statements and to view their quarterly Balentine performance reports.
Montag was founded in 1982, making it the oldest firm on this list. The fee-based financial firm requires a minimum of $3 million in investable assets.
Montag has just one certified financial planner, which is the least of any firm on this list. This likely has to do with the fact that while clients may ask Montag to draft up a financial plan, the firm is primarily focused on investment management.
Founded in 1982, Montag is principally owned by the firm’s CEO, Edward Montag, its president and CIO, John Montag and its founder, L. Anthony Montag. As evidenced by the firm’s ownership, Montag remains a family operation.
Montag states that the portfolio managers at the firm work as a team. The company doesn’t employ any third-party investment management professionals, opting instead for a direct client relationship. Though financial planning is done on an elective basis at Montag, the firm does note clients’ goals, needs and risk tolerance in a “Memo-to-File” and their investment goals and guidelines in “Investment Objectives.”
Montag portfolios use individual common stocks, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and tax-exempt fixed income investments. The firm primarily relies on fundamental and technical analysis to select stocks.
Montag’s sleekly designed website offers an abundance of resources. The firm has a blog that addresses financial questions and doles out tips and information. A “Deeper Dive” section takes a more in-depth look at specific topics. The firm sends out a quarterly newsletter and the first quarter’s newsletter features a market commentary.
Gratus Capital, LLC
Gratus Capital, LLC is a fee-based firm that serves equal parts individuals and high-net-worth individuals. It requires a minimum of $500,000 in investable assets.
The firm has six certified financial planners (CFPs), two certified public accountants (CPAs), one chartered financial analyst (CFA) and one certified trust and financial advisors (CTFA) on staff.
In 2017, Forbes ranked Gratus Capital among America’s top 100 wealth advisors for the second year in a row.
Gratus Capital, LLC Background
In 2014, Gratus Capital, LLC took over the business of its predecessor, Gratus Capital Management, LLC, which was founded in 2006.
Gratus Capital, LLC is wholly owned by Focus Financial Partners, LLC, which also owns other registered investment advisors (RIAs), broker-dealers, pensions consultants, insurance firms and other financial services firms.
Gratus Capital, LLC Investing Strategy
Gratus Capital, LLC is an investment advisor to the mutual fund, Marathon Value Portfolio and it frequently recommends this fund to clients. While the advisors are fiduciaries required to act in your best interest, there could be some benefit to the advisor and/or company if a client chooses this mutual fund. Gratus Capital portfolios also may use equities, bonds, options, mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
Unlike some of the other firms on this list that create unique portfolios suited to clients’ individual needs, Gratus Capital believes that while individuals have different goals, there are certain investment practices that should be implemented across all portfolios.
The firm states that it takes a team-based approach to managing each client’s portfolio and it boasts a low client-to-advisor ratio. Gratus Capital focuses on making proactive decisions and it places an emphasis on analyzing market trends and rebalancing client portfolios accordingly. The firm employs a specific rebalancing discipline that may prompt it to purchase out-of-favor asset classes that provide results over time.
For a team of just 12 advisors, Brightworth, LLC boasts an impressive array of expertise. The fee-only firm’s team has 12 certified financial planners (CFPs), seven certified public accountants (CPAs), four chartered financial analysts (CFAs), four certified investment management analyst (CIMAs) and two personal financial specialists (PFS).
The firm, which serves a majority of high-net-worth individuals, has had a 98% client retention rate since it began tracking it in 2000. To be a client, you’ll need $1 million in investable assets.
Brightworth, LLC Background
Brightworth, LLC was founded in 1997 under the name Polstra & Dardaman, LLC. The firm has 17 partners. It also does business under the name McGill Advisors, a division of the firm that has an office in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The firm’s portfolios may use separate stock and bond accounts, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and private investment strategies. The firm emphasizes a long-term perspective as the key to success, but it also keeps an eye on the investment markets to make adjustments as necessary to client portfolios.
Billed as the Brightworth difference, the firm lets its clients call anytime to talk to their advisors about their financial situation or simply to discuss an idea with an expert.
Brightworth, LLC Resources
Brightworth’s website is packed with helpful resources and information and the website’s intuitive and creative design makes it all very easy to find. Brightworth provides a quarterly market commentary and it also has an array of articles, which can be searched through by topic area. The firm compiles its highlight articles from the year in a 20-page publication called Bright Ideas.
There’s also an offering of videos, which illuminate the firm’s perspectives on topics like Brexit and President Trump’s impact on its investment thinking. The firm also hosts events, including a 2017 Thought Leadership series.
Brightworth clients are provided with a Brightworth Performance Report, which tracks their investment portfolios from the outset. BrightView is the firm’s online portal for clients.
JOYN Advisors, Inc.
JOYN Advisors, Inc. takes a different approach to wealth management than the other firms on this list. This top Atlanta firm has spent more than a decade developing the concept of behavioral wealth management, a model that the firm explains incorporates “wealth management, stress and decisions, life event expertise and our ‘passion for the human factor.’”
The firm requires a minimum of $1 million in investable assets. It has nine certified financial planners (CFPs) and one retirement income certified professional (RICP) on staff.
Certain affiliates of JOYN are representatives of a broker-dealer and others hold insurance agents. The firm may receive commissions for the sale of investment or insurance products.
JOYN Advisors, Inc. Background
Founded in 2001, JOYN Advisors is owned by its CEO and co-founder David Geller, its president and co-founder Matthew Geller and its CEO of Strategic Liquidity Services Marc Lewyn.
The firm previously operated as GV Financial Advisors, Inc, but in November 2016 it changed its name to JOYN to better reflect its mission of using behavioral science in wealth management to help its clients live a more joyful life.
JOYN Advisors, Inc. Behavioral Wealth Management
JOYN Advisors believes that traditional wealth management models fail in one big way: They fail to account for what it calls the “human factor.” JOYN states on their website that employees at the company view money as a simply tool for creating a meaningful life, which is its ultimate end goal.
JOYN’s “passion for the human factor” takes into account a couple things aside from just managing wealth. It has a team dedicated to Life Event Experience that helps clients navigate major life events, like death, divorce, major illness or injury, getting fired from work or having a child. There’s also a Stress & Decision Making component, and the firm offers training and resources to help clients manage stress while making crucial decisions.
Despite its behavioral science innovating, JOYN Advisors Inc. stays traditional when it comes to the firm’s investing strategy. The firm emphasizes long-term investing, risk awareness and diversification. Its investment process relies on research, analysis, specialized teams and documented processes.
JOYN Advisors, Inc. Resources
JOYN offers a variety of resources that it will deliver straight to your inbox. The firm sends out Wealth Insights every four - six weeks, Liquidity for Business Owners every six weeks, periodic invitations to events, investing and market commentary as relevant and a Seasons of Care: Stories & Support newsletter for those in the caregiving stage of life.
At TrueWealth, LLC, more than 50% of the financial advisors are women. The firm was ranked by Fortune as a #1 workplace for women in 2015.
The fee-only firm requires a minimum of $1 million in investable assets. Its client base is primarily high-net-worth individuals.
The firm has an impressive 17 certified financial planners (CFPs), five certified professional accountants (CPAs), three personal financial specialists (PFS), one certified trust and one financial advisor (CTFA).
TrueWealth, LLC Background
The firm was founded in 1999 as Windham Brannon Financial Group, LLC. In 2014, it changed its name to TrueWealth, LLC.
TrueWealth operates according to four guiding principles: TrueValues, TrueTalent, TruePlanning and TruePortfolios. TrueValues, which include integrity, excellence, caring, optimism, balance and accountability, inform how the firm works with its clients and each other. TrueTalent describes the firm’s team; it adds about three new employees - the equivalent of one new client service team - every 18 months to keep up with growth. TruePlanning is the firm’s six-step financial planning process that helps clients stay on track to meet their financial goals, and TruePortfolios captures the firm’s investment philosophy.
The firm has an extensive blog. It posts weekly economic updates, as well as quarterly market commentaries, financial information articles and updates about the firm.
TrueWealth, LLC Investment Philosophy
TrueWealth’s investment philosophy avoids market timing, the sway of emotions and the sensational headlines. Instead, the firm embraces market pricing and lets the market do the work for it by opting for long-term investments, according to their website. The firm strives to reduce expenses and turnovers, minimize taxes and diversify broadly.
TrueWealth does not rely on forecasting returns, instead using passive approaches to investment management. The firm largely uses Dimensional Fund Advisors (“DFA”) institutional mutual funds, which TrueWealth says aligns with its investment philosophy by offering cost effective exposure to global asset classes.
Berman Capital Advisors, LLC
Berman Capital Advisors, the final firm on our list of the top 10 Atlanta financial advisor firms, is a fee-only firm that prioritizes wealth preservation. To be a client of the firm, you’ll need at least $5 million in investable assets. Balentine, LLC is the only other firm on this list with an account minimum that high.
The fee-only firm has eight advisors, making it the second-smallest firm on this list after Capital Directions, LLC. It has two certified financial planners (CFPs) and three chartered financial analysts (CFAs). It’s the only firm on this list that may collect performance-based fees.
In 2017, Financial Times named Berman Capital Advisors among the nation’s top 300 registered investment advisors.
Berman Capital Advisors, LLC Background
Berman Capital Advisors, LLC was established in 2010. The firm’s majority owner is its founder and CEO, Justin Berman. Before founding Berman Capital Advisors, Berman worked in senior management and leadership roles at financial institutions including Goldman Sachs and Arthur Andersen.
At Berman, advisors invest side-by-side with clients. The firm mainly uses mutual funds and exchange-traded funds in its individual, customized portfolios that are created with an eye toward minimizing risk and protecting capital.
The firm relies heavily on research to construct its portfolios. Berman Capital Advisors analyzes risk and return, fund teams and structures, and it performs on-site visits and interviews to evaluate managers.
Berman Capital Advisors, LLC Community Involvement
A unique feature of the firm is its community involvement. Berman Capital Advisors states that the company actively advocates for local causes and offers grants to charities whose causes aligns with its goals.