Finding a Top Financial Advisor Firm in Berkeley, California
Finding a local financial advisor that fits your specific needs can be tricky. SmartAsset’s roundup of the top financial advisor firms in Berkeley, California can help to simplify your search. Below you will find a review of each firm, with information detailing their account minimums, fee schedules, typical clientele, investment strategies and more. To expand your search, use SmartAsset’s financial advisor matching tool. It will link you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area.
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|Rank||Financial Advisor||Assets Managed||Minimum Assets||Financial Services||More Information|
|1||North Berkeley Wealth Management, LLC Find an Advisor||$ 431,797,798||$1,000,000|| || |
|2||Blume Capital Management, Inc. Find an Advisor||$580,628,386||$2,000,000|| || |
|3||Parkside Advisors, LLC Find an Advisor||$587,130,325||No set account minimum|| || |
Minimum AssetsNo set account minimum
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|4||Affinity Capital Advisors LLC Find an Advisor||$511,308,407||No set account minimum|| || |
Minimum AssetsNo set account minimum
|5||Topel & Distasi Wealth Management, LLC Find an Advisor||$296,589,461||$500,000|| || |
|6||Elmwood Wealth Management Find an Advisor||$266,026,313||No set account minimum|| || |
Minimum AssetsNo set account minimum
|7||Willow Grove Advisors, LLC Find an Advisor||$185,108,095||$500,000|| || |
What We Use in Our Methodology
To find the top financial advisors in Berkeley, we first identified all firms registered with the SEC in the city. Next, we filtered out firms that don't offer financial planning services, those that don't serve primarily individual clients and those that have disclosures on their record. The qualifying firms were then ranked according to the following criteria:
- AUMFirms with more total assets under management are ranked higher.
- Individual Client CountFirms who serve more individual clients (as opposed to institutional clients) are ranked higher.
- Clients Per AdvisorFirms with a lower ratio of clients per financial advisor are ranked higher.
- Age of FirmFirms that have been in business longer are ranked higher.
All information is accurate as of the writing of this article. This list may include firms that have a business relationship with SmartAsset, in which SmartAsset is compensated for lead referrals. Such relationships have no impact on our rankings, and firms are included and ranked based strictly on the above criteria.
North Berkeley Wealth Management, LLC
Formerly known as North Berkeley Investment Partners, North Berkeley Wealth Management is the top-rated financial advisor firm in this Bay Area city. While the majority of its clients are high-net-worth individuals, North Berkeley also works with individuals who don't have a high net worth, pensions, profit-sharing plans, estates, trusts and charities. But to become a new client, you'll need at least $1 million in investable assets.
The firm has seven advisors who are certified financial planners (CFPs). However, North Berkeley is a fee-based firm because at least one advisors sells insurance on a commission basis, creating a potential conflict on interest. But the firm is also a fiduciary and always must act it its clients' best interests.
North Berkeley Wealth Management Background
Sue Reinhold and chief investment officer (CIO) Kate Campbell King founded North Berkeley in 2005. Reinhold has since left the firm, which is owned by King and two to other employees. Lead advisor Brian Kozel became a shareholder in 2017, while the firm's director of financial planning Sam Wood-Bednarz is also a partner. Prior to founding the firm, King had been providing financial planning and asset management services through a sole proprietorship.
The firm offers investment management and financial planning. It may also allocate a portion or all of a client’s assets to a third-party advisor, also known as a sub-advisor.
North Berkeley Wealth Management Investment Strategy
North Berkeley’s two biggest priorities when managing client assets are asset allocation creation and mutual fund manager selection. The firm looks to diversify broadly across different asset classes and within sectors of each asset class in order to minimize volatility. When choosing mutual fund managers, the firm looks for those with low fees, consistent performance (including superior performance in down markets) and low turnover.
When assembling clients' portfolios, the firm typically invests in a variety of mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), equities, corporate debt securities, U.S. government securities, municipal securities, certificates of deposit (CDs), money market funds, variable annuities, options contracts and partnerships in real estate, oil and gas interests. The firm also strives to provided advice that is tax efficient.
Blume Capital Management, Inc.
Second on our list is Blume Capital Management, which also happens to be the oldest of the seven firms profiled here. Three Blume Capital advisors have MBAs, while one is a certified financial planner (CFP). This is a fee-only firm, so clients don't have to worry about being charged commissions on the sale of third-party financial products.
Blume Capital primarily works with high-net-worth individuals, but its client base also includes individuals without a high net worth and one pooled investment vehicle. Blume Capital imposes a $2 million accout minimum and charges an asset-based fees for investment management. The firm may occassionally provide hourly or fixed-rate services to clients.
Blume Capital Management Background
Blume Capital was founded in 1994 by James B. Blume, who remains one of the firm's three principal owners. Blume began his career in the fincial services industry working on Wall Street but later became a clincal psychologist. He returned to the world of finance when he established Blume Capital in Berkeley.
CEO Jeffrey St. Claire and chief investment officer Peter Reidenbach also have ownership stakes in the firm. The advisory staff collectively has over 100 years of financial services industry experience.
Blume Capital offers investment management, financial planning, consulting and other miscellaneous services. Its financial planning offerings include:
- Retirement planning
- Estate planning and wealth transfer
- Tax planning
- Charitable gift planning
- Special needs/elder care planning
- Insurance planning and risk management
Blume Capital Management Investment Strategy
The investment philosophy at Blume Capital Management rests upon three core ideas:
- Long-term investing: The firm believes that by investing for the long term, predictability is increased, making it easier to reach your financial goals.
- Investing in equities with a focus on value: Equity investments have historically performed well over the long term, as compared to other securities.
- Strong diversification: By dividing your money between multiple asset classes, returns won't be overly dependent on a certain segment of the market. This can also help to mitigate volatility.
The firm generally invests in a wide range of securities. These include stocks, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), index funds, convertible stocks and bonds, warrants, rights, corporate bonds, municipal bonds, government bonds, variable annuities, as well as structured notes and bills.
Parkside Advisors, LLC
Parkside Advisors, the third highest-rated firm on our list, has a client base primarily composed of high-net-worth individuals despite not having an account minimum. Parkside also serves individuals and business entities.
There is one certified financial planner (CFP) on Parkside's advisory team. Parkside is a fee-only firm, meaning it earns revenue exclusively from client advisory fees. It does not receive any transaction-based fees.
Parkside Advisors Background
Parkside Advisors first opened its doors in 1996, making it the second-oldest firm on our list. Formerly known as Grubman Wealth Management, Parkside is currently owned by managing principals Charles Benziger and Audrey Grubman through their holding companies: Parkside Capital Advisors, LLC and Grubman Management, Inc. Both owners are also advisors at the firm.
Parkside specializes in providing investment management, financial planning and tax planning services to its clients. Financial planning services can cover stock option planning, cash flow management, insurance planning, estate planning and retirement planning.
Parkside Advisors Investment Strategy
Parkside Advisors typically constructs portfolios for its clients using index-linked exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and no-load mutual funds. For certain clients, the firm may also invest in individual stocks and bonds. Which securities will occupy a space in your portfolio depends on what kind of investor you are. To determine this, the firm will work with you to figure out your risk tolerance, time horizon, liquidity needs and overall investment objectives.
In order to finalize the specific investments your portfolio will incorporate, the firm uses multiple types of security analysis. When analyzing a potential fund, the firm examines a range of factors such as:
- Historical risk and return characteristics
- Exposure to sectors and individual issuers
- Fee structure
- An associated benchmark
Affinity Capital Advisors, LLC
Affinity Capital Advisors has the largest client base on this list, serving individuals, high-net-worth individuals, pensions and other retirement plans, charitable organizations and corporations. There is no minimum investable asset requirement for new client accounts.
Some advisors are licensed insurance agents and receive commissions in this capacity, making Affinity a fee-based firm. While this introduces the potential for conflicts of interests, the firm has a fiduciary duty to always act in its clients’ best interests.
Affinity Capital Advisors Background
Affinity Capital Advisors has been in business since 2013. The firm is principally owned by The SMK Trust (50%) and The Aschenberger Manzo Family Trust (50%).
Financial planning and portfolio management services are Affinity's bread and butter, but the firm also provides tax planning and preparation services, retirement plan consulting and referrals to third-party money managers.
Affinity Capital Advisors Investment Strategy
In most situations, Affinity recommends a portfolio consisting of individual stocks, bonds, ETFs, options, mutual funds and other public and private securities or investments. When analyzing potential securities, the firm employs both fundamental and technical analysis. Fundamental analysis involves examining key factors of a company or fund to gauge if the market is properly valuing it, while technical analysis is the practice of analyzing historical trends to predict future movements.
When it comes to the time horizon of your investments, Affinity utilizes both long- and short-term purchases. The former refers to keeping a security in your portfolio for a year or longer, whereas the short-term securities are held for under a year.
Topel & Distasi Wealth Management, LLC
Topel & Distasi Wealth Management, a fee-only firm, is next on our list of the top practices in Berkeley. Topel & Distasi primarily serves individuals and high-net-worth individuals. It's also open to working with charitable organizations, retirement plans, corporations and businesses. There is a $500,000 minimum for new clients receiving comprehensive portfolio management services at Topel & Distasi.
As a fee-only practice, the firm only collects client-paid fees, not sales commissions for selling third-party financial products and services. Fees that are charged to clients are assessed as a percentage of assets under management. The firm also offers financial planning and consulting services on an hourly or fixed fee basis.
Advisors at Topel & Distasi hold a combination of financial certifications, including the certified financial planner (CFP) and certified divorce financial analyst (CDFA) designations.
Topel & Distasi Wealth Management Background
Founded in 2013, Topel & Distasi registered as an investment advisor in 2017. The firm is owned by Gavin DiStasi and Jarrett Topel.
Topel & Distasi provides asset management, financial planning and consulting services. Financial planning services may encompass investment planning, retirement planning, estate planning, charitable giving, education planning, real estate analysis, corporate and personal tax planning, insurance analysis and other financial topics.
Topel & Distasi Wealth Management Investment Strategy
Topel & Distasi tailors its investment advice to the needs of individual clients. When designing an investment portfolio, the firm may allocate client assets to individual stocks, bonds, exchange-traded funds, options, mutual funds and other public and private securities/investments.
Portfolios are designed to meet a particular investment goal. Once the appropriate portfolio has been determined, portfolios are continuously and regularly monitored, and if necessary, rebalanced based upon the client’s individual needs, stated goals and objectives.
Elmwood Wealth Management, Inc.
Elmwood Wealth Management is a fee-only firm that mainly works with individual and high-net-worth individuals. As a fee-only firm, Elmwood Wealth Management generates revenue from client fees, including asset-based fees and fixed charges, but not commissions.
The firm does not require minimum account balances, instead it imposes minimum annual fees: $5,000 for full services, $3,000 for core services and $2,500 for fixed income investment management.
Elmwood Wealth Management has a certified financial planner (CFP) and a chartered financial analyst (CFA) on staff.
Elmwood Wealth Management Background
Elmwood Wealth Management was established in 2012 by financial advisors Bob Gillooly and Shannon Lemon, who remain the firm’s principal owners. The firm specializes in asset management and financial planning. Typical financial planning topics include cash flow and budgeting, college fund planning, retirement planning, asset allocation and investment planning, risk planning and estate planning.
Elmwood Wealth Management Investment Strategy
Elmwood Wealth Management begins each investment process by sitting down with the client and establishing key information like their investing goals, risk tolerance and time until retirement. From there, the firm will work to develop an asset allocation that best fits the client's goals, time horizon and risk tolerance. The firm may periodically rebalance your assets to keep the intended allocation intact.
The firm manages accounts that are weighted in equities, fixed income, and a mix of both. It employs a total return philosophy that leads porfolios to typically have income and growth components with assets invested in domestic and foreign equities, bonds, and even natural resources.
Willow Grove Advisors, LLC
The seventh and final firm on our list of the top financial advisors in Berkeley is Willow Grove Advisors, a fee-only practice. With an account minimum of $500,000, Willow Grove serves individuals with and without a high net worths. The firm did not have any institutional clients as of March 2022.
While advisors may be licensed insurance agents, they do not collect commissions when recommending insurance products. As a result, all of their compensation is derived from client-paid fees, making Willow Grove a fee-only outfit.
Willow Grove Advisors Background
Keley Petersen and Jeff Petersen founded the firm in 2009 and remain its principal owners. She has an MBA and previously worked at Deloitte & Touche, Hewins Financial Advisors and Contango Capital Advisors. Keley serves as president of the firm while Jeff serves as president of operations.
The firm primarily offers discretionary investment management services. It does not mention financial planning in its brochure, particularily in the fees section, though it did check it off on its Form ADV. Presumably, financial planning services are part of asset management.
Willow Grove Advisors Investment Strategy
When evaluating securities, Willow Grove generally applies fundamental and technical analysis. The firm may use exchange-listed and over-the counter securities foreign issues, warrants, corporate, municipal and U.S. government issued debt securities, as well as mutual funds.
Willow Grove may also utilize options contracts, ETFs, real estate investment parternships, venture capital, leveraged buyout funds, asset-backed structured securities, hedge funds and pooled investments.