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Bernhardt Wealth Management Review

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Bernhardt Wealth Management

Fee-only Bernhardt Wealth Management, Inc. (BWM) is a financial advisor firm in McLean, Virginia with more than $426 million in assets under management (AUM). The firm has been in business for 25 years and specializes in strategic investment management and wealth management. The team of advisors at Bernhardt is seven members strong.

Bernhardt Wealth Management Background

Bernhardt Wealth Management was founded in 1994 by Gordon Bernhardt, the firm’s president. Gordon Bernhardt served as a certified public accountant (CPA) for PriceWaterhouseCoopers prior to creating BWM. In total, he’s worked in the financial services industry for 30 years.

At Bernhardt Wealth Management, you’ll find seven certified financial planners (CFPs), one accredited investment fiduciary (AIF), one accredited asset management specialist (AAMS), one certified divorce financial analyst (CDFA) and one CPA.

What Types of Clients Does Bernhardt Wealth Management Accept?

Individuals, high-net-worth individuals, estates, trusts, pension plans, profit-sharing plans, ERISA accounts and small businesses make up the client base at Bernhardt Wealth Management.

Bernhardt Wealth Management Minimum Account Size

Prospective clients of Bernhardt Wealth Management are subject to a $1 million minimum account size. At a smaller level, the firm institutes a minimum quarterly fee of $2,500.

Services Offered by Bernhardt Wealth Management

Bernhardt Wealth Management offers wealth management and financial planning services, but investment management is its focus. Here’s a breakdown of its offerings:

  • Strategic investment management
    • Investment plan design
    • Investment implementation
    • Quarterly reporting
    • Portfolio optimization
  • Wealth management
    • Portfolio management
    • Tax planning
    • Education planning
    • Insurance planning
    • Retirement planning
    • Estate planning
    • Philanthropic planning

Bernhardt Wealth Management Investment Philosophy

Long-term investing and financial planning is the central focus at Bernhardt Wealth Management. However, when you first become a client, your advisor will evaluate your short-term liquidity needs as well as your existing savings. Based on this and your risk tolerance, the firm will create an investment plan that’s aimed at meeting your ultimate financial goals.

BWM uses a wide range of investment types so that it can meet the needs of all of its clients. Principal among its investment recommendations are no-load mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), bonds, index funds, variable annuities, short-term paper and mortgage-backed securities (MBS). Notably missing from this list are stocks. To work equities into your portfolio, the firm will invest in equity-centric mutual funds.

Fees Under Bernhardt Wealth Management

The investment management and ERISA plan sponsored services at Bernhardt Wealth Management operate on a sliding, asset-based fee schedule. Although these rates are shown in annual percentages, BWM divides them up into quarterly payments. These are charged in advance either directly from your account or through a separate billing arrangement.

Strategic Investment Management Fees
Assets Under Management Annual Fee
First $1MM 1.00%
Next $2MM 0.75%
Next $2MM 0.50%
Next $5MM 0.35%
Over $10MM 0.20%

 

Fees for ERISA Plan Sponsored Services
Market Value of Included Assets Annual Fee
First $3MM 0.75%
Next $2MM 0.50%
Next $5MM 0.40%
Next $10MM 0.30%
Over $20MM 0.20%

Financial planning and consulting clients abide by different fee schedules. If you want a financial plan, you’ll need to pay a $1,500 to $5,000 fixed fee depending on the complexity of your situation. Consulting clients receive an hourly rate of $300. According to BWM, fixed fees are split into two payments, while all hourly fees are billed in arrears.

Check out the table below to see how Bernhardt’s fees for its management services compare to those at similar financial advisor firms. Note that these fees are only estimates and actual costs may vary.

*Fee estimates only consider the maximum base fees for the services each firm provides. You may also pay manager fees and other fees, which can vary in amount. **All figures are based on median fee levels according to Bob Veres' 2017 Planning Profession Fee Survey. The above estimates solely take into account AUM-only fees. Total costs will likely be higher due to additional expenses.
Estimated Fee Comparison*
Your Assets Bernhardt Wealth Management Strategic Investment Management Fees National Median Advisory Fees**
$500K $5,000 $5,000
$1MM $10,000 $8,500 - $10,000
$5MM $35,000 $25,000 - $32,500
$10MM $52,500 $50,000

What to Watch Out For

Bernhardt Wealth Management uses TD Ameritrade for its custody and brokerage services. Because of this, Bernhardt receives discounts on various compliance, research, technology and marketing products and services from TD.

In its SEC paperwork, BWM states the following: “Some of the products and services made available by TD Ameritrade through the program may benefit BWM but may not benefit its client accounts.” Although this represents a conflict of interest, the firm is a fiduciary and is therefore legally bound to act in clients’ best interests at all time.

Disclosures

Bernhardt Wealth Management has a clean legal and regulatory record according to its Form ADV.

Opening an Account With Bernhardt Wealth Management

To start an advisory relationship with BWM, you can call (703) 356-4380 or send an email to gordon@BernhardtWealth.com. If you’d prefer to have an advisor reach out to you, take a few minutes to fill out the firm’s online contact form.

Where Is Bernhardt Wealth Management Located?

McLean, Virginia is home to Bernhardt Wealth Management. Its office is located at 7601 Lewinsville Road, Suite 210.

Tips for Planning Your Retirement

  • When creating a roadmap to save for your retirement, don’t forget to take into account Social Security. While it would be difficult for anyone to live solely on these payments, tacking them onto your existing savings can be valuable. To figure out exactly what you can expect, visit SmartAsset’s Social Security calculator.
  • There’s no shame in looking for help when planning for something as important as your retirement. Being that retiring is a bona fide milestone in most Americans’ lives, financial advisors often provide retirement planning services. If you’re interested in these, the SmartAsset financial advisor matching tool can pair you up with as many as three advisors in your area. Given that your answers to a short questionnaire dictate what matches you receive, make sure to be as accurate as possible.

How Many Years $1 Million 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 cost of living in retirement there.

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

Methodology SmartAsset calculated the average cost of living for retirees in the largest U.S. cities. Using that calculation, we determined how many years $1 million would last in retirement in each major city.

First, we looked at data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on the average annual expenditures of seniors throughout the country. 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.

We assumed the $1 million would grow at a real return (interest minus inflation) of 2%, reflecting the typical return on a conservative investment portfolio. Finally, we divided $1 million by the sum of each of those annual numbers to determine how long $1 million would last in each of the cities in our study.

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