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Bernicke 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.

Bernicke Wealth Management

Bernicke Wealth Management is a fee-based financial advisor firm that has nearly $250 million in assets under management (AUM). It has nine advisors on staff. As the firm’s name indicates, its services are focused around wealth management, although it also specializes in certain types of financial planning. Bernicke is based in Altoona, Wisconsin.

Bernicke Wealth Management Background

Bernicke Wealth Management was founded in 1985 by president and senior wealth manager Ty Bernicke, who still owns 100% of the firm’s shares. He has been featured on CNN and CNBC and by Forbes, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

Bernicke Wealth Management’s team includes three certified financial planners (CFP), two certified public accountants (CPA) and one certified specialist in estate planning (CSEP).

What Types of Clients Does Bernicke Wealth Management Accept?

Nearly 90% of Bernicke Wealth Management’s AUM belongs to individual clients in some capacity. This includes individuals both with and without a high net worth, as well as estates and trusts. The firm also has the resources to work with businesses and charitable organizations.

Bernicke Wealth Management Minimum Account Size

There is no minimum investment required to join Bernicke Wealth Management. However, this could change depending on the stipulations of any independent managers that you or the firm incorporate into your portfolio.

Services Offered by Bernicke Wealth Management

Bernicke Wealth Management provides many different advisory services in an effort to meet the needs of each of its clients. It offers everything from standard investment management to various financial planning services:

  • Personalized investment management
  • Wealth management
    • Discretionary and non-discretionary management
    • Long-term and short-term income planning
    • Risk management
    • Insurance analysis
    • Tax consulting and minimization
    • Estate planning
  • Divorce financial planning
    • Property valuation review
    • Coordination with outside financial professionals
    • Tax considerations
  • Organizational education services
    • Investment and retirement education seminars
  • Retirement plan consulting for employers
    • Determination of plan objectives
    • Plan designing
    • Education about fiduciary responsibility
  • Advising for ERISA plans
    • Customized discretionary and non-discretionary services

Bernicke Wealth Management Investment Philosophy

Bernicke Wealth Management follows a four-step program to build individualized portfolios and develop investment strategies for each of its clients. The program  begins with a full, in-depth analysis of your risk tolerance, time horizon, liquidity needs and financial goals. It will then match your characteristics to one of its portfolio models. Once you approve the firm’s recommendations, it will invest your assets.

Over time, each of the investment advisors at the firm will focus on the areas of clients’ accounts that they personally specialize in. Bernicke will rebalance your account in response to any shifts in the markets or changes to tax laws or regulations.

Fees Under Bernicke Wealth Management

Bernicke’s wealth management services are the most commonly used by its client base. The firm charges a wrap fee for this service, which means that all of your costs will be combined into one fee. However, the fee schedule that applies will depend on whether your assets are fully contained within the firm or if you choose to use independent managers.

The firm charges clients accounts quarterly. Your rate will based on the size of your account on the last day of the previous quarter.

Mixed Securities Portfolios Fees
Portfolio Value Annual Fee
First $500K 1.75%
Next $1.5MM 1.00%
Next $3MM 0.75%
Next $5MM 0.50%
Above $10MM 0.30%


Fees for Portfolios Managed by Independent Managers
Portfolio Value Annual Fee
First $500K 1.25%
Next $500K 0.90%
Next $1MM 0.80%
Next $8MM 0.65%
Above $10MM negotiable

Outside of the wrap fee program above, the firm has separate fee schedules for some of its other services. These include:

  • Divorce financial planning fees: The firm charges a fixed fee that ranges from $500 to $7,500. However, if your needs are determined to be limited, you may be eligible for lower rates.
  • Educational services fees: If services are intended for a university, they are offered for free. All other institutions may be charged as much as $100 per participant.
  • Retirement plan consulting fees: The firm does not release specific rates. However, it does specify that half of your charges will be due at the outset of your relationship with the firm and the remaining half will be owed once the services are complete.

Check out the table below to see how Bernicke’s fees for its wealth management services compare. 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 Bernicke Wealth Management Mixed Securities Portfolio National Median Advisory Fees**
$500K $8,750 $5,000
$1MM $13,750 $8,500 - $10,000
$5MM $46,250 $25,000 - $32,500
$10MM $71,250 $50,000

What to Watch Out For

Bernicke Wealth Management is a fee-based financial firm, which means the firm earns money outside of the fees that clients pay. At Bernicke, the firm and some of its advisors can earn additional compensation from the sale of certain insurance policies, securities and other investments. This presents a conflict of interest, as it could incentivize the firm to sell financial products for its own financial benefit. Bernicke is a registered investment advisor with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), though, meaning it’s bound by fiduciary duty to act in clients’ best interests.


Bernicke Wealth Management has no disciplinary or legal issues in its past.

Opening an Account With Bernicke Wealth Management

If you want to speak to an advisor, you can visit Bernicke Wealth Management’s sole location in Altoona, Wisconsin. You can also call the firm at (715) 832-1173 and set up an appointment.

Where Is Bernicke Wealth Management Located?

Bernicke Wealth Management has just one office, which is in Altoona, Wisconsin. The office is located at 1565 Bluestem Boulevard, right off of Highway 53 near Woodman’s Food Market.

Tips for a Successful Retirement

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How Long $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 the cost of living in retirement for that location.

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

Methodology We weighed potential expenditures for a prospective retiree with a  $1 million nest egg to assess how many years that fund would cover in retirement in America’s largest cities.

We 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 metro areas across the U.S.

We assumed the $1 million would grow at a net annual return of 2% after inflation. 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.