Finding a Top Financial Advisor Firm in Buffalo, New York
There are plenty of financial advisor firms in Buffalo, but it can be difficult to compare options and evaluate which firm will best suit your needs. That’s where SmartAsset comes in. We've layed out all the pertinent info on these advisors, including their investment approaches, expertise and minimum account sizes.
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|Rank||Financial Advisor||Assets Managed||Minimum Assets||Financial Services||More Information|
|1||Courier Capital Find an Advisor||$2,180,325,470||No set account minimum|| || |
Minimum AssetsNo set account minimum
|2||Sanderson Wealth Management, LLC Find an Advisor||$995,664,691||$500,000|| || |
|3||Sterling Investment Counsel, LLC Find an Advisor||$606,146,994||No set account minimum|| || |
Minimum AssetsNo set account minimum
|4||Hudson Advisor Services, Inc. Find an Advisor||$278,907,311||$1,000,000|| || |
|5||Miller, Gesko & Company, Inc. Find an Advisor||$165,936,783||$1,000,000|| || |
|6||Note Advisors, LLC Find an Advisor||$196,834,060||$500,000|| || |
|7||Winthrop Partners - WNY, LLC Find an Advisor||$152,151,060||No set account minimum|| || |
Minimum AssetsNo set account minimum
|8||Western New York Financial Group, LLC Find an Advisor||$72,691,522||$500,000|| || |
What We Use in Our Methodology
To find the top financial advisors in Buffalo, 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.
Courier Capital leads off our list of the top advisory firms in Buffalo. Founded in 1967, Courier Capital is the oldest firm on the list. The fee-only firm has multiple on-staff advisors and hundreds of client accounts. The firm isn’t exclusive, as it has no stated account minimums or minimum annual fees, and most of its clients are non-high-net-worth individuals.
The firm has offices in Buffalo and Jamestown. It offers investment management, retirement planning, individual financial planning and investment consulting.
Courier Capital Background
Courier Capital was founded in 1967 as Courier Capital Corporation. Now, the firm is an LLC and is owned by Financial Institutions, Inc. The company also owns Five Star Bank, a commercial and consumer bank, and SDN Insurance Agency, LLC. All of these institutions serve the western and central New York regions near Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse.
Thomas Hanlon is the president of Courier Capital. He has a number of credentials, including chartered financial analyst (CFA), certified financial planner (CFP) and certified employee benefits specialist (CEBS). He has an MBA in finance from SUNY Buffalo, and previously worked for M&T Bank and HSBC Bank.
Courier Capital Investment Strategy
When you work with Courier Capital, your advisor will create a tailored investment management solution. Your investment and financial objectives will be used to create your asset allocation. This allocation will include fixed income, domestic equities, foreign securities and alternative asset classes.
Your first few discussions with Courier Capital will help shape your client profile. This includes your investment objectives, risk tolerance, investment guidelines, time horizons and other relevant information. This information is used to create a portfolio that syncs with your objectives.
Courier Capital uses model portfolios. That means your profile will be matched with a pre-made asset model (conservative, moderate conservative, moderate, moderately aggressive or aggressive). High-net-worth clients may have a more tailored account and not see their portfolio in a model.
Sanderson Wealth Management
Sanderson Wealth Management comes up next on our list. Unlike Courier Capital, which has no account minimum, Sanderson Wealth Management requires at least $500,000 to become a client, though it may be willing to waive this requirement. The firm's client base is split evenly between individuals with and without a high net worth.
Sanderson has several on-staff advisors and was founded in 2001. The firm is fee-only, meaning it makes money solely from client-paid fees, avoiding all third-party commissions in the process.
Sanderson Wealth Management Background
John Sanderson founded the firm in 2001 and remains the majority owner. He is a certified public accountant (CPA) and also earned the designation of certified investment management analyst (CIMA). Before creating the firm, Sanderson spent 27 years at Ernst & Young, one of the largest accounting firms in the world. A graduate of Niagara University, Sanderson is a lifelong resident of western New York.
Sanderson Wealth Management Investment Strategy
Wealth management specialists at Sanderson Wealth use a five-step process with clients. First, they’ll analyze your current position and future needs. Next is your investment policy statement. This is built on your time horizon, risk tolerance, cash-flow needs and other relevant personal financial information. The firm is a follower of the popular "modern portfolio theory," which heavily emphasizes balancing risk and maximizing returns through asset allocations.
Step three entails determining your asset allocation. The company categorizes investments into three buckets: core bonds and cash, global stocks and non-traditional assets. After that, your specialist will select managers and implement your personal investment strategy. The last step is ongoing portfolio monitoring, reporting and rebalancing.
Sterling Investment Counsel
This fee-based firm is one of the youngest on our list, having formed in just 2016. Sterling Investment Counsel (SIC) has several advisors managing hundreds of accounts. The firm has hundreds of millions in assets under management and has no required minimum to become a client.
Many of the firm’s client base are individuals below the high-net-worth mark. The company offers portfolio management and financial planning to individuals with and without a high net worth, businesses, retirement plans and charitable organizations. Despite being a fee-based firm that can receive commissions, it's still a fiduciary that's legally obligated to act in the best interests of clients at all times.
Sterling Investment Counsel Background
The principal owners of Sterling Investment Counsel are Christopher Michael Marks, Cynthia Eileen Vance, Philip Kenneth Vance and John Lawrence Langer. Cynthia Vance serves as the CEO of the firm and has around 40 years' experience in the financial services industry. She is also a certified financial planner (CFP), chartered financial consultant (ChFC), accredited investment fiduciary (AIF) and has an MBA from Xavier University and a J.D. from SUNY Buffalo School of Law.
Christopher Marks is the chief compliance officer (CCO) and a founding partner of the firm, along with Vance. He too has a J.D. and MBA. Marks has more than 20 years of industry experience.
Sterling Investment Counsel Investment Strategy
Sterling Investment Counsel is a follower of modern portfolio theory, a theory developed by Harry Markowitz and used by many investment managers and advisors. The emphasis is to maximize portfolio expected returns for the given amount of portfolio risk by choosing proportions of various asset classes. SIC usually advises clients on mutual funds, fixed-income securities, real estate funds, equities, ETFs, treasury inflation protected/inflation linked bonds and non-U.S. securities.
Sterling Investment Counsel uses charting analysis and fundamental analysis to evaluate securities. Charting analysis is the study of patterns in performance charts to help find ideal times to buy or sell a security. Fundamental analysis involves considering a company’s financial health and management situation.
Hudson Advisor Services
Hudson Advisors Services is an advisory firm that works mainly with individuals above and below the high-net-worth threshold, although it also offers services to pension plans, government entities and businesses.
The firm requires new clients to have at least $1 million in investable assets, although the firm can waive this minimum at its discretion. Hudson Advisors is a fee-only firm, so advisors don't receive third-party commissions.
Hudson Advisor Services Background
Hudson Advisor Services, in its current form, was founded in 1997. Its founder and CEO, William N. Hudson, previously operated as a sole proprietorship from 1994 to 1997. Hudson is the principal owner of the firm along with Frances Miley.
Hudson Advisor Services provides comprehensive investment management services to its clients, which can include record keeping, tax services, asset management and selecting independent money managers. The firm can also provide special services such as managing tax-deferred plans, engaging with real estate agents and other specific issues the client needs addressed.
Hudson Advisors Services Investment Strategy
Hudson Advisor Services primarily employs fundamental analysis when it comes to evaluating securities, although it may use technical and cyclical analysis when it deems such methods appropriate. Fundamental analysis is the attempt to discern a company’s intrinsic economic value rather than focusing only on the movement of its stock price.
The firm typically recommends investing in domestic and foreign equity, corporate debt securities, certificates of deposit (CD), municipal and government securities, mutual funds, options, warrants and commercial paper. Alternative investments such as commodities, futures, hedge funds, private equity and venture capital investments are less common, but the firm may recommend them in some situations.
Miller, Gesko & Company
Miller, Gesko & Company is the next firm on our list, and it has a $1 million minimum investment to become a client. Despite this fairly high minimum, around half of the firm's clients are non-high-net-worth individuals. The rest are high-net-worth individuals, retirement plans and charities.
Founded in 1986, Miller, Gesko & Company is a fee-only firm, meaning it doesn't earn income from additional sources beyond management fees. The firm has a small team of advisors and is located downtown on Main Street near the Buffalo Bisons baseball field.
Miller, Gesko & Company Background
Robert Miller, Jr. and Paul Gesko founded the firm and remain the primary owners. Gesko is the president of the firm and a member of the firm’s investment committee. He manages the Florida office. Gesko founded the original company behind the current firm in 1969 and has been in financial services ever since.
Miller is the vice president and head of operations and management. He joined the firm in 1999 after services as a retirement planning specialist. He is a certified financial planner (CFP).
Miller, Gesko & Company Investment Strategy
Fundamental analysis is the method of choice at Miller, Gesko for evaluating securities. This type of analysis focuses on a company’s fundamentals, such as management, financials and more.
The firm generally will offer you advice on the following types of securities: exchange-traded funds (ETFs), warrants, domestic and foreign equity securities, commercial paper, corporate debt securities, certificates of deposit, municipal and U.S. government securities, mutual funds, options and master limited partnerships.
Note Advisors is a fairly young firm, and is also quite small. It works mainly with individual clients, the majority of which are non-high-net-worth individuals. It also works with some high-net-worth individuals, though. The firm has a $500,000 minimum account size requirement, though it may be willing to waive it under certain circumstances.
Note is a fee-based firm. This means that there is a potential conflict of interest that arises from the fact that advisors can receive commissions from selling financial products to clients. However, the firm is still a fiduciary. This makes it legally obligated to act in the best interests of clients at all times.
Note Advisors Background
Note Advisors was founded in 2014. It became an SEC-registered investment advisor the same year, and has been in business ever since. The firm is principally owned by Shawn Glogowski and Thomas Waring.
Note advisors provides clients with both financial planning services and investment portfolio management services, both on a comprehensive basis. The firm particularly looks to help those who own small businesses get their finances in order. Assets are primarily managed on a discretionary basis.
Note Advisors Investment Strategy
While smaller accounts held as Note Advisors may be managed using a robo advisor service called Note Advisors Direct, larger accounts are managed on an individualized basis. Advisors meet with new and existing clients to best determine their investment needs and financial situations. From there, they can develop tailored investment plans.
Advisors at Note may invest in a wide range of different securities.
Formed in 2015, Winthrop Partners comes in next on our Buffalo list. The firm employs advisors with such certifications as certified financial planner (CFP), chartered financial consultant (ChFC) and chartered financial analyst (CFA).
The firm has no requirement for minimum assets, and almost 75% of its clients are non-high-net-worth individuals. The company is fee-only, so there's no conflict of interest that might arise due to advisors receiving sales commissions from third parties.
Winthrop Partners Background
Winthrop Partners was founded in 2015, and its principals are Thomas J. Saunders, R. Brian Werner and Ryan J. Carney. Saunders and Werner also act as managing members of the firm.
The firm offers financial planning and consulting services as well as investment management services. Financial planning services can cover cash flow analysis, retirement income needs, college funding, retirement travel, savings and survivor needs, among other matters.
Winthrop Partners Investment Strategy
Winthrop Partners approaches its construction of client portfolios by starting with asset allocation. The firm seeks to develop a broad asset allocation that's in line with a client's inevstment objectives, risk tolerance and time horizon. Then, relying on fundamental analysis as well as screening from external sources such as Credit Suisse and Raymond James, the firm selects an appropriate mix of large cap securites that fit the client's situation.
The firm invests most frequently in large cap stocks and bonds, and it also uses mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) to gain access to different asset classes and industry sectors.
Western New York Financial Group
The final firm on our list is fee-based firm Western New York Financial Group (WNYFG). This investment advisory firm works with non-high-net-worth individuals, pension and profit sharing plans and banks.
For its advisory fees, WNYFG charges asset-based fees, hourly fees and fixed fees. The firm requires that all clients meet a minimum account size of $500,000 before establishing an advisory relationship, though it may be willing to waive this stipulation. As a fee-based firm, advisors may receive commissions from insurance sales. However, the firm is still a fiduciary and is therefore legally obligated to act in the best interests of clients at all times.
Western New York Financial Group Background
Founded by Michael Aquino, WNYFG began its operations in 2019. It registered with the SEC as an investment advisor in the same year. Mark Narby is also the firm’s co-owner, as of 2020. As for advisory services, WNYFG provides portfolio management, financial planning, advisor selection and pension consulting services.
Western New York Financial Group Investment Strategy
When making investment decisions, WNYFG says it uses technical analysis to evaluate market statistics such as price and volume, according to its firm brochure. As for investment recommendations, WNYFG’s Form ADV shows that it mainly allocates client assets among exchange-traded equity securities and cash and cash equivalents.