Finding a Top Financial Advisor Firm in California
Finding a quality financial advisor is important if you want to make sure you and your family are secure for the long run. But choosing a financial advisor firm in California can be a difficult task, given the size of the state and the sheer number of options out there. You want to make the right choice, finding a financial advisor firm that’s suits your unique financial situation. This list presents the top financial advisor firms in California, with details on the firms’ account minimums, areas of expertise and investment strategies provided in tables and reviews. You can also use the SmartAsset’s financial advisor matching tool to find the right advisor near you.
|Rank||Financial Advisor||Assets Managed||Minimum Assets||Financial Services||More Information|
|1||Schwab Private Client Investment Advisory, Inc. Find an Advisor||$90,026,786,000||$500,000|| || |
|2||Kayne Anderson Rudnick Investment Management, LLC Find an Advisor||$18,900,328,633|| |
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|3||Aspiriant, LLC Find an Advisor||$12,213,732,000|| |
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|4||Personal Capital Advisors Corporation, LLC Find an Advisor||$6,489,032,000||$100,000|| || |
|5||SEIA Find an Advisor||$5,826,012,000||$250,000|| || |
|6||Churchill Management Group Find an Advisor||$5,373,123,473|| |
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|7||Scharf Investments, LLC Find an Advisor||$4,993,817,000||Varies based on account type|| || |
Minimum AssetsVaries based on account type
|8||Wetherby Asset Management Find an Advisor||$4,715,198,882|| |
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|9||Seven Post Investment Office LP Find an Advisor||$4,672,498,001|| |
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|10||Hewins Financial Advisors, LLC Find an Advisor||$4,398,620,000||None|| || |
How We Found the Top Financial Advisor Firms in California
First, we made a list of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)-registered firms in California, as these firms are bound by fiduciary duty to act in clients’ best interest. Then we eliminated any firms that have had disclosures, don’t have financial planners or don’t manage individual accounts. Below are the top 10 firms that made this list, sorted by total assets under management, from highest to lowest.
Schwab Private Client Investment Advisory, Inc.
Schwab Private Client Investment Advisory, Inc. has more than $90 billion in assets under management (AUM), more than five times the total AUM of the next biggest firm on this list. This firm is part of Charles Schwab, a global bank that offers myriad financial services. It has 598 advisors on staff.
The firm has an account minimum of $500,000. Schwab works with both individuals and high-net-worth individuals. A fee-based firm, Schwab Private Client Investment Advisory is paid by the broader Charles Schwab company for advisory services, and it may also be paid for broker-dealer services. The firm is a fiduciary though, requiring it to always act in clients’ best interests.
Schwab Private Client Investment Advisory, Inc. Background
This is the private investment management wing of Charles Schwab, a bank and investment firm founded in 1971 by Charles R. Schwab, who still serves as the chairman of the company. The company’s advisory business was founded in 2012.
In addition to wealth management, the firm has a platform for trading individual stocks and offers banking services. The company has 345 branches in 48 states, plus D.C. and Puerto Rico.
Schwab Private Client Investment Advisory, Inc. Investing Strategy
Schwab Private Client Investment Advisory, Inc. prides itself on offering clients an entire advisory team rather than simply matching them up with an individual advisor. Investors are assigned a financial consultant, a portfolio consultant and an associate portfolio consultant.
The firm looks to blend growth and income in client portfolios, while taking into account each investor’s risk tolerance and financial goals. Schwab also notes that it is “rethinking asset allocation,” supposing that the traditional trio of stocks, bonds and cash is insufficient in the modern era. The firm say it’s thinking about how these three asset classes work together and also considering the advantages of investing in commodities.
Kayne Anderson Rudnick Investment Management, LLC
Kayne Anderson Rudnick Investment Management, LLC (KAR) provides investment and wealth management services to clients with at least $1 million in investable assets. KAR works primarily with high-net-worth individuals, though it does have other individual clients. The firm also offers wealth management and support to businesses.
With a staff of 13 advisors, the firm says it focuses on the “preservation of wealth and innovative ideas, an embrace of meticulous research and a dedicated focus on quality in business practices and investment strategies,” which are the principles set out by its founders. There are seven certified financial planners (CFPs), 16 chartered financial analysts (CFAs), two certified private wealth advisors (CPWAs), one certified trust and financial advisor (CTFA), one certified public accountant (CPA) and one certified divorce financial analyst (CDFA) on staff. It is a fee-only firm that charges fees based on a percentage of assets under management, as well as performance-based fees.
Kayne Anderson Rudnick Investment Management, LLC Background
Kayne Anderson Rudnick Investment Management, LLC has been a registered investment advisory firm since 1985. It was founded by Richard Kayne and John Anderson. The company started providing traditional investment management in 1989, when Allan Rudnick joined the firm. The named partners no longer work at the firm, which was sold in 2001 to Phoenix companies.
In addition to investing services, KAR offers wealth management, consulting and executive services. The firm also provides white papers and commentaries, and it has a podcast called Kaynecast. Recent episodes have explored market themes and reviewed some of the firm’s portfolios.
Kayne Anderson Rudnick Investment Management, LLC Investing Strategy
Kayne Anderson Rudnick Investment Management offers a variety of investment strategies, with a focus on finding quality investments. It says it manages risk by focusing on investing in companies with “strong market positions and little-to-no debt.” It seeks durable earnings growth and a high return on capital.
The firm invests in small-cap, mid-cap and large-cap companies. It also uses international and long-short investment options.
Aspiriant is a national financial advisor firm with headquarters in Los Angeles and offices in other major cities including San Francisco and New York. It does not have an absolute minimum for clients to open or maintain an account, but it tends to advise clients with at least $1.5 million available to invest. The firm’s client base is a majority high-net-worth individuals.
The fee-only firm has 86 advisors on staff. Its team includes 12 certified public accountants (CPAs), 12 chartered financial analysts (CFAs), six certified investment management analysts (CIMAs), one certified private wealth advisor (CPWA) and one certified divorce financial analyst (CDFA).
Aspiriant, LLC Background
Aspiriant was founded in 2008. It was born out of two California firms: Quintile and Kochis Fitz. The firm uses a distributed ownership model to keep its goals in line with clients’ goals. More than 30% of Aspiriant’s employees have an ownership interest in the firm, which is owned by a holding company.
Aspiriant offers wealth planning, investing and family office services. The firm can also help with things like buying a house and saving to put kids through college.
Aspiriant, LLC Investing Strategy
Aspiriant’s advisors offer complete customization for clients. Each investor gets to pick his or her own investment blend. The company is forward-looking, as it tries to predict what the market will look like in 10 years and incorporate those projections into a client’s portfolio.
The firm invests in bonds, real estate, global public equity, private equity, hedge funds and commodities. Advisors consider clients’ risk tolerance, personal goals and financial situation to figure out each client’s strategy.
Personal Capital Advisors Corporation, LLC
Personal Capital Advisors Corporation, LLC, based in San Carlos, is the Silicon Valley answer to investment advisory firms. The firm has a low account minimum of just $100,000, opening the door to potential clients who may be just getting started in their careers but still want to start planning for their futures. The company works mainly with individuals, though it does have some high-net-worth clients.
The fee-only firm says it focuses on avoiding hidden fees and being as transparent as possible with clients. The management team includes four certified financial planners (CFPs).
Personal Capital Advisors Corporation Background
Personal Capital Advisors Corporation was founded in 2010 by Silicon Valley veteran Bill Harris, who previously served as the CEO of PayPal and Intuit. The company’s board of advisors includes Shlomo Benartzi, a behavioral finance expert who developed many theories of why people act the way they do with their money. The company is privately owned.
Other services offered by the firm include home financing, estate planning and retirement planning. Personal Capital was founded to bring technological expertise to the financial management space, which is evident in its suite of mobile tools. Clients can access their account using Personal Capital’s mobile app.
Personal Capital Advisors Corporation Investing Strategy
Personal Capital Advisors Corporation focuses on holistic financial planning, looking at a client’s entire financial life rather than only paying attention to what is in their portfolio. The firm calibrates risk based on a client’s preferences and situation, and it focuses on avoiding fees and optimizing a client’s tax situation. Advice is available over the phone, by web conference and by email.
The firm invests globally, primarily in exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and individual securities. It seeks to expose portfolios to all segments of the U.S. stock market but tries to avoid being too exposed to any one sector.
SEIA is a full-service wealth management firm based in Los Angeles. It also offers tax services and estate planning. The fee-only firm advises clients who have at least $250,000. It works with both individuals and high-net-worth individuals, though it serves more than twice as many high-net-worth clients. Its client base also includes pension and profit-sharing plans, charitable organizations and corporations.
On the advisory team there are 25 certified financial planners (CFPs), two chartered financial analysts (CFA), 21 accredited investment fiduciaries (AIFs), seven chartered mutual fund counselors (CMFCs) and three chartered financial consultants (ChFCs).
SEIA was founded in 1997 by four partners, one of whom still serves as the company’s president. It has five offices in California plus one in Virginia. Assets with SEIA are custodied at Charles Schwab and Fidelity.
The firm emphasizes charitable giving as a pillar of its business, and it uses the firm’s resources to support children’s causes, especially around its home in Southern California. It provides planning for a client’s entire financial life, including tax planning and retirement savings. It can also help clients to manage risk by finding life insurance solutions if desired.
SEIA Investing Strategy
SEIA offers strategic, tactical and dynamic asset allocation. Additionally, it provides socially responsible investing as defined by individual clients.
The firm’s “Signature Elite” strategy has six steps: determining needs and objectives, assessing risk tolerance, reviewing asset allocation, implementing a strategic plan, rebalancing and monitoring the portfolio and reporting results. The firm has several strategies for investing, each using some combination of mutual funds, ETFs, individual bonds and individual stocks.
Churchill Management Group
Churchill Management Group is a fee-only advisory firm located in Los Angeles. The firm has more than $5 million in assets under management and employs 36 advisors, including four certified financial planners (CFPs).
Churchill Management Group serves clients with at least $500,000 in investable assets. Around two-thirds of the firm’s clients are high-net-worth individuals.
Churchill Management Group Background
Founded in 1963, Churchill Management Group is the oldest firm on this list. It prominently cites its experience in navigating decades of market turbulence as one of the chief assets it offers clients. Fred Fern, founder of the firm, is still the president and CEO. He is also the firm’s controlling owner.
The firm also advises on retirement plans. Its other services include net worth analysis, Social Security analysis, tax review and planning to save for education.
Churchill Management Group Investing Strategy
Churchill Management Group says it aims to invest in companies with “strong competitive positions.” It has multiple investment strategies including Premier Wealth Tactical, Maximum Growth Tactical and Tactical Opportunities.
Premier Wealth Tactical’s strategy is described as “earnings-growth driven.” Maximum Growth Tactical is more aggressive, while Tactical Opportunity looks for individual stocks to provide short-term growth. The firm typically invests in individual securities, mutual funds and ETFs.
Wetherby Asset Management
Scharf Investments, LLC is a fee-only advisory firm based in Scotts Valley. It has nearly $5 million in assets under management and employs 14 advisors. There are two certified financial planners (CFPs) and six chartered financial analysts (CFAs) on the Scharf team.
The minimum investment is $500,000 for mutual fund allocation and $1 million for separate accounts. The firm works only with high-net-worth individuals. It also advises some investment companies, pension plans, investment advisors and corporations.
Scharf Investments, LLC Background
Founded in 1983, Scharf began by offering active portfolio management. In 2002, the firm launched its investing team and by 2009 it was also offering services to institutional clients. The employee-owned firm is active in philanthropic causes throughout the Monterey Bay area, including supporting the local Boys and Girls Club.
Services offered by the firm include financial planning, tax planning and estate planning. It also manages mutual funds.
Scharf Investments, LLC Investing Strategy
Scharf invests in various industries, market caps and countries. It values flexibility and selects its investments to minimize losses when the markets do end up falling. The firm keeps a long-term perspective to maximize client value.
Scharf also has four mutual funds that clients have the option of investing in. These use many of the same principles for investing that the management team uses.
Wetherby Asset Management
Though it is a small, family-owned company, Wetherby Asset Management has $4.7 billion in assets under management (AUM). It has offices in San Francisco and New York. The firm caters to wealthy investors, requiring a minimum investment of $10 million.
Wetherby is a fee-only firm employing 33 advisors. Its team includes 11 chartered financial analysts (CFAs), four certified private wealth advisors (CPWAs), one financial services certified professional (FSCP) and one investment advisor certified compliance professional (IACCP).
Notably, the firm was on Forbes’ list of best advisors in both 2016 and 2017.
Wetherby Asset Management Background
Wetherby was founded in 1990 by Deb Wetherby, who remains the firm’s CEO. She founded the firm with the idea of combining Wall Street’s investment expertise with an accountant’s attention to detail and personal connection. The firm is owned by 20 individuals, four of whom are non-employees.
The firm’s basic services are investment and wealth management. This includes cash flow analysis, tax planning, estate planning and education analysis.
Wetherby Asset Management Investing Strategy
Wetherby Asset Management’s asset strategy emphasizes patience and long-term investing. Low volatility is preferred to smooth out market downturns. Advisors pay attention to active managers’ records to decide which funds to invest in.
Mutual funds are the most common asset for Wetherby clients. ETFs, individual equities and fixed income investments are also sometimes used.
Seven Post Investment Office LP
Seven Post is a fee-only financial advisor firm focused on ultra-high-net-worth individuals. The firm requires a minimum investment of $50 million, though it generally works with accounts worth at least $100 million.
The firm’s minimum asset floors ensure that it is only working with a certain type of client, those with a lot of wealth who need help managing it. Fees are based on assets under management, and no commissions are paid for investing in any individual product.
Seven Post Investment Office LP Background
Seven Post was founded in 2011. The firm’s managing general partner is BlackOak GP, LLC. The firm is privately and entirely owned by its managing directors and principles, and completely independent of other financial institutions.
Services offered by the firm include tax planning and estate planning.
Seven Post Investment Office LP Investing Strategy
Seven Post Investment Office LP seeks to work with fund managers who have a committed investment philosophy and industry expertise. It seeks to keep the total number of fund managers it works with low. The firm focuses on multi-asset, diversified portfolios and considers co-investment a “core tenant.”
Asset classes the firm uses include stocks, bonds and mutual funds. If the client has the goal of socially conscious investing, the advisors can create their portfolio with that in mind.
Hewins Financial Advisors, LLC
Hewins Financial Advisors is a fee-based financial advisor firm based in Redwood City. It is unique on our list in that it has no account minimum, so even beginner investors can use its services. The firm does have a minimum yearly fee of $5,000 though, so you’ll have to make sure you’re investing enough to make it worth it to pay at least that fee. In addition, advisors earn commissions for sales of financial products, including insurance. However, like all the firm on this list, it is a fiduciary, meaning it is required to always act in clients’ best interests.
The firm has 23 certified financial planners (CFPs), five chartered financial analysts (CFAs) and 12 certified public accountants (CPAs) on staff.
Hewins Financial Advisors, LLC Background
Hewins Financial Advisors, LLC was founded in 1999 to bring a “CPA-based” approach to financial management. Its goal from the start was to provide a holistic approach to advising, focusing on a client’s life beyond just portfolio management. The firm is owned by accounting firm Wipfli LLP, founder Roger Hewins, and several other senior managers of the advisory firm.
Services offered include retirement advising, tax planning and estate planning. Hewins also offers webinars, videos and blogs to educate clients about its strategies and broader financial trends. It also publishes regular market updates and clients letters on its website.
Hewins Financial Advisors, LLC Investing Strategy
There are four key tenets to the Hewins Financial Advisors’ investing strategy: broad diversification, academic research, tax awareness and cost efficiency. The firm prefers broad diversification to avoid playing the investment guessing game.
Mutual funds are the most commonly used investment in client portfolios. Private investment accounts could also be used, depending on a client's goals and risk tolerance.