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Carson Wealth Management Review

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Carson Wealth

Carson Wealth is a registered investment advisor that's based in Omaha, Nebraska, and has locations across the U.S. The firm, which is registered with the SEC under the name CWM, LLC, currently has $5.1 billion in assets under management. Its team of financial advisors provides investment management services, as well as financial planning and investment advice. Its client base includes individuals, high-net-worth families, foundations, endowments and institutional investors.

Carson Wealth Background

Carson Wealth was formed in 2010. It's wholly owned by Carson Group Holdings, LLC, which is majority held by Ron Carson. Carson is the the CEO and founder of Carson Group, and he has repeatedly been named a top advisor by Forbes, FinancialTimes, WealthManagement.com and Barron's.

Carson Wealth is one of three companies that comprises Carson Wealth Management Group. The other companies are Carson Group Coaching, a coaching program for wealth management firms, and Carson Group Partners, a program designed to help financial advisors grow their businesses. Carson Wealth is the division that provides wealth management to investors.

Carson Wealth is one of several names the division does business as. The firm has a number of partner offices that provide advisory services under different local business names.

What Types of Clients Does Carson Wealth Accept?

Carson Wealth is capable of working with individuals and high-net-worth individuals. It also serves pension and profit-sharing plans, trusts, estates, 401(k) sponsor plans, individual retirement accounts, charitable organizations, corporations and other business entities.

Carson Wealth Minimum Account Sizes

Carson's account minimums vary based on the investment strategy, of which there are more  than 20. The lowest account minimum required to open or maintain an account is $5,000 and the highest is $250,000.

Services Offered by Carson Wealth

Carson says its primary focus is managing its clients' investment portfolios. The firm provides asset management services on a discretionary basis through both wrap fee and non-wrap fee programs. It creates personalized investment plans based on clients' financial goals, risk tolerance and needs.

In addition, it offers the following services:

  • Financial planning
    • Focused Wealth Planning Program: for clients who don't need a full analysis of their financial situation
    • Traditional financial planning services: determines short-term objectives based on long-term goals
    • True Wealth Plans: a more robust service that includes retirement planning, education planning, planning for major purchases, life and disability insurance needs, long-term care needs and estate planning
  • Risk management
  • Estate planning
  • Tax planning 
  • Private trust services

Carson Wealth Investment Philosophy

The foundation of Carson Wealth's investment managed process is disciplined investment strategies. Carson offers its clients more than 20 proprietary investment strategies, which fall into one of six categories:

  • Irreplaceable Capital
  • Model
  • Yield
  • Growth
  • Specialty Strategies
  • Allocate

The firm aims to strike a balance between risk and reward by allocating clients' assets among its model portfolios. Clients are assigned a personalized allocation of investment strategies based on their objectives, time horizon and Family Index Number, which Carson defines as "the rate of return needed to pursue your goals." The firm's Investment Committee, which is made up of portfolio managers and fundamental and technical analysts and strategists, is responsible for actively managing the firm's "process-driven" strategies.

Fees Under Carson Wealth

Asset Management Fees

Carson Wealth charges clients for its asset management services based on a percentage of assets under management. The annual fee is based on household accounts, or the aggregate client assets under management, and it's paid quarterly, in advance. This asset-based fee can range up to a maximum of 2.50%.

Carson notes that fees are negotiable based on a variety of factors, including the representative managing the portfolio and the account's market value, complexity, asset types and level of trading activity. Investment advisor representatives may charge different fee rates for comparable services.

Financial Planning Fees

Carson's financial planning fees vary depending on which level of financial planning services a client selects. For traditional financial planning, Carson charges hourly or fixed fees. Hourly fees can range up to $500 an hour, depending on how complex a client's situation is. The minimum fixed fee is $500 and the maximum is $250,00, or more if a situation is particularly complex. Carson will provide clients either an estimate of the number of hours required to complete the service or the amount of the fixed fee will be specified in the financial planning agreement.

For True Wealth Financial Planning Program, Carson's most robust financial planning service, clients will be charged a one-time fee of 0.20% of the financial plan's total assets. However, clients who transfer assets to the firm to also receive investment advisory services within six months of the financial planning process will pay only 0.10% of the financial plan's total assets. The minimum fee is $3,500.

Focused Wealth Planning Program, Carson's most basic financial planning program, is offered to the firm's asset management clients at no additional charge.

What to Watch out For

Prospective clients should be aware that your advisor may either be an employee of Carson or an independent contractor. Advisors have the ability to negotiate fees charged for services, and thus different advisors may charge different rates for the same service. Also, while Carson does say that asset level factors into the fee rate charged, it does not disclose clear fee breakpoints like many of its competitors do, which makes it difficult to determine exactly how the firm’s fees stack up.

Additionally, some of Carson's advisor representatives are also registered representatives of a broker-dealer and/or insurance agents. When acting in these separate roles, the advisor may sell products on a commission basis, thus incentivizing them to recommend certain products. Additionally, the company is under common ownership with Carson Group Coaching, which has an insurance agency through which Carson  Wealth advisors may offer insurance products.

Disclosures

Neither Carson nor its advisory affiliates have faced disciplinary actions by government regulators.

Opening an Account with Carson Wealth

You can learn more about Carson Wealth's services by contacting one of the firm's five primary offices. The firm provides each office's address and phone number on its website.

Before Carson begins providing investment advice, clients must sign an Investment Advisory Agreement, which outlines specific fees. In your initial meeting with your advisor, you'll complete a Confidential Client Profile, which will better define your level of risk tolerance and your long-term financial goals. This information will be used to create a specific asset allocation strategy and suitability profile.

Where Is Carson Wealth Located?

Carson Wealth is headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska. It also has offices in San Rafael, California; Vincennes, Indiana; Portland, Oregon and Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Additionally, Carson has partner offices that span more than 100 locations across the country.

Tips for Finding a Qualified Financial Advisor

  • Note advisors' certifications, as these can be indicative of their area of expertise and level of experience. Two of the most prestiguous designations are the certified financial planner (CFP) and chartered financial consultant (ChFC), which require extensive coursework, a background check and a certain level of experience and education to obtain.
  • Simplify your search by using SmartAsset's finacial advisor matching tool. The SmartAdvisor program will pair you with up to three qualified advisors based on your answers to questions about your financial situation, goals and preferences. This takes a lot of the work out of finding a financial advisor in your area suited to your needs. 

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