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Century Management Review

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by Becca Stanek Updated
Century Management

Century Management is a west Austin-based financial advisor firm with $1.42 billion in assets under management (AUM). This makes it the largest, and subsequently top-ranking, firm on SmartAsset’s list of the top Austin financial advisor firms. The firm primarily serves individuals. Its account minimums vary by account type, with the lowest minimum set at $500,000.

Below, we provide an in-depth overview of Century Management, including its fees, investment philosophy and portfolio offerings. If you find you’re still searching for the right financial advisor, try SmartAsset’s financial advisor matching tool, which pairs you with nearby advisors who suit your needs.

Who Should Use Century Management?

Century Management primarily serves individuals. Non-high-net-worth individuals make up the majority of the firm’s client base, while high-net-worth individuals account for just 17.5% of the firm’s total clients.

To be a client of this firm, you’ll need at least $500,000. That account minimum applies to all but two of the firm’s portfolio options. You'll need at least $1 million for a fixed-income portfolio and at least $2 million for a small-cap value portfolio. 

This firm is best suited for investors who embrace value investing. The firm has practiced value investing since its founding in 1974 and firmly believes in selecting investments based on a company's intrinsic value and striving to purchase undervalued equities.

Century Management’s offices are located in Austin, which makes it most convenient to Austinites. However, the firm typically conducts its client reviews either in-person or on the phone, making it also convenient for those who would prefer not to travel to their advisor's office. The firm accepts clients from any state.

What You’ll Pay in Fees

Century Management’s fees for its advisory services include:

  • a percentage of assets under management
  • fixed fees
  • performance-based fees

However, Century Management says that it only enters into performance-fee arrangements for a "limited number of investment strategies and in limited cases." The firm says that a “very limited number” of clients are currently charged under this fee structure.

To be eligible for this fee structure option, you must have at least $5 million invested with Century Management. This option is for clients who would prefer to pay fees based on their annual gross profits rather than a fixed management fee based on their account's value at the end of a quarter.

Although not unique to Century Management, it's important for potential clients to note that the firm's fees do not include brokerage and custodian fees, transaction fees, bank fees, margin interest, national securities exchange fees and other costs. Clients will be responsible for those costs separately from the fees they pay to Century Management.

Portfolio Fees

Century Management allows its clients to choose from a wide range of portfolio types. The firm's fees vary by portfolio type. Its fee presented annually are as follows:

CM Value I, CM Value Focused and CM Value Plus (All-Cap Value):

  • 1.25% on first $2,000,000
  • 1.10% on next $1,000,000
  • 1.00% thereafter

CM Large-Cap Absolute Value:

(Equities are valued at the end of each quarter and the annual fee applies to this value.)

  • 1.00% on the equities only

CM Small-Cap Value

  • 1.25% on first $2,000,000
  • 1.10% on the next $1,000,000
  • 1.00% thereafter

CM Moderate Plus Allocation:

  • 1.25% on first $2,000,000
  • 1.00% on next $1,000,000
  • 0.85% thereafter

CM Moderate Allocation:

  • 1.00% on first $3,000,000
  • 0.85% thereafter

CM Conservative Allocation:

  • 0.85% on first $3,000,000
  • 0.65% thereafter 

CM Fixed Income:

  • 0.45% on first $3,000,000
  • 0.35% thereafter

Fund Fees

Century Management offers its own mutual funds, which it calls CM Advisors Family of Funds. Clients of the firm have the option of investing in these funds but they don't have to do so, although the firms' advisors may recommend the company's products.

Century Management does not receive commissions, trading fees or custodian-generated fees. The fees it does charge for its funds are as follows:

  • CM Advisor Fund: 1% management fee on all assets
  • CM Advisors Fixed-Income Fund: 0.50% management fee on all assets
  • CM Advisors Small-Cap Value Fund: 1% management fee on all assets

Century Management will not charge clients a separate account management fee if the client holds a mutual fund from the CM Advisors Family of Funds that is managed by one of the firm's advisors.

What to Watch out for With Century Management

While there aren’t any significant drawbacks to working with Century Management, note that the firm is fee-based instead of fee-only. This is because in addition to its advisory fees, Century Management also earns money from the funds that it manages. However, the firm says that it does not earn commissions, trading fees or custodian-generated fees from its funds.

Century Management acknowledges that it may recommend its mutual funds to its clients, which could create a potential conflict of interest. However, clients are under no obligation to invest in any of the firm's funds. Furthermore, the firm is bound by fiduciary duty, which means it’s required to act in clients’ best interests at all times. 

Century Management: What to Know

As mentioned previously, Century Management ranks first on SmartAsset’s list of the top 10 Austin financial advisor firms because it has far more assets under management than any other firm on the list. Century Management has $1.41 billion in assets under management (AUM), which makes it the only firm on SmartAsset’s list of the top Austin firms that manages more than $1 billion.

Though Century Management has a notable amount of assets under management, it doesn’t have a particularly large team. The firm has 28 employees in total, seven of whom work in an advisory capacity. The firm’s team is broken down into several smaller teams, including portfolio managers, analysts and researchers, traders, client services professionals and a compliance team.

The firm’s team has a varied array of certifications. There are five certified financial planners (CFPs) on staff, as well as four chartered financial analysts (CFAs), two chartered financial consultants (ChFCs) and one certified trust and financial advisor (CTFA). The firm’s staff has two different types of retirement-related certifications, including one chartered retirement planning counselor (CRPC) and one chartered retirement plans specialist (CRPS). Century Management has its own mutual funds and there are three chartered mutual fund counselors (CMFCs) on staff.

Century Management is a closely held family corporation. It also does business under the name CM Fund Advisors. The firm’s mutual funds are known as CM Advisors Family of Funds, and clients can invest in that if they so choose.

Key Personnel

Arnold Van Den Berg, the firm’s current chairman, CEO and co-chief investment officer, founded Century Management in 1974. The firm is legally named Van Den Berg Management I, Inc., after Van Den Berg. Van Den Berg is also a principal and portfolio manager. He is the lead portfolio manager for the CM Value (All-Cap Value) separate account strategies and for all balanced separate account strategies. In addition, he is also a co-portfolio manager for the CM Fixed Income separate account strategy and the CM Advisors Fixed-Income Fund (CMFIX).

Alongside Arnold Van Den Berg, Scott Van Den Berg and James Brilliant operate and manage Century Management. Scott Van Den Berg is the firm’s president and chief operating officer, as well as a principal and portfolio manager. He holds several certifications, including the certified financial planner (CFP) designation.

James Brilliant serves as the firm’s chief financial officer and co-chief investment officer, and he’s also a principal and portfolio manager. He is a chartered financial analyst (CFA).

Awards and Recognition

Financial Times named Century Management to its 2017 list of the top 300 registered investment advisors in the U.S..  In 2014, Century Management's founder, chairman and CEO Arnold Van Den Berg was featured in the book, “The World's 99 Greatest Investors.”

Brokerage Relationships

Century Management says that it generally requests that its clients who have separately managed investment advisory accounts select a broker-dealer or grant the firm permission to pick a broker-dealer to use. Typically, Century Management recommends that its clients establish brokerage accounts with Fidelity, Schwab or TD Ameritrade. However, the firm says it can usually accommodate clients who wish to work with a broker-dealer outside of its recommended brokers.

Disclosures

Century Management does not have any disclosures or disciplinary issues on record.

Century Management Investing Style

Century Management provides portfolio management on a discretionary basis. Its portfolio management services are available through separate portfolios, as well as through sub-advisory relationships with other investment firms and through a wrap-fee program sponsored by the registered investment advisor LPL Financial Corporation. Century Management manages equity and fixed income portfolios.

Since its founding in 1974, the firm has adhered to the strategy of value investing. Value investing is an active investing strategy that focuses on a stock's intrinsic value. Value investors search for companies that are undervalued and whose stocks are currently trading at a price lower than their intrinsic worth. Century Management says that it embraces volatility because this is when market inefficiencies become apparent.

As is the case with many financial advisor firms, Century Management believes in investing for the long term. The firm also uses a margin of safety and it takes a business approach to investing.

Notably, the firm says that each of its team members has invested at least a "substantial amount" of their investable assets in one or more of the firm's accounts or mutual fund strategies to ensure that the interests of the firm's employees are aligned with those of the firm's clients.

Century Management Portfolio Styles

Century Management offers four broad categories of management styles: value-based equity focused portfolios, balanced focused portfolios, fixed-income focused portfolios and other strategies.

The firm's value-based equity programs are geared toward younger investors. These portfolios are invested in equities, with the percentage of equities in the portfolios ranging from 50% to 90%. For investors who are nearing retirement, the firm recommends balanced focused income management. These portfolios are invested in equities from percentages ranging from 20% to 80%. The firm’s fixed-income portfolios primarily consist of U.S. corporate bonds and/or U.S. Treasury securities, while the “other strategies” category includes variations of the aforementioned categories.

There are multiple portfolio types available within each category, each of which uses a specific investing strategy. The available portfolio types include:

Value-Based Equity Focused Portfolios:

  1. CM Value I (All-Cap Value) strategy
  2. CM Value Focused strategy
  3. CM Value Plus strategy
  4. CM Large-Cap Absolute Value strategy
  5. CM Small-Cap Value strategy

Balanced Focused Portfolios:

  1. CM Moderate Plus Allocation strategy
  2. CM Moderate Allocation strategy 
  3. CM Conservative Allocation strategy

Fixed Income Focused Portfolios:

  1. CM Fixed-Income strategy

Other Strategies:

The firm’s “other strategies” category includes variations of the strategies listed under the above categories.These variations are available only to qualifying clients and are offered upon request. Century Management's says its variations may include things like using equity strategies in balanced focused strategies or permitting the use of certain cap-size limitations or municipal bonds.

Century Management Financial Planning

Century Management may provide financial planning services for some separate account clients, though on only a limited basis. Rather than a comprehensive financial plan that considers insurance, investment, tax retirement and estate planning, Century Management offers its clients a personal lifestyle and retirement projection. This projection involves comparing a client's current assets, earned income, investment income, Social Security, possibility of inheritance, gifting, miscellaneous income and expenses against their current lifestyle, retirement plans and goals and objectives.

The process begins with an interview with one of the firm's relationship managers and culminates in a detailed written analysis of the projection and a personal consultation to discuss the results. Clients will receive a base case scenario and two additional scenarios showing variations from the base case so they have a financial roadmap to follow.

Clients must sign a separate agreement for financial planning services. Century Management says that this service is offered to its clients free of charge.

Starting an Account With Century Management

If you're interested in starting an account with Century Management or learning more about the firm, you can call the firm at (512) 329-0050. As an alternative, you can  fill out a contact form on the firm's website, providing your name, phone number, email address and, if you'd like, a brief message.

To open an account, you'll have to meet the specified account minimum for that account type. Century Management’s lowest account minimum is $500,000. Should you become a client, your first quarterly investment advisory fee payment will be based on your account's opening value.

What Types of Clients Does Century Management Accept?

Century Management mainly works with individuals. Though the firm’s current client base includes high-net-worth individuals, it primarily serves individuals. It also works with:

  • Investment companies
  • Pension and profit-sharing plans
  • Charitable organizations
  • Corporations
  • Limited partnerships
  • Insurance Companies
  • Estates
  • Trusts

Where Is Century Management Located?

Century Management is a Texas corporation that operates out of Austin. It’s located in west Austin near Westlake Oaks, off of Loop 360.

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