Finding a Top Financial Advisor in Chicago
There’s no shortage of financial advisor firms in Chicago. But that can make it tough to figure out which firm is right for you. SmartAsset spent dozens of hours researching to narrow it down to this list of Chicago’s top 10 firms. To figure out which financial advisor best fits your needs there are several things to consider, including account minimum, fee structure, certifications and specialties, all of which we’ve laid out in the charts and tables below.
|Rank||Financial Advisor||Assets Managed||Minimum Assets||Financial Services||More Information|
HighTower Advisors LLCFind an Advisor
No existing account minimum
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No existing account minimum
Mesirow Financial Investment Management, IncFind an Advisor
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RMB Capital ManagementFind an Advisor
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Gofen and Glossberg, LLCFind an Advisor
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Zacks Investment Management, Inc.Find an Advisor
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Kovitz Investment Group Partners, LLCFind an Advisor
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Interocean Capital, LLCFind an Advisor
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Chicago Partners Investment Group LLCFind an Advisor
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Private Vista, LLCFind an Advisor
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North Star Investment Management CorporationFind an Advisor
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How We Found the Top Financial Advisors in Chicago
To narrow it down to Chicago’s top 10 financial advisor firms, we first rounded up all U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)-registered firms, which have a fiduciary duty to act in their clients' best interest. We eliminated any firms with disclosures to keep our list focused only on advisors with clean records.
After that, we cut any firm that doesn’t have financial planners and any firm that doesn’t manage individual or high-net-worth individual accounts. From there, we ranked the firms from highest assets under management to lowest. The top 10 from that list are the financial advisor firms reviewed here.
HighTower Advisors LLC
This national, advisor-owned financial services company has a more than $42 billion in assets under management, by far the most of any firm on this list. That’s not the only impressive number about this firm: Hightower Advisors LLC has 312 advisors, which is more than all of the other firms’ total advisors combined.
HighTower Advisors is unique in that it has no set account minimum or minimum annual fee. However, the firm explicitly advises that its services “may not be beneficial for certain asset levels or account sizes, as the relatively higher advisory fees and trading and transaction costs may have a negative impact on performance.” HighTower primarily serves high-net-worth individuals and institutions.
HighTower Advisors LLC Background
HighTower Advisors LLC was established in 2008. The firm is a wholly owned subsidiary of HighTower Holding, LLC.
HighTower is a licensed general insurance broker and agency and has relationships to registered broker-dealers, HighTower Securities, LLC and RDM Services, Inc. The firms may benefit financially from one another.
The capital partners, however, do not have a direct involvement with the firm’s investment management. Instead, the firm has an open source and multi-custodial structure that allows it to employ a variety of resources and options and, according to HighTower, offer more competitive pricing for its clients.
HighTower’s strategy is driven by advanced technology. The team relies on research and sophisticated capital market desks.
HighTower Advisors LLC Resources
HighTower has a blog, Collective Wisdom, that’s updated about once a week. The firm’s podcast, also named Collective Wisdom, comes out weekly with episodes designed to help listeners make smarter, more informed decisions.
Mesirow Financial Investment Management, Inc
Mesirow Financial Investment Management, Inc (MFIM) has deep roots in the financial industry. Its sole shareholder, Mesirow Financial Services, Inc., was founded in 1937.
MFIM has a notable 18 certified financial planners (CFPs), as well as three chartered retirement planning counselors (CRPCs), four chartered financial analysts (CFAs), a certified trust and financial advisor (CTFA) and a certified investment management analyst (CIMA).
The minimum at Mesirow Financial Investment Management, Inc. is $250,000 in investable assets. The minimum annual fee is $4,000.
Mesirow Financial Investment Management, Inc Background
Formed in 1986, Mesirow Financial Investment Management is part of a group of affiliated financial services companies. The registered investment advisor’s sole shareholder is the independent firm Mesirow Financial Services, Inc.
MFIM’s investment strategy includes equity investments in value stocks across diversified-cap companies and fixed-income investments in short- and intermediate-term government, corporate, mortgage-backed and asset-backed securities.
Mesirow Financial Investment Management, Inc Resources and Extras
Mesirow offers a series of publications about financial marketplace trends that you can sign up to receive. The firm also publishes an annual report about its activities and financial performances. Past annual reports are available on the firm’s website.
Even if you can’t meet Mesirow’s account minimum, you may still be able to get its expertise, thanks to its SMART Portfolios™ program. There’s just a $5,000 account minimum for the program, which offers customized portfolio management through technology and a nine-person team. There’s also an app for the program, so you can check in on your portfolio at anytime.
RMB Capital Management
Several of the firms on this list are full of accredited experts, but RMB Capital Management still manages to stand out in this regard. The firm has the most certified financial planners of any firm on this list, with 26 on its team. It also has 29 chartered financial analysts (CFAs), four certified private wealth advisors® (CPWAs®), seven certified public accountants (CPAs) and a certified investment management analyst (CIMA).
You’ll need at least $250,000 in investable assets for RMB Capital Management to take you on as a client. The firm services a higher percentage of high-net-worth individuals than individuals, according to its Form ADV (SEC-filed paperwork).
RMB Capital Management was ranked among Barron’s top 30 independent advisory firms and among Financial Times’ top 300 Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs). Financial Advisor named it #21 of the top 50 fastest-growing firms.
RMB Capital Management Background
RMB Capital Management was founded in Chicago in 2005. The independent firm works through two business units to service its clients: The Wealth Management Unit is focused on finding solutions to clients’ financial needs, while the Asset Management Unit is centered on investment strategies.
RMB Capital Management’s investment strategy is centered around “taking a long-term view, conducting fundamental analysis, being opportunistic yet disciplined and avoiding unnecessary risk,” its website explains. All of that comes into play in RMB Capital Management’s “open architecture” model, which lets clients have assets that are managed both internally and externally.
RMB Capital Management Resources
RMB Capital Management has a handy resource called the Insight Library. The library is a compendium of articles and commentaries by the firm on a range of topics.
Gofen and Glossberg, LLC
Founded back in 1932, Gofen and Glossberg, LLC is by far the oldest firm on this list. It’s tied with three other firms on this list for the highest account minimum at $1 million. Gofen and Glossberg skews more toward serving high-net-worth individuals than individuals.
The fee-only firm does not have any certified financial planners on staff, but it does have one certified public accountant (CPA) and eight chartered financial analysts (CFAs).
Gofen and Glossberg, LLC Background
Because the firm was founded in 1932, Gofen and Glossberg, LLC has established experience with managing portfolios through almost any market cycle. The firm takes a long-term approach to investing and constantly monitors economic, political and market conditions to inform its selections.
Each client portfolio is supervised by a team that includes a senior portfolio manager, a second portfolio manager and an account administrator. The senior portfolio manager serves as the primary contact, but by involving a team of experts, the firm says it ensures that clients always have someone familiar with their account to turn to.
Gofen and Glossberg, LLC Resources
Gofen and Glossberg offers reporting tools to its clients that allow them to check in on their portfolio’s performance, track transactions and look back at bank and brokerage records.
Zacks Investment Management, Inc.
If you value research, you might want to consider Zacks Investment Management, Inc., the offshoot of the well-known independent research firm, Zacks Investment Research. Many of the firm’s strategies and philosophies are informed by the ideas of the research firm’s founder, Len Zacks. Its parent company’s affinity for offering information also crops up on the investment firm’s website.
Though Zacks Investment Management has a team of PhDs doing research, it does not have any certified financial planners (CFPs). Unlike many firms on this list, Zacks’ client base is comprised of significantly more individuals than high-net-worth individuals. A client must have a minimum of $5,000 in investable assets.
Zacks Investment Management, Inc. Background
Zacks Investment Management, Inc. was founded in 1992 as an offshoot of Zacks Investment Research, one of the country’s biggest independent research firms. The investment firm is a wholly owned subsidiary of its parent company.
Zacks Investment Management’s research roots largely inform its investment management strategy. The articles published by Zacks Investment Research founder Len Zacks back in 1978 have shaped the firm’s strategies, including its use of earnings estimates to pick stocks and its proprietary stock-ranking model, Zacks Rank.
The firm itself is research heavy, too. Zacks has a staff of PhDs that makes proprietary quantitative models and regularly studies academic investment research articles.
Zacks Investment Management, Inc. Resources
As might be expected from the offshoot of Zacks Investment Research, the investment firm has a robust offering of resources. There’s the Resource Library, wth sections on market reports and commentaries, retirement, personal finance, financial planning and annuities. There are four different types of retirement calculators and an array of client scenarios laid out on the firm’s website. There’s also a private client group blog.
Kovitz Investment Group Partners, LLC
Kovitz Investment Group Partners, LLC is one of three firms on this list tied for the highest account minimum at $1 million. The firm serves significantly more high-net-worth individuals than individuals.
Kovitz has an impressive 12 certified financial planners (CFPs) on staff, as well as five certified public accountants (CPAs) and a chartered retirement planning counselor (CHRC).
Kovitz Investment Group Partners, LLC Background
Kovitz Investment Group Partners, LLC was founded in 2003. It’s part of the Focus Financial Partners, an international group of independent, fiduciary wealth management firms.
At Kovitz, nearly all partner and employee liquid net worth is invested through the strategies that Kovitz recommends to its clients. Its investment strategies hinge on equities, hedged equities and fixed income, with a focus on investment solutions that have a “longer-than-average time horizon,” the firm’s website explains.
The firm aims to invest in businesses that it’s identified as significantly undervalued. It takes particular note of the price paid for the security, which Kovtiz deems “the single greatest determinant of both expected return and expected risk.
Interocean Capital, LLC
InterOcean Capital, LLC boasts an impressive level of expertise for a team of just five advisors. Despite having by far the lowest number of advisors, the firm has five chartered financial analysts (CFAs), three certified financial planners (CFP) and one certified public accountant (CPA).
The minimum investable assets needed to become a client at InterOcean Capital, LLC is $500,000. The firm’s Form ADV (SEC-filed paperwork) indicates that its client base relies much more heavily on high-net-worth individual than on individuals.
InterOcean Capital, LLC Background
InterOcean Capital, LLC was formed in 2005. The firm is primarily employee-owned, with about 16% owned by outside investors.
InterOcean’s investment philosophy is three-pronged: value investing, risk management and and active management. InterOcean opts for a combination of investment strategies, depending on a client’s risk tolerance, goals and financial circumstances.
Typically, the firm chooses a large capitalization equity portfolio, which it may augment with an equity income and option portfolio or an equity hedge portfolio. The advisor may also recommend exchange-traded Funds (ETFs). Only in some instances does InterOcean completely customize investment strategies for clients.
Chicago Partners Investment Group LLC
Chicago Partners Investment Group LLC is the only firm on this list that doesn’t count individuals as part of its client base. This firm, which serves exclusively high-net-worth individuals, requires a minimum of $1 million in investable assets.
The fee-only firm has two certified financial planners (CFP), three chartered financial analysts (CFAs) and one certified public accountant (CPA) on staff.
Chicago Partners Investment Group LLC Background
Chicago Partners Investment Group was founded in 2009. However, the experience of its senior professionals averages over 20 years.
The firm’s investment recommendations are primarily options like low-cost institutional shares of mutual funds. It places an emphasis on tax efficiency and thus tends to opt for low turnover equity funds.
According to the company, a perk of working with Chicago Partners investment Group is that it has relationships with exclusive firms that gives it access to funds that other investors might not have access to.
Private Vista, LLC
Private Vista, LLC, the newest firm on this list, is a fee-based firm that states a goal to be as transparent as possible. Private Vista discloses fees at the outset of a client relationship and provides clients an introductory consultation at no cost. Its management fees have an inverse relationship to assets under management: as a client’s assets increase, the management fees decrease.
The firm, which requires minimum investable assets of $500,000, offers an impressive 18 certified financial planners, as well as four certified public accountants (CPAs) and a certified investment management analyst (CIMA). It’s the only firm on this list with a certified divorce financial analyst™ (CDFA).
Private Vista LLC Background
Private Vista was formed in 2016 when Financial Strategy Network, LLC, (established in 1992) merged with WNA Wealth Advisors, Inc., (established in 1993). The firm is primarily owned by members of its management team.
Aside from learning about clients’ financial situation and objectives, the firm also claims to make a point to find out about a client’s views, passions and personal goals. Once it’s collected all of that information, Private Vista drafts up recommendations. The firm states it is in frequent communications with clients through the process and also schedules a yearly meeting to check in.
Private Vista portfolios are comprised of some combination of individual equities, bonds, ETFs, managed futures, oil and natural gas exploration and other alternative investments, other investment products and no-load or load-waived mutual funds.
Private Vista LLC Resources
Private Vista does not skimp on the resources. The firm’s website is jam-packed with links to articles on a variety of topics, book recommendations sorted by category and videos on everything from income-producing work and intellectual stimulation to family and spirituality. The firm also has a steady presence on Facebook and Twitter.
North Star Investment Management Corporation
For those looking for insurance or employee-benefit planning, North Star Investment Management might be worth your consideration. The firm is under common control with the insurance agency, North Star Benefits, LLC. It offers personal and corporate insurance and employee-benefit planning through North Star Benefits, LLC. If insurance isn’t what you’re after, be mindful that the firm has those interests.
North Star’s account minimum is on the lower end, at $100,000 of investable assets. The firm’s client base is split between high-net-worth individuals and individuals.
North Star has four certified financial planners (CFPs) and one chartered financial analyst (CFA) on staff.
North Star Investment Management Corporation Background
North Star Investment Management Corporation was founded in 2003. Its sole shareholder is North Star Financial Services Corp.
North Star has several strategies that it may employ, depending on what a client wants his or her primary objective to be. There’s Equity Strategy, which focuses on long-term capital appreciation; Micro Cap Strategy, which focuses on capital appreciation through investment in micro-cap companies; Fixed Income Strategy, which focuses on generating income and Balanced Strategy, which focuses on asset allocation.
North Star has four funds: the Opportunity Fund, the Dividend Fund, the Bond Fund and the Micro Cap Fund.