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Citizens Investment Services Review

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Citizens Securities, Inc.

Citizens Investment Services is a financial advisor with headquarters in Dedham, Massachusetts. The firm (whose legal name is Citizens Securities, Inc.) is the main investment arm of Citizens Bank, one of the largest financial institutions in the U.S.

The firm has a large team of financial advisors who currently manage $5.34 billion in assets. The firm's client base consists almost entirely of individuals. The firm does not provide dedicated financial planning services, instead focusing on investing and portfolio management.

Certain advisors at Citizens Investment Services may earn additional compensation for the sale of specific securities to clients, which makes it a fee-based firm. That's different from a fee-only firm, which avoids conflicts of interest by only collecting fees only from clients.

Citizens Investment Services Background

Citizens Investment Services was established in 1995, but it registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as an investment advisor only in 2003. The firm is owned by Citizens Bank, N.A., and its parent company, Citizens Financial Group, Inc. Bruce Van Saun serves as chairman and CEO of Citizens Financial Group.

Citizens Investment Services has branches and advisors across 12 states, all on the East Coast. The firm's advisory employees hold a number of professional designations, including certified retirement counselor (CRC) and certified financial planner (CFP).

Citizens Investment Services Client Types and Minimum Account Sizes

Citizens Investment Services works mainly with individuals, including both high-net-worth and non-high-net-worth clients. The firm also maintains advisory relationships with a number of businesses. The firm says that its advisors can also work with trusts, estates, Taft-Hartley plans, non-profits and more.

The minimum account size at Citizens Investment Services depends on the type of account you're looking to open:

  • Managed Account Program
    • Citizens Advisory Connect Program: $12,500
    • Custom Select Portfolios: $50,000
    • Integrated Portfolios: $25,000
    • Individual managers: $10,000 to $500,000
  • Digital Advice Program: $5,000

Services Offered by Citizens Investment Services

Citizens Investment Services offers investment and portfolio management services through its two main offerings: Citizens Advisory Solutions Managed Account Program and the Citizens Digital Advice Program. Here's a breakdown of each:

  • Citizens Advisory Solutions Managed Account Program
    • Custom Select Portfolios
      • Features risk-adjusted asset allocations and model portfolios that are made up of mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs)
      • Non-discretionary services, so clients must approve investment decisions
    • Wrap Strategists
      • Works similary to Custom Select Portfolios, as it's centered around risk-adjusted model portfolios containing mutual funds, ETFs or both
      • These are wrap fee programs, so all trading and transactional fees are included with advisory charges
    • Integrated Portfolios
      • Unified managed account (UMA) program with access to a diversified portfolio of mutual funds, ETFs, separately managed accounts (SMAs) and Wrap Strategist portfolios
  • Citizens Digital Advice Program
    • Robo-advisor services offered through SigFig Wealth Management
    • Risk-adjusted model portfolios
    • Tax-loss harvesting features

Citizens Investment Services Investing Philosophy

Citizens Investment Services offers many investment strategies through third-party managers, so there is no overarching investment philosophy that the firm adheres to. Certain accounts and strategies are more aggressive and risky in pursuit of growth, while others are more conservative. Accounts also vary in the range of securities used in portfolios. 

Many of the firm's programs utilize computer-based investment research, along with analytical data, to help inform their final investment decisions. Since Citizens Investment Services uses a variety of advisors and third-party managers for investment accounts, each client will be informed of the specific investment philosophy on a case-by-case basis.

Citizens Investment Services Fees

Citizens Investment Services charges a wide range of fees depending on the program you subscribe to and your overall assets under management (AUM). The fees noted below do not include any applicable sub-manager fees. Fees are calculated and paid on a quarterly basis. Some fees are negotiable.

Custom Select Portfolios Fees
Total AUM Annual Fee
First $250K 1.43%
Next $250K 1.28%
Next $500K 1.13%
Next $1MM 1.08%
Next $3MM 1.03%
$5MM and up 0.93%

Custom Select Portfolios accounts smaller than $5 million are charged more than the industry average, which is 0.95%, according to a 2018 study of 1,500 firms by RIA in a Box. Here is the estimated dollar amount you'd pay in advisory fees based on the size of your account:

*Estimated investment management fees do not include brokerage, custodial, third-party manager or other fees, which can vary in amount.
Estimated Custom Select Portfolios Fees at Citizens Investment Services*
Your Assets Annual Fee Amount
$250K $3,575
$500K $6,775
$1MM $12,425
$2MM $23,225
$5MM $54,125
$10MM $93,000

The fees for Citizens Integrated Portfolios Unified Managed Accounts are slightly lower: 

Citizens Integrated Portfolios Unified Managed Account Fees
Total AUM Annual Fee
First $250K 1.41%
Next $250K 1.26%
Next $500K 1.11%
Next $1MM 1.06%
Next $3MM 1.01%
$5MM and up 0.96%

Here is the estimated dollar amount you'd pay in advisory fees based on the size of your account:

*Estimated investment management fees do not include brokerage, custodial, third-party manager or other fees, which can vary in amount.
Estimated Citizens Integrated Portfolios Unified Managed Account Fees at Citizens Investment Services*
Your Assets Annual Fee Amount
$250K $3,525
$500K $6,675
$1MM $12,225
$2MM $22,825
$5MM $53,125
$10MM $96,000

Wrap Strategist program fees vary widely depending on the type of model portfolio you invest in. Like the programs above, these fee schedules tend to follow a tiered schedule, with higher asset levels paying lower rates.

On the other hand, the Digital Advice Program charges a flat rate management fee of 0.50%. These charges are paid monthly, in arrears, based on your account's value on the last business day of the preceding calendar month.

Learn more about advisors' typical costs here.

What to Watch Out For

Citizens Securities has several disclosures on its Form ADV. While some of these only refer to the firm's advisory affiliates, many of them directly involve Citizens Securities. These disclosures relate to a variety of issues, including failing to properly disclose relationships with other entities. Other disclosures include:

  • Failing to disclose client complaints in a timely manner
  • Failure to implement an adequate supervisory system
  • Disadvantaging certain clients who were eligible to purchase mutual funds without a sales charge
  • Failing to supervise the sale of certain annuity products

As a result of these violations, the firm has paid thousands of dollars in fines and has submitted to censure and disgorgement.

Also worth noting: Certain advisors at Citizens Investment Services are also brokers who receive transaction-based fees. This represents a potential conflict of interest. That said, the firm and its advisors are fiduciaries and are legally obligated to act with the best interests of clients in mind at all times.

Opening an Account With Citizens Investment Services

There are several ways to contact Citizens Investment Services. You can go online to the firm's website and send a secure message so a representative can reach out to you. Alternately, you can call the firm at (800) 242-2224.

All information is accurate as of the writing of this article.

Tips for Financial Planning

  • Don't go it alone. Use SmartAsset's free matching tool to find a financial advisor. The tool will connect you with up to three advisors in your area. If you've got five minutes, get started now.
  • How much will your investments grow over time? SmartAsset’s investment calculator can help you understand how long it will take to hit your targets. 

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 the cost of living in retirement for that location.

Rank City Housing Expenses Food Expenses Healthcare Expenses Utilities Expenses Transportation Expenses

Methodology To determine how long a $1 million nest egg would cover retirement costs in cities across America, we analyzed data on average expenditures for seniors, cost of living and investment returns.

First, we looked at data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on the average annual expenditures of seniors. 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. Using this data, SmartAsset calculated the average cost of living for retirees in the largest U.S. cities.

We assumed the $1 million would grow at a real return (interest minus inflation) of 2%. This reflects the typical return on a conservative investment portfolio. Then, we divided $1 million by the sum of each of those annual numbers to determine how long $1 million would cover retirement expenses in each of the cities in our study. Cities where $1 million lasted the longest ranked the highest in the study.

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Council for Community and Economic Research