Finding a Top Financial Advisor Firm in Cleveland, Ohio
Searching for a financial advisor can be time-consuming and challenging. That’s why SmartAsset spent dozens of hours researching financial advisor firms in the Cleveland, Ohio metro area and narrowed your choices down to just 10 firms. Read about what each one offers in the reviews below. If you are interested in a tailored recommendation, try our financial advisor matching tool.
How We Found the Top Financial Advisor Firms in Cleveland, Ohio
Firms on the list are all registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). SmartAsset excluded unregistered firms because they aren’t subject to client-protective rules and regulations. We eliminated any firm with disclosures or disciplinary issues or that didn’t manage individual accounts. After that, we ranked the top 10 financial advisors based on assets under management.
MAI Capital Management
With over $3.9 billion in assets under management, MAI Capital Management leads the pack of Cleveland financial advisors. This fee-based firm has 30 advisors and was originally established in 1973, making it the second-oldest firm after Fairport Asset Management (No. 3). To become a client, you’ll need at least $500,000 in investable assets.
Services offered at MAI Capital management include wealth management, investment management, tax planning, financial planning and estate planning. Besides Cleveland, Ohio, you can find offices in Nashua, New Hampshire, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida and Irvine, California.
MAI Capital Management Background
Originally known as Investment Advisors International in 1973, an affiliate of a International Management Group, a sports management firm, MAI Capital has gone through a number of name changes and restructuring throughout the years. In 2014, the firm assumed the name it’s known as now. The principal owner is Richard James Buoncore, who owns 25% of the company.
Forty-seven people work for MAI Capital across the investment management, corporate, sales and client advisory/wealth planning teams, making it the second-largest team on the list after Hartland & Co (No. 2). For certifications, there are 15 certified financial planners (CFPs), 13 certified public accountants (CPAs), nine chartered financial analysts (CFAs) and two certified private wealth advisors (CPWAs).
MAI Capital Management Investment Strategy
MAI Capital has nine main investment strategies:
- MAI managed volatility (ideal minimum assets $10 million)
- Dividend (ideal minimum assets $500,000)
- Diversified core (ideal minimum assets $500,000)
- Diversified dividend (ideal minimum assets $500,000)
- Core (ideal minimum assets $500,000)
- Exchange-traded fund (ideal minimum assets $250,000)
- MAI energy infrastructure (ideal minimum assets $250,000)
- Fixed income - tax exempt (ideal minimum assets $250,000)
- Fixed income - taxable strategy (ideal minimum assets $250,000)
Each strategy corresponds with its name. For example, the ETF strategy is a diversified portfolio containing ETFs.
Hartland & Co
This fee-based firm is aimed towards high-net-worth individuals and families, with a minimum annual fee of $20,000. Hartland & Co’s 700-plus accounts belong to those in the high-net-worth category, which means having a net worth of $1.5 million or at least $750,000 in investable assets.
Hartland was founded in 1989 and has $3.2 million in assets under management. Thirty-three advisors work here and offer services such as investment management, financial planning, tax planning and compliance and family office administration.
Hartland & Co Background
In 1989, when the firm was first founded, clients were defined benefit pension plans. As the years went on, the company began serving private clients. In 2014, Tom Hartland, the founder and CEO moved to become the chairman of the board of directors. Dave Fulton, a chartered financial analyst (CFA) is Hartland’s current CEO.
The firm has over 73 staff members, with 27 serving on the private client group team; out of the total firm, nine are certified financial planners (CFPs), 10 are certified public accountants (CPAs) and 13 are CFAs.
Hartland & Co Investment Strategy
Investing at this firm is primarily limited to mutual funds and ETFs instead of individual stocks and bonds. Hartland & Co uses open-end mutual funds and ETFs and diversified broadly across asset classes. When choosing funds to invest in, the firm uses qualitative and quantitative investment manager research. Hartland has an investment research committee that evaluates each security before its presented to clients.
Fairport Asset Management
To become a client of Fairport Asset Management, you’ll need at least $1 million in investable assets. The firm, originally founded in 1963, has the longest history of any Cleveland financial advisor on the list. Fairport has five advisors, the second-fewest out of this to 10 after St. Clair Advisors (No. 7). The fee-only firm has $1.5 billion in assets under management, less than half of what our No. 2 firm, Hartland & Co has. Services offered here include wealth management, investment advisory services, financial planning, tax planning, insurance planning and estate planning.
Fairport Asset Management Background
Originally founded in 1963 as Roulston & Co, Fairport came to be in 2001 when Roulston & Co merged with another firm called The Hickory Group. Kenneth Coleman and Heather Ettinger are the two managing partners in the 29 person firm. Both Coleman and Ettinger have 25 years of experience in the financial services industry.
Fairport Asset has five certified financial planners (CFPs), four certified financial analyst (CFAs) and five certified public accountant (CPAs). Four of the five accountants also have the personal financial specialist designations.
Fairport Asset Management Investment Strategy
As a new client, you’ll be walked through a number of questions related to your financial situation. One of the first is the length of your investment time frame, the next is what type of spending you expect and the last is risk. This is how tolerable you are of fluctuations in the market. The firm has five different types of portfolios ranging from low to high risk: stable value lifestyle, conservative lifestyle, balanced lifestyle, growth lifestyle and aggressive lifestyle.
Fairport uses an open architecture platform which means your portfolio has a full range of investment possibilities. Like most modern financial advisors, Fairport build diverse and global portfolios.
Carnegie Investment Counsel
The second fee-only firm on our list, Carnegie Investment Counsel, has operated since 1974. The firm has $1.4 billion in assets under management and offers portfolio management, wealth management and retirement plan services for clients who meet the minimum annual fee of $2,500. This is the lowest minimum out of the first four firms.
Carnegie has additional offices in New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Fort Myers, Florida and Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio.
Carnegie Investment Counsel Background
Founded as Carnegie Capital Management Corporation in 1974, the firm has been a registered investment advisor since 1991. In December 2017, Carnegie merged with Midwest Investment Management. The firm is owned by Gary Wagner, Richard Alt and Arthur Merriman, III. Wagner is the COO, has an MBA from Kent State University and is an accredited investment fiduciary (AIF). Alt is the chief investment officer and has more than 25 years of experience in investment management. Merriman is a senior portfolio manager and a chartered financial advisor (CFA).
There are 35 people who work at the Cleveland office, including one certified financial planner (CFP) and seven CFAs.
Carnegie Investment Counsel
Carnegie Investment advisors use charting, fundamental, technical and cyclical analysis to evaluate securities. The firm provides advice on equities, bonds, fixed income, mutual funds, debt securities, ETFs, real estate, hedge funds, third-party money managers, REITs, insurance
products including annuities, private placements and government securities, according to paperwork filed with the SEC.
Each portfolio at Carnegie is constructed to match client situations. That means the firm doesn’t use pre-made portfolios from a larger company, such as LPL Financial, a practice common at some firms. Instead, the firm has its own investment committee.
Wellspring Financial Advisors
Wellspring Financial Advisors, another fee-only firm, states that clients with at least $10 million in investable assets are the best fit for the firm. This makes Wellspring have the highest asset minimum out of the entire Cleveland list. The firm has $1.2 million in assets under management and has eight advisors. In operation since 2007, the firm offers services such as financial planning, income tax planning, business succession and family office services.
Wellspring Financial Advisors Background
Michael Novak, Donna Thrane and Hedy Demsey own the firm. Novak, a certified public accountant (CPA) and personal financial specialist (PFS), founded the firm with Thrane. He is the managing director and has spent his entire career as a personal wealth manager. Thrane, CPA and PFS, has over 20 years of experience working with high-net-worth individuals and families. Before co-founding the firm, she worked at Ernst & Young, one of the largest tax and consulting firms in the world. Demsey, also a CPA, joined the firm in 2009 and has experience with high-net-worth families as well as income tax and estate planning. Thirteen additional employees work for the firm: two are certified financial planners (CFPs) and one is a chartered financial analyst.
Wellspring Financial Advisors Investment Strategy
The firm considers diversification, quality, liquidity and transparency as the four main drivers of its investment strategy. When building your portfolio, Wellspring advisors first consider your risk tolerance, time horizon, preferences and objectives. This is known as the “analysis” phase. Architecture is step two. Your advisors will create an investment policy statement and propose strategic allocation guidelines. Implementation is step three. At this stage your portfolio is funded and set. The last phase is monitoring and reporting. Your advisors will periodically send you performance reports, outlooks and tax-related documents. You’ll verify that your investment policy is accurate and your portfolio is rebalanced as needed.
Wellspring generally invests your assets primarily in mutual funds and ETFs.
NCA Financial Planners
This fee-based firm, founded in 1989 has $802 million in assets under management. NCA Financial Planners generally requires new clients to have a minimum of $100,000 in investable assets. The firm of 24 advisors offers investment planning, financial planning, tax planning, retirement planning, estate planning and risk management.
NCA Financial Planners Background
Kevin Myeroff, president and CEO, owns the majority of the company. He has more than 30 years of experience in the financial services industry and is a certified public accountant (CPA) and a certified financial planner (CFP).
The two minority owners of the company are Carole Weinberg and Patrick Lehman, both senior financial advisors. Lehman is a CFP and Weinberg is a CPA.
The firm has 13 additional employees, including seven CFPs, one CPA, one certified funds specialist and one certified divorce financial advisor.
NCA Financial Planners Investment Services
NCA Financial Planners will discuss your financial goals and objectives and other financial particulars to determine the best portfolio plan for you. The firm primarily invests in mutual funds, and to a much lesser extent ETFs and individual stocks and bonds. The firm uses a company called Royal for investment advisory services. This includes wealth management platforms called Vision2020. These platforms include model portfolios, which are template portfolios that correspond to a particular risk tolerance and time horizon, in general.
St. Clair Advisors
With a $2.5 million minimum account requirement, St. Clair Advisors has the second-highest minimum requirement on this list after Wellspring Financial Advisors, the No. 5 firm. Founded in 2010, the fee-based firm offers services such as investment advisory, wealth transfer, family office and tax planning and compliance.
The firm of two advisors manages has $525 million in assets under management. Typical clients include business owners, wealthy families and corporate executives.
St. Clair Advisors Background
Ronald Bates, certified financial planner (CFP) and certified public accountant (CPA), founded the firm in 2010 with David Sommer, certified investment management analyst (CIMA). Bates serves as CEO and Sommer as the chief investment officer and senior managing director. Both worked for divisions of PNC Bank prior to founding the firm. The third partner in the firm is Craig Steinbrink, CIMA, who became a part-owner in 2014.
Six additional professionals work for St. Clair, including one additional CPA.
St. Clair Advisors Investment Strategy
Portfolios at St. Clair will generally contain diversified investments. This includes mutual funds, ETFs, individual stocks and bonds, fixed-income instruments, debt securities, real estate, hedge funds, REITs and government securities. Before constructing your portfolio, you’ll discuss your risk tolerance and other financial factors with your advisor. According to St. Clair paperwork filed with the SEC, the firm “believes that effective diversification requires an investment policy that goes beyond the traditional asset classes of equities and fixed income, and includes ‘alternative’ asset classes that may exhibit diverse correlations to both stocks and bonds.”
The firm has five distinct investment objectives that correspond to different risk tolerances and financial goals: capital preservation, conservative, moderate, growth and aggressive growth.
Financial Management Strategies
Financial Management Strategies is the first firm on the list so far that has no asset minimum for new clients and no minimum annual fee. That makes the firm much less exclusive than many on our Cleveland list. Founded in 1999, Financial Management Strategies has 17 advisors and offers investment management, financial planning and retirement plans. The fee-based firm has $265 million in assets under management.
Financial Management Strategies Background
The firm is owned by Jeffrey Knox, president and founder. He has over 30 years of experience in the financial services industry, and is a chartered financial consultant (ChFC), chartered life underwriter (CLU) and has a law degree from Cleveland State University. Knox also owns Plancorp Inc, and is a branch manager for Cetera Advisor Networks.
His team of 23 includes three certified financial planners (CFPs), four CLUs, one certified public accountant (CPA) and four ChFCs.
Financial Management Strategies Investment Approach
This firm has seven template portfolios that are generally used if a client fits a certain investment goal or risk tolerance. The portfolios are: total return, aggressive growth, capital accumulation, balanced, income and capital preservation, bond and short-term income fund. In general, Financial Management Strategies uses mutual funds and ETFs for investments.
Lineweaver Financial Group
Formed in 2014, the fee-based Lineweaver Financial Group is the youngest firm on this list. The firm of five advisors has $257 million in assets under management and offers investment management, financial planning, wealth management and portfolio consulting. This is the second firm on the list to have no minimum assets required.
Lineweaver Financial Group Background
James Lineweaver is the founder, owner and CEO of his namesake company. He’s a certified financial planner (CFP) and accredited investment fiduciary (AIF). Lineweaver has worked in the financial services field since 1993.
While the firm has 18 additional employees, you won’t find the certifications found at other Cleveland firms such as chartered financial analyst (CFA) or certified public accountant (CPA). Lineweaver is the only CFP at the firm.
Lineweaver Financial Financial Planning
Advisors at this firm follow a nine-step financial planning process. The first step is discovery and goal setting. This is where you’ll share your financial details, including your goals and objectives, risk tolerance, time horizon and liquidity needs. Step two is real-time analysis. Your advisor will evaluate your insurance, investments, taxes and more. Next comes gap identification for any problems with your current finances. The fourth step is solution review. Your advisor will present you with ideas for your plan. Step five puts the plan into place with program implementation. Step six is your wealth watch plan. This is your executed, custom plan. Next is document organization, then performance monitoring and the final, ongoing step is regular reviews.
Winfield Associates, the fourth fee-only firm on this list, was founded in 1997 and has $203 million in assets under management. The firm requires new clients to have at least $500,000 in investable assets and offers investment management, private wealth advisory and pension consulting services. The five advisor firm has offices in Cleveland and San Diego. Typical clients are business owners, retirees, business professionals, private investors and endowments and foundations.
Winfield Associates Background
Four individuals own the firm: William Baker, president and CEO, Christopher Baker, CFO and chief compliance officer, Thomas Baker, director, and Mark Haley, vice president. William Baker holds the chartered financial analyst (CFA) designation and has spent 51 years in investment management.
The firm’s six additional employees include three more CFAs. There are no certified financial planners (CFPs) on the firm’s staff.
Winfield Associates Investment Strategy
This firm uses asset allocation, fundamental analysis and qualitative analysis to guide portfolios. Asset allocation is the popular philosophy for most financial advisors. It stems from modern portfolio theory that emphasizes the importance of broad diversification across asset classes for the best possible result over time. Your portfolio’s asset allocation of equities, fixed income instruments, alternatives and cash is dependent on your investment goals, risk tolerance and liquidity requirements.