Finding a Top Financial Advisor Firm in Columbia, Maryland
Looking for the right financial advisor is a lot like the proverbial search for a needle in a haystack. There are thousands investment advisor firms registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the U.S., including a huge selection in the Washington D.C./Philadelphia region alone. To help you narrow the field, we pulled all the firms in Columbia, Maryland, and collected such fundamentals on them as their assets under management (AUM), fee basis and investment strategy. Then we put all the info together, here, for convenient comparing and contrasting. Start your search with this list of the top financial advisor firms in Columbia, Maryland. Then use SmartAsset’s free financial advisor matching tool to expand your search.
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|Baltimore-Washington Financial Advisors, Inc. Find an Advisor
|No set account minimum
Minimum AssetsNo set account minimum
|Keeney Financial Group Inc. Find an Advisor
|Lowe Wealth Advisors, LLC Find an Advisor
|FAI Wealth Management Find an Advisor
What We Use in Our Methodology
To find the top financial advisors in Columbia, we first identified all firms registered with the SEC in the city. Next, we filtered out firms that don't offer financial planning services, those that don't serve primarily individual clients and those that have disclosures on their record. The qualifying firms were then ranked according to the following criteria:
- AUMFirms with more total assets under management are ranked higher.
- Individual Client CountFirms who serve more individual clients (as opposed to institutional clients) are ranked higher.
- Clients Per AdvisorFirms with a lower ratio of clients per financial advisor are ranked higher.
- Age of FirmFirms that have been in business longer are ranked higher.
All information is obtained through public records and is updated annually after the firms’ form ADV filing. This list may include firms that have a business relationship with SmartAsset, in which SmartAsset is compensated for lead referrals. Such relationships have no impact on our rankings, and firms are included and ranked based strictly on the above criteria. SmartAsset is not a client of the aforementioned firms, and did not receive compensation for including any of the firms on the aforementioned list.
Baltimore-Washington Financial Advisors, Inc.
Baltimore-Washington Financial Advisors (BWFA) is the top-rated financial advisory firm in Columbia. This fee-only practice oversees more than $1 billion in assets mostly on a discretionary basis. Its team includes certified financial planners (CFPs), certified public accountants (CPAs), certified divorce financial analysts (CDFAs), chartered financial consultants (ChFCs) and others.
BWFA has no minimum investment account size. It serves individuals who have a high net worth, as well as those who don't. The firm also works with trusts, estates, foundations, charitable organizations, businesses and corporations.
As a fee-only firm, BWFA advisors do not sell securities or insurance products. The firm only receives compensation directly from clients for the advisory services it provides.
Baltimore-Washington Financial Advisors Background
BWFA was founded in 1986. President and CEO Rob Carpenter became the owner in 2012. Two employees - chief operating officer Joseph Manifredi and director of client services Meghan Manas - have small stakes.
The firm offers investment management services, financial planning, financial planning for business owners, tax planning and preparation and employer-sponsored retirement plan services.
Baltimore-Washington Financial Advisors Investment Strategy
BWFA offers three model portfolios that range in risk level: capital appreciation, conservative growth, and growth and income. In special situations, advisors may customize a client’s model. Each model has positions in approximately 80 to 100 securities, which the firm believes are undervalued.
The firm aims to achieve strong performance over multiple market cycles and its core investment time horizon is typically three to five years.
Keeney Financial Group Inc.
Keeney Financial Group, No. 2 on our list, is a full-service, fee-based firm, meaning most of its advisors are also brokers and insurance agents. The Keeney team features the following professional designation: certified retirement planning counselor (CRPC), certified retirement plan specialist (CRPS), certified income specialist (CIS), certified financial planner (CFP) and chartered investment management analyst (CIMA). (Advisors may hold more than one certification.)
People who do not have a high net worth make up a majority of Keeney Financial’s individual clientele. The practice also works with trusts, charitable organizations, foundations, pensions and corporations. It requires a $500,000 minimum investment to open an account, though it may lower the amount at its discretion.
As a fee-based firm, advisors earn commissions when selling securities or insurance. This creates a conflict of interest, because advisors have a financial incentive to recommend certain products over others. However, the firm must abide by fiduciary duty and always act in your best interests.
Keeney Financial Group Background
John Keeney founded the firm in 1998, and registered it as an investment advisor in 2015. He is the sole owner of the business and serves as president.
Keeney Financial offers discretionary investment management services. In special circumstances, it will provide them on a non-discretionary basis. The firm also provides financial planning on a fixed-fee basis.
Keeney Financial Group Investment Strategy
For each client, the practice generally selects one of five investment programs or asset allocation strategies based on the client’s profile and objectives. They range from income with capital preservation to aggressive growth. Keeney financial takes a bottom-up approach to securities analysis and follows Modern Portfolio Theory. For smaller accounts, the firm may recommend third-party managers.
Lowe Wealth Advisors, LLC
With two Lowes on board, Lowe Wealth Advisors is a family shop. The father-and-son duo and four other advisors oversee hundreds of millions in assets under management. The team includes several certified financial planners (CFPs).
While the firm requires a minimum investment of $250,000, it may way this requirement. The majority of individual clients do not have a high net worth, although many do. In addition to individuals, Lowe Wealth Advisors also serves pension and profit-sharing plans, charitable organizations, trusts and estates.
At least one advisor on staff a licensed insurance agent who may earn commissions when recommending insurance products. As a result, the firm is considered fee-based. This form of commission-based compensation can create a conflict of interest, as the advisor has a financial incentive to recommend certain services over others. Then again, Lowe Wealth Advisors is a fiduciary and must always serve your best interests.
Lowe Wealth Advisors Background
Harold Lowe originally named the firm Lowe FS, LLC when he founded it in 2011. He renamed it in 2016, shortly after his son Gregory became part owner of the company that directly owns the firm. The elder Lowe serves as president and the younger Lowe serves as vice president and chief operating officer.
The firm offers investment management services, financial planning or both (which it calls wealth management services). It also provides advisory services specifically for people in the medical profession. Additionally, Lowe Wealth advises retirement plans.
Lowe Wealth Advisors Investment Strategy
Considering itself the watchman for its clients, the advisory breaks down its investment process into six steps: analyze, diversify, evaluate, execute, confirm and rebalance. It uses fundamental and technical analyses when evaluating securities. And it may utilize long-term purchases (holding securities for at least a year), short-term purchases (selling securities within a year), trading (selling securities within 30 days) and options.
FAI Wealth Management
FAI Wealth Management, short for Financial Advantage, Inc., is a fee-only firm that primarily serves individual clients, both above and below the high-net-worth threshold. The firm employs advisors with various professional designations and accreditations, such as certified financial planner (CFP), chartered financial analyst (CFA), certified public accountants (CPA), accredited investment fiduciary (AIF) and accredited asset management specialist (AAMS). (Some advisors may have multiple designations.)
FAI Wealth requires a minimum $500,000 to open an investment account, though it may waive the requirement at its discretion. The firm charges asset-based fees for portfolio management,
FAI Wealth Management Background
J. Michael Martin founded FAI Wealth in 1987. Today, it’s owned to varying degrees by Mark Stinson (president), Curtis R. Gross (chief investment officer) and Andrew L. Smith (vice president).
The firm considers financial planning the centerpiece of its services. It offers it in conjunction with discretionary investment management services, on a stand-alone basis or as ongoing consulting services. It also provides retirement plan consulting.
FAI Wealth Management Investment Strategy
Strategies vary depenidng on the client's profile and goals. FAI Wealth generally formulates its advice using fundamental, cyclical and charting methods of analysis. Also, it may use long-term trading (holding securities for at least a year), short-term trading (selling securities within a year) and option writing.