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Cornerstone Advisors Review

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Cornerstone Advisors, Inc.

Cornerstone Advisors is a financial advisor firm headquartered in Bellevue, Washington. It currently has more than $3.9 billion in assets under management (AUM). The firm has over 1,200 clients, including individuals, high-net-worth individuals, investment companies and pooled investment vehicles. Cornerstone Advisors specializes in wealth management services, which could include financial planning and consulting.

Cornerstone Advisors is a fee-only firm. This means that all earnings come from advisory fees paid by clients. That's in contrast with a fee-based firm, which may earn income from additional outlets, such as insurance and securities commissions. By eschewing such outside sources of income, fee-only firms like Cornerstone can avoid many conflicts of interest.

Cornerstone Advisors Background

Cornerstone Advisors was founded in 1984 in Bellevue, Washington. The firm is owned by its employees, with no single individual owning more than a quarter of the firm. Recently, Cornerstone combined with a family office firm called Pathstone, creating a massive registered investment advisory (RIA) firm.

There are a ton of advisors working here. Among them are several certified financial planners (CFPs), chartered financial analysts (CFAs) and certified public accountants (CPAs). Other certifications include chartered financial consultant (ChFC) and chartered alternative investment analyst.

Cornerstone Advisors Client Types and Minimum Account Sizes

Cornerstone Advisors works with more than 1,200 clients, roughly three-quarters of whom are individuals below the high-net-worth mark. The firm’s client base is rounded out by high-net-worth individuals, banking institutions, investment companies and pooled investment vehicles.

There is no minimum account size at Cornerstone Advisors. The firm does, however, impose minimum annual fees, which depend on the services you’re receiving. The minimum fees for wealth management, consulting and family office services are $10,000, $5,000 and $50,000, respectively. For clients with a lower net worth, these minimum fees could make Cornerstone’s services cost prohibitive.

Services Offered by Cornerstone Advisors

Cornerstone Advisors has a wide range of offerings, including wealth management, family office and consulting services, as well as the selection of third-party managers. The firm uses wealth management as an umbrella term for investment planning and ongoing portfolio management, which the firm provides on a discretionary basis only.

Family office services can involve:

  • Risk management
  • Comprehensive financial planning, including income tax and estate planning
  • Bill-paying services
  • Philanthropy/charitable gift planning
  • Coordination of outside consultants, including bookkeepers, attorneys, private bankers, accountants, insurance advisors and family education advisors

Cornerstone Advisors Investment Philosophy

Cornerstone Advisors subscribes to modern portfolio theory (MPT), a popular approach which emphasizes asset diversification to maximize returns for a given level of risk (or minimize risk for an expected level of return).

Cornerstone Advisors tailors its investment approach to optimize long-term results rather than focusing on maximizing short-term earnings.

Fees Under Cornerstone Advisors

Cornerstone Advisors generally charges advisory fees based on a percentage of clients’ AUM. The exact rate you’ll receive can vary depending on the size of your account.

Family Office Fees
Assets Under Management (AUM) Annual Fee
$5MM - $10MM $50,000, plus 0.60% of amount over $5MM
$10MM - $25MM $80,000, plus 0.40% of amount over $10MM
$25MM - $50MM $140,000, plus 0.30% of amount over $25MM
Above $50MM $215,000, plus 0.20% of amount over $50MM

Check out the table below to see how Cornerstone Advisors’ fees compare to the rest of the industry. Note that these fees are only estimates and actual costs may vary.

Estimated Fee Comparison*
Your Assets Cornerstone Advisors Portfolio Management Fees National Median Advisory Fees**
$500K $10,000 $5,000
$1MM $10,000 $8,500 - $10,000
$5MM $42,500 $25,000 - $32,500
$10MM $67,000 $50,000
*Fee estimates only consider the maximum base fees for the services each firm provides. You may also pay manager fees and other fees, which can vary in amount. **All figures are based on median fee levels according to Bob Veres' 2017 Planning Profession Fee Survey. The above estimates solely take into account AUM-only fees. Total costs will likely be higher due to additional expenses.

What To Watch Out For

Cornerstone Advisors has no disclosures listed on its Form ADV, meaning it has a clean legal and regulatory record.

It's worth noting a few things about Cornerstone. First, since it just merged with another RIA, many of its current fees, minimums and other factors may be subject to change in the near future. As of now, it's important to note that while the firm doesn't require a minimum account balance, its minimum annual fees may make working with the firm unrealistic. It's also important to note that the firm does take performance-based fees from certain accounts.

Opening an Account With Cornerstone Advisors

There are a few different ways you can get in touch with Cornerstone Advisors. You can call the firm’s toll free phone number at (888) 762-1442. You can also visit the firm’s website and fill out the contact form with your name, email address, phone number and a short message. If you prefer to do things in person, you can also drop by one of its offices in either Bellevue or Anchorage.

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

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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.

Least
Most
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