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Creative Planning Review

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Creative Planning, Inc.

Creative Planning, Inc. is one of the largest financial advisor firms in Kansas and the U.S. Its 344 advisors have more than $36.5 billion in client assets under management (AUM). The firm’s headquarters are in Overland Park, Kansas, though it also runs 24 other office locations around the country. The premier services available at Creative Planning are wealth management, financial planning, estate planning, retirement planning and more. It is a fee-based firm.

This firm has won multiple titles from various financial publications. In 2017, Barron’s named Creative Planning the “No. 1 Independent Wealth Management Firm in America.” Furthermore, from 2014 to 2018, the Financial Times named Creative Planning to its list of the top RIAs in America.

Creative Planning Background

Creative Planning is under the ownership of Peter Mallouk. Mallouk is the president and co-chief investment officer (CIO) of the firm. Although the firm was originally founded in 1983, Mallouk didn’t acquire it until 2003. Additionally, Mallouk held the title of top independent financial advisor in America from 2013 to 2015.

Across the 344 advisory employees at Creative Planning, there are a number of certifications. These include certified financial planners (CFPs), certified investment management analysts (CIMAs), chartered retirement planning counselors (CRPCs), certified public accountants (CPAs) and more.

What Types of Clients Does Creative Planning Accept?

Individuals are far and away the most common client type at Creative Planning. In fact, they make up more than 70% of its client base. Outside of this group, Creative Planning works with high-net-worth individuals, pension and profit-sharing plans, businesses, charitable organizations, trusts, estates, foundations and endowments.

Creative Planning Minimum Account Size

The minimums at Creative Planning vary depending on the type of services you’re looking for. Here are the firm’s minimum requirements:

  • Financial planning services: $500,000
  • Automated Investment Program: $5,000
    • Must have a $50,000 account balance to enroll in tax-loss harvesting

Services Offered by Creative Planning

Creative Planning’s services are incredibly widespread. Here’s a breakdown of what this firm can offer you:

  • Private wealth management
    • General investment management
  • Financial planning
    • Long-term financial goal planning
    • Investment management
    • Tax planning
    • Risk management and insurance planning
    • Retirement planning
    • Estate planning
    • Long-term care planning
    • Debt management
  • 401(k) services
    • 401(k) and profit-sharing plan consulting
    • Fiduciary services
    • Plan design
    • Employee education programs
    • Investment committee oversight
    • Plan fund performance reviews and comparisons
  • Institutional services
    • Tax minimization strategies
    • Risk management
    • Asset allocation and spending analysis
    • Research and trustee education
    • Portfolio liquidity management
    • Grant operations assistance
    • Investment policy statement (IPS) design
    • Manager evaluation and selection
  • Automated Investment Program, with Charles Schwab
  • Specialized services for ultra-affluent clients

Creative Planning Investment Philosophy

Creative Planning looks to tailor its investment strategies to the needs of its clientele. To do this, the firm takes stock of your ultimate financial goals. In turn, your advisory team will build an investment plan to help you reach those goals. On top of this, the firm will take into account your risk tolerance, liquidity needs and time horizon.

For the most part, Creative Planning assembles investment portfolios using stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), bonds, mutual funds and alternative investments. Rather than stick to one or two specific securities, the firm will diversify your funds across a collection of investments. It does this to protect your money from harsh market crashes.

In some cases, your advisor may adjust their investment strategy. This includes special situations, like inheritances, stock options, legacy holdings and unique tax considerations.

Fees Under Creative Planning

The vast majority of fees Creative Planning charges operate on an annualized, asset-based fee schedule. In other words, the value of your portfolio dictates what rates you pay. The more assets you have invested with the firm, the lower the percentage drops.

Although the rates below are in annual percentages, the firm charges them on a quarterly basis, in arrears. Your exact payments will be based on either the fair market value or an agreed upon value of your assets on the last business day of each calendar quarter.

Portfolio Management Fees
Assets Under Management Annual Fee
First $500,000 1.20%
$500,001 - $2,000,000 1.00%
$2,000,001 - $5,000,000 0.85%
$5,000,001 - $10,000,000 0.80%
$10,000,001 - $25,000,000 0.70%
$25,000,001 - $50,000,000 0.40%
$50,000,001 - $100,000,000 0.30%
Over $100,000,000 0.25%

The fees associated with the firm’s financial planning services operate quite a bit differently. More specifically, if you have more than $500,000 in AUM at the firm, it will comprehensively include financial planning in your portfolio management service. Under other circumstances, the firm may charge you a $1,500 to $15,000 fixed fee.

Check out the table below to see how Creative Planning’s fees for its management services compare to those at similar financial advisor firms. Note that these fees are only estimates and actual costs may vary.

*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.
Estimated Fee Comparison*
Your Assets Creative Planning Portfolio Management Services National Median Advisory Fees**
$500K $6,000 $5,000
$1MM $11,000 $8,500 - $10,000
$5MM $46,500 $25,000 - $32,500
$10MM $86,500 $50,000

What to Watch Out For

Many times, clients leaving a job will have assets in a 401(k) account that they must decide what to do with. As a result of this, Creative Planning may recommend that you roll over your funds into a retirement account that the firm manages. Because Creative Planning will earn a fee for doing so, this creates a conflict of interest. Despite this, the firm abides by fiduciary duty, and therefore must act in your best interest at all times.


In 2018, the SEC alleged that Creative Planning, Inc. and firm president Peter Mallouk distributed radio advertisements that contained within them client testimonials that went against the firm’s code of ethics. Consequently, the SEC issued a cease-and-desist order, a censure and a civil penalty of $200,000. The SEC also issued Mallouk a cease-and-desist order, as well as a $50,000 civil penalty. Both parties consented to these sanctions.

Opening an Account With Creative Planning

To join forces with Creative Planning, you can either call its headquarters in Kansas at (866) 909-5148, email cpi@creativeplanning.com or visit one of its 25 offices. If you’d prefer, the firm also boasts a “Request a Meeting” form on its website that asks for some personal information before it offers you a free consultation.

Where Is Creative Planning Located?

Creative Planning’s main office is in Overland Park, Kansas at 5454 West 110th Street. You can stop by any one of its other 24 branches scattered throughout California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas and Washington.

Tips for Choosing a Financial Advisor

  • Finding the right financial advisor that fits your needs doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.  
  • Consider financial advisors' certifications, which can be indicative of an advisor's area of expertise and level of experience. For example, if you want some help with life insurance or estate planning, a chartered life underwriter (CLU) might be a good fit. If you're concerned about tax planning, consider a certified public accountant (CPA).

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