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CUNA Brokerage Services Review

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CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc.

CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc.

CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. is a financial advisor firm with approximately $2.8 billion in assets under management (AUM). As its name suggests, it is both a broker-dealer and an investment advisor and mainly provides its services through a network of financial institutions that are mostly credit unions. Its branches number 1,079 across the country, with headquarters in Waverly, Iowa. 

As a fee-based firm, CUNA receives commissions from selling certain securities and insurance products to clients, along with customary advisory fees.

CUNA Brokerage Services Background

CUNA Brokerage Services was established in 1983, and it's a wholly owned subsidiary of CUNA Mutual Investment Corporation, which is in turn under the ownership of CMFG Life Insurance Company. Robert Trunzo is the president and CEO of CUNA Mutual.

Through its advisory relationships with credit unions and other financial institutions, this firm works with financial advisors that hold certifications like chartered retirement planning counselor (CRPC), accredited investment fiduciary (AIF), certified financial planner (CFP) and more.

CUNA Brokerage Services Client Types and Minimum Account Sizes

Through its advisory affiliates, CUNA offers services to mostly individuals below the high-net-worth threshold. Other common clients of the firm include high-net-worth individuals, retirement plans, charitable organizations, businesses, trusts and estates.

CUNA Brokerage Services has a plethora of advisory programs at its disposal. Many of these originate from other firms, but not all of them. Here's a breakdown of the minimums associated with CUNA's various offerings:

  • Managed Investment Strategies Program
    • Lockwood Investment Strategies (LIS): $250,000
    • Lockwood AdvisorFlex Portfolios (AFP): $50,000
    • Lockwood Asset Allocation Portfolios (LAAP): $50,000
  • CUNA Mutual StrategicPortfolios Platform
    • CUNA Mutual GuidedPortfolios Program (GPP): $100,000
    • FundStrategistPortfolios (FSP): $10,000 or $25,000
    • CUNA Mutual DirectPortfolios Program (DPP): Depends on selected investment managers
    • CUNA Mutual AdvisorPortfolios Program (APP): $25,000
  • AssetMark platform: $10,000 - $1,000,000

Services Offered by CUNA Brokerage Services

CUNA Brokerage Services offers a range of investment management and financial planning services to clients. Clients can choose to invest in any strategy they please, as long as they meet the requirements.

  • Managed Investment Strategies Program: This strategy includes a few advisory programs from Lockwood Advisors: the Lockwood Investment Strategies (LIS) program, the Lockwood Asset Allocation Portfolios (LAAP) program and the AdvisorFlex Portfolios (AFP) program. All of these services are investment management programs that feature either customized or model-based asset allocation plans.
  • CUNA Mutual StrategicPortfolios Platform: These include the CUNA Mutual FundStrategistPortfolios program, the CUNA Mutual GuidedPortfolios program and CUNA Mutual AdvisorPortfolios Program, which all focus on mutual fund and ETF investments. There is also the CUNA Mutual DirectPortfolios Program, which is a separately managed account option.
  • Financial planning: This services looks to help individuals with many different aspects of personal financial planning, including retirement planning, cash flow planning, credit management, education fund planning and more.

CUNA also offers their services as wrap fee programs

CUNA Brokerage Services Investment Philosophy

Since CUNA Brokerage Services provides so many different programs, platforms and strategies, the firm has a variety of different investment approaches. Strategies range from conservative to growth and utilize mutual funds and ETFs, though some focus on a wider range of securities, like stocks and bonds. The firm may also use computer software to develop financial and investment plans.

Advisors evaluate portfolios and potential investments using fundamental, technical, charting and cyclical methods of analysis. These methods are informed via primary and secondary sources of information, many of which are publically available. The firm places significant emphasis on due diligence when it comes to evaluating individual investments and overarching investment strategies.

Fees Under CUNA Brokerage Services

Fees for services at CUNA Brokerage Services vary significantly, depending on the service you subscribe to and the type of strategy that's used in the management of your money. Here's an overview of what to expect:

Managed Investment Strategies Program Fees
Program Program Fee Maximum Advisor Fee
Lockwood Investment Strategies (LIS) 0.30% - 0.75% 1.00%
Lockwood AdvisorFlex (AFP) 0.24% - 0.37% 1.00%
Lockwood Asset Allocation Program (LAAP) 0.20% - 0.40% 1.00%

 

CUNA Mutual StrategicPortfolios Platform Fees
Program Platform Fee Strategist Fee Maximum Advisor Fee Maximum Client Fee
FundStrategistPortfolios (FSP) 0.10% - 0.40% 0.02% - 0.27% 1.00% 1.37% - 1.67%
GuidedPortfolios Program (GPP) 0.15% - 0.50% 0.02% - 0.58% 1.10% 1.83% - 2.18%
DirectPorfolios Program (DPP) 0.25% - 0.60% 0.08% - 0.58% 1.10% 1.93% - 2.28%
AdvisorPortfolios Program (APP) 0.12% - 0.45%  n/a 1.10% 1.22% - 1.55%

For context, the average fee for investment managent is 0.95%, according to a 2018 study of 1,500 firms by RIA in a Box. 

Fees for financial planning services are negotiated on a case-by-case basis and will not exceed $5,000 annually. In some instances, fees may be charged at a flat or hourly rate. Fees for investment management services are calculated and paid on a quarterly basis.

What to Watch Out For

CUNA Brokerage Services has a single disclosure listed on its Form ADV. The regulatory action dates back to 2001 and involved a $100,000 fine for the firm's failure to establish proper written supervisory procedures for certain sales, maintain records showing the rationale for exchange and demonstrate reasonable efforts to obtain customer information needed to determine suitability

Another thing worth noting: Advisors at CUNA are all brokers and insurance agents. In their non-advisor roles, they earn transaction-based fees and commissions that can pose conflicts of interest. That said, the firm is legally bound by a fiduciary duty to act in clients' best interests no matter what.

Opening an Account With CUNA Brokerage Services

It's not difficult to open an account with CUNA Brokerage Services. All you need to do is go online to its website and submit a form to find an advisor at your credit union. Alternately, you can call the firm at (800) 369-2862.

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

Retirement Planning Tips

  • It can be helpful to work with a financial advisor when creating a financial plan for your future. Finding the right financial advisor for you 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.
  • When planning for retirement, don't forget to take Social Security payments into account. Although this income, alone, may not be enough for you to live on in retirement, it can still play a significant role in your retirement income plan. If you're unsure of what you might be in line to receive, check out SmartAsset's Social Security calculator.

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