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D.A. Davidson & Co. Review

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D.A. Davidson & Co.

D.A. Davidson & Co.

Headquartered in Great Falls, Montana, D.A. Davidson & Co. is a registered broker-dealer and investment advisor that can trace its roots back to 1934. Over the years, it has expanded by acquiring and merging with other companies, most recently with Wells Nelson & Associates in 2019. 

Today, the firm manages more than $18 billion in assets and employs 514 advisors operating out of 137 branches across the country. D.A. Davidson's financial advisors specialize in working with plan sponsors of qualified retirement plans and providing individuals with financial planning services and portfolio management programs.  

D.A. Davidson & Co. Background

D.A. Davidson & Co. has been in business since 1934. Today, it’s part of a group of companies that include the following divisions:

  • D.A. Davidson & Co.
  • Wealth Management
  • Equity Capital Markets
  • Investment Banking
  • Fixed Income Capital Markets
  • Davidson Investment Advisors
  • D.A. Davidson Trust Company
  • Davidson Fixed Income Management 

Michael Purpura is the president and head of wealth management at D.A. Davidson & Co. He joined the firm in 1996 and represents the second generation of Purpuras to serve in leadership roles with D.A. Davidson Companies. 

D.A. Davidson & Co. Client Types and Minimum Account Sizes

The firm’s financial planning division focuses on individuals, trusts, estates and charitable organizations. It also works with corporate retirement plans such as 401(k)s and other entities under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). These also may include private-sector corporations, partnerships, proprietorships and non-profit corporations. Additionally, the firm extends its services to the participants of such plans.

The company does not impose account minimums for financial planning and ERISA Retirement Plan services. For its different portfolio management programs, the minimums are typically: 

  • Managed Funds Portfolios (MFP) - $25,000 to $100,000
  • Russell Model Strategies (RMS) - $25,000
  • Separate Account Management (SAM) - $100,000
  • Managed Account Consulting (MAC) - $100,000
  • Unified Managed Account (UMA) - $250,000
  • Paragon - $50,000

Services Offered by D.A. Davidson & Co. 

Advisors with D.A. Davidson & Co. deliver services through three different main divisions. Read on for more information about each one. 

Financial Planning 

The firm offers financial planning services through the Wealth Management arm. Members of this group work with individual clients in order to construct and monitor financial plans tailored to their goals. Depending on your needs, your financial plan may cover various topics including: 

  • Estate planning
  • Saving for retirement 
  • Cash flow analysis and personal savings
  • Insurance needs

The firm’s advisors develop individual financial plans to meet all objectives within 90 days. If these goals are not achieved, the client can work with an advisor to develop a new plan. 

All financial advisors who create financial plans are also brokers with Series 65 or 66 licenses. Many are also certified financial planners (CFPs).

Retirement Plan Services 

D.A. Davidson & Co. works with pension and qualified profit-sharing plans through its ERISA Employer Plan Services division. The firm offers advice in line with the plan’s investment policy and investment selections. It also works with the plan’s fiduciaries to find vendors and monitor the continued suitability of investment options in the plan. However, the firm’s services are restricted to advice and limited consulting. It does not include: 

  • Selection of other service providers
  • Handling of brokerage activities
  • Selection of brokers to effect transactions

Wrap-Fee Investment Advisory Program 

D.A. Davidson & Co. also provides individuals with portfolio management advice through various wrap-fee programs. They include: 

Managed Funds Portfolio (MFP) - utilizes proprietary strategic asset allocation models developed by D.A. Davidson and third-party investment management models by Davidson Investment Advisors (a related firm). These models offer exposure to various asset classes, including equities, fixed income and alternative investments. Portfolios adhere to different investment styles like core, growth and value and invest in exchange-traded funds (ETFs) or exchange-traded notes (ETN).

Russell Model Strategies (RMS) - utilize asset allocation models developed by Russell Investments. These may offer exposure to different asset classes like equites, fixed income and real assets. They invest mainly in mutual funds of the Russell Funds family. Each model has a different objective. 

Separate Account Management (SAM) - involves selected third-party or affiliated investment managers. An advisor works with the client to choose a strategy that the advisor deems appropriate to the client. 

Managed Account Consulting (MAC) - clients enter dual contracts with D.A. Davidson & Co. and a third-party investment advisor. D.A. Davidson does not have discretion to make investment decisions. Instead, the outside manager provides investment management services for the client in accordance with the advisory agreement. 

Unified Managed Account (UMA) - an account that consists of multiple model portfolios provided by third-party subadvisors. They may invest in ETFs, mutual funds and ETNs.  

Paragon - D.A. Davidson and an advisor with the Paragon Program work with the client to devise an investment strategy that adheres to the client’s risk tolerance, financial goals and other financial profile factors. The Paragon manager makes all investment decisions.

D.A. Davidson & Co. Investment Philosophy

In terms of its ERISA plan services, D.A. Davidson & Co.’s philosophy extends only to the advice it provides in accordance with the plan’s established investment policy statement. 

When providing portfolio management advice through one of its many wrap-fee programs, the firm aims to employ strategies that reflect the financial profile and objectives of the client. The firm would consider various factors such as risk profile, financial assets, resources available and more. 

Fees Under D.A. Davidson & Co. 

Based on a percentage of assets under management (AUM) in the plan at the end of each quarter, fees charged to clients in the ERISA Plan Services program would depend on the scope of the services provided and negotiated with the plan sponsor. D.A. Davidson & Co. notes that to "the extent we provide fiduciary services and receive any indirect compensation by the sponsors of the investments in a plan or self-directed participant account, we will offset the amount against our fee.” 

Financial planning fees charged to individual clients depend on the nature of the services rendered. The firm does not impose a minimum financial planning fee. 

Annual fees for the firm’s portfolio management programs are also typically charged as percentages of AUM. These fees follow the fee schedule shown below. For SAM, MAC, UMA and CWAM programs, there is an additional fee to compensate the third-party investment manager or managers involved in those programs. This additional fee typically ranges from 0.20% to 0.90% annually. 

Advisory Household Value Maximum Fee
$10,000 to $249,999 1.85%
$250,000 to $499,999 1.60%
$500,000 to $999,999 1.55%
$1,000,000 to $1,999,999 1.45%
$2,000,000 to $4,999,999 1.35%
$5,000,000 to $9,999,999 1.15%
$10,000,000 + Negotiable

For comparison's sake, the industry average fee for investment management is 0.95%, according to a 2018 study of 1,500 firms by RIA in a Box. Learn more about advisors' typical costs here.

What to Watch Out For

D.A. Davidson & Co. reported 14 regulatory actions in its most recent filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Fines ranged from $7,500 to $500,000. 

In 2019, the firm was involved in a matter regarding an alleged violation of the Share Class Selection Disclosure Initiative (SCSD). According to firm’s disclosure documents, “The SEC deemed it appropriate and in the public interest that public administrative and cease-and-desist proceedings be instituted against D.A. Davidson arising from willfully violating” a regulation related to its mutual fund share class selection practices and the fees it received pursuant to Rule 12b-1 under the Investment Company Act of 1940. The firm agreed and paid a disgorgement and prejudgment interest in the amount of $654,276.41.

D.A. Davidson & Co.’s SEC filings also describe an event that took place in 2016. The SEC issued a cease-and-desist order against the firm for "willfully violating an anti-fraud provision of the federal securities laws in connection with Municipal Advisor’s underwriting of certain municipal securities offerings.” In connection to that order, D.A. Davidson & Co. paid a $500,000 fine to the SEC. 


Also worth noting: All advisors at D.A. Davidson & Co. are brokers and many are also insurance agents. These non-advisor roles can potentially present conflicts of interest. Similarly, the large firm's many affiliations pose conflicts of interest. That said, the firm states that all financial planners are fiduciaries who must always work in the best interests of the client. 


Tips for Finding the Right Financial Advisor

  • Looking to pay lower management fees? Use our matching tool to find other local advisors. It will connect you with up to three in your area.
  • Be sure to ask advisors the right questions. For example, you should know if advisors act as fiduciaries all the time. When an advisor is also a broker-dealer representative or insurance agent, this isn't always the case. 

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

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