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First Financial Group Review

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This review was produced by SmartAsset based on publicly available information. The named firm and its financial professionals have not reviewed, approved, or endorsed this review and are not responsible for its accuracy. Review content is produced by SmartAsset independently of any business relationships that might exist between SmartAsset and the named firm and its financial professionals, and firms and financial professionals having business relationships with SmartAsset receive no special treatment or consideration in SmartAsset’s reviews. This page contains links to SmartAsset’s financial advisor matching tool, which may or may not match you with the firm mentioned in this review or its financial professionals.

First Financial Group is a fee-based firm headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina. The financial advisor offers both discretionary and non-discretionary portfolio management, financial planning and portfolio consulting services. It works with hundreds of clients, all of whom are individuals. This firm is on the smaller side.

First Financial Group Background

Tommy Lewis, First Financial Group's founder and president, established the firm in 1994. The firm offers advice on a range of investments. These include mutual funds, equity securities, corporate debt securities, certificates of deposit (CDs), municipal securities, investment company securities, U.S. government securities, options contracts on securities and commodities and others. 

Though the financial advisor chiefly offers portfolio management, financial planning and portfolio consulting services, it also provides asset preservation and protection services.

First Financial Group Client Types and Minimum Account Sizes

The firm provides investment advisory services for individuals, trusts, estates, corporations and other business entities. Currently, however, it only has individual accounts.

First Financial generally requires a $325,000 account minimum. The firm may waive the value for clients who have the potential to increase their AUM. It may also combine account values, between family members or spouses, to help clients meet the minimum. 

Services Offered by First Financial Group

First Financial’s services include:

  • Portfolio management
  • Financial planning
    • Broad-based planning
    • Annual retainer services 
    • General consulting services 
  • Portfolio consulting
    • Quarterly portfolio reviews
    • In-person reviews
  • Asset preservation and protection
    • Insurance policies
    • Life
    • Disability 
    • LTC insurance policies

Investment Philosophy

FIRST Financial believes in tailoring its investment advice to meet each client’s specific investment objectives. The firm touts on its website that it works to empower clients to make smarter financial decisions and that it prioritizes every client’s unique financial situation. At the beginning of each advisory relationship, the firm says it uses client factors such as risk tolerance and other factors to determine the appropriate investment strategy. 

When making investment decisions, the firm may also use investment methods such as fundamental analysis, cyclical analysis, margin transactions and long-term purchases. 

Fees Under First Financial Group

For portfolio management services, the firm bases its fee on a percentage of AUM. The annual fee is billed and payable quarterly in advance, based on your account value on the last trading day of the previous quarter. Fees are generally negotiable, and the firm may quote a fixed fee for smaller accounts. The firm may also combine family accounts to determine the necessary advisory fee. 

For portfolio consulting services, FIRST financial also bases its annual fee on a percentage of client assets. The fee is billed quarterly in advance, and the firm may negotiate rates depending on individual client circumstances. The firm’s financial planning services consist of broad-based planning, annual retainer services and general consulting services. The fee for broad-based planning is $3,500, and it’s payable in advance. Clients will pay $4,000 for annual retainer services, while the firm’s general consulting services run for a negotiable fee of $500 per hour.

The fee schedules for portfolio management and portfolio consulting are shown below:

Portfolio Management and Consulting Fee Schedule
AUM Annual Fee
Up to $249,000 2.00%
$250,000 - $999,999 1.50%
Greater than $1,000,000 1.00%

If you're thinking of becoming a client, here's what you might expect to pay in fees over the course of a year. 

*Estimated investment management fees do not include brokerage, custodial, third-party manager or other fees, which can vary in amount.
Estimated Investment Management Fees at First Financial Group*
Your Assets First Financial Group Fee Amounts
$500K $8,750
$1MM $16,250
$5MM $56,250
$10MM $106,250

What to Watch Out For

There isn’t much to be wary of when it comes to First Financial. The firm doesn’t have any disclosures, and it has a fiduciary duty to its clients. It is, however, on the smaller side, so if you'd like to work with a big institution, you should look elsewhere.

Opening an Account With First Financial Group

If you’re interested in investing with First Financial, you can contact the firm’s client services email, or you can visit the firm’s office. You can also set up an appointment with an advisor by calling (919) 876-4926.

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

Tips for Becoming a Better Investor

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  • Before you make an investment, you’ll want to consider things like your risk tolerance, time horizons and investment objectives. This will ease the process of asset allocation. If you’d like to see how much your investments could potentially earn over time, consider using SmartAsset’s investment calculator.

How Long $1mm 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 We analyzed data on average expenditures for seniors, cost of living and investment returns to determine how many years of retirement a $1 million nest egg would cover in cities across America.

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%. 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