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First Foundation Advisors Review

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First Foundation Advisors

First Foundation Advisors is a large, fee-only financial advisor firm with its headquarters in Irvine, California. The firm has just over $4.4 billion worth of client assets under management (AUM) and employs a large team of advisors to help manage that money. It works with both individual and institutional clients and provides them with comprehensive financial planning and portfolio management services.

First Foundation Advisors is listed in the number one spot on our list of the top financial advisors in the city of Irvine. First Foundation also operates as a retail bank.

First Foundation Advisors Background

First Foundation Advisors was founded in 1985, though it wasn't until 1990 that it became registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as an investment advisor. The firm was originally called Keller Group and prided itself on the fact that it was one of just a handful of firms to provide truly fee-only investment management.

First Foundation Inc., a publically traded company, owns the firm in its entirety, though the ownership of First Foundation Inc. may change regularly. John A. Hakopian is the president of First Foundation Advisors, and Rick Keller is its chairman.

First Foundation Advisors Client Types and Minimum Account Sizes

First Foundation Advisors works with a wide range of both individual and institutional clients, though the majority are individuals both with and without a high net worth. Insititutional clients include one other bank, one other investment company, one pooled investment vehicle, charitable organizations and businesses.

The firm generally requires a minumum asset base of $500,000 for advisory services. This minimum may be waived or negotiated at the firm's discretion.

Services Offered by First Foundation Advisors

First Foundation Advisors works with clients to provide both investment management services, retirement plan sponsor services and financial planning services. Investment management may be carried out in a number of different ways, such as through wrap fee programs, unified managed accounts (UMAs) or other tailored discretionary and non-discretionary accounts. The firm may use unaffiliated private investment funds, as well as other funds for which the firm serves as a sub-advisor. The firm also has multiple programs that guides its investment strategies.

Financial planning services are provided on a stand-alone basis and are as comprehensive as the client dictates. Advisors may provide advice on matters such as estate planning, investing, retirement planning and more. Advice does not have to be strictly investment-related.

First Foundation Advisors Investment Philosophy

At First Foundation Advisors, advisors tend to work with clients to provide tailored investment services and strategies based on their financial needs and objectives. Advisors meet with clients to determine important information about their financial situation before making decisions about how to properly allocate the assets in their portfolios. Advisors may also provide financial planning services in conjunction with your investment portfolio.

When it comes to selecting investments for client portfolios, advisors at the firm use fundamental, technical, charting and cyclical methods of analysis. Overall, the firm's investment strategies are focused on the long term.

Fees Under First Foundation Advisors

First Foundation Advisors charges fees for investment management services based on a series of fee schedules. Fees are based on a percentage of each client's total assets under management and the program they are invested in.

Equity and Balanced Accounts Program Fee Schedule
Portfolio Value Annual Fee
First $3MM 1.00%
Next $2MM 0.75%
More than $5MM 0.50%


Fixed Income Accounts Program Fee Schedule
Portfolio Value Annual Fee
First $2MM 0.50%
Next $3MM 0.40%
Next $5MM 0.30%
More than $10MM 0.25%


Fixed Income Short Duration Accounts Program Fee Schedule
Portfolio Value Annual Fee
First $5MM 0.25%
Next $10MM 0.20%
Next $15MM 0.15%
Next $25MM 0.10%
More than $55MM 0.05%


High Quality Core Individual Accounts Program Fee Schedule
Portfolio Value Annual Fee
First $3MM 1.00%
Next $2MM 0.90%
More than $5MM 0.80%

Certain accounts may have performance-based fee arrangements based on a share of your portfolio's capital gains. When it comes to stand-alone financial planning services, clients are typically charged on an hourly basis. This fee ranges up to $350 per hour. 

What to Watch Out For

First Foundation does not have any disclosures listed on its Form ADV.

Certain accounts may have performance-based fee arrangements with clients, which is a potential conflict of interest. That's because advisors may be inclined to take additional risks in pursuit of higher returns. However, the firm is still a fiduciary, legally obligating it to act in the best interests of clients at all times.

Opening an Account With First Foundation Advisors

There are plenty of options for opening an account with First Foundation Advisors. You can go online to see if there's an advisor or a bank branch near you. You can also call (949) 476-0300 and ask to be connected. If all else fails, you can always send an email or visit the firm's support page.

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

Tips for Finding a Financial Advisor

  • If you're getting started with investing, planning for retirement, buying a house or any other important financial milestone, it can be a good idea to speak with a financial advisor. Finding the right financial advisor 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, get started now.
  • Whether you're new to investing or have been working at it for years, it pays to know exactly what you're doing. SmartAsset can help with that. Take advantage of our free online resources today, such as our asset allocation 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