Finding a Top Financial Advisor Firm in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Choosing a financial advisor is tough. You have so many options and it can be hard to sort through them all. That’s why SmartAsset compiled a list of all the top advisors in the Fort Lauderdale area. We researched each firm to give you a detailed look at the top five in your area. Keep reading to find the best firm for your financial needs.
How We Found the Top Financial Advisor Firms in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
The firms on this list are all registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commision (SEC). SEC-registered firms are fiduciaries, and are under government rules and regulations. Firms with disclosures or disciplinary issues were cut from the list as well as any firm that didn’t manage individual accounts. The final five are ordered from most assets under management to least.
Emerald Asset Advisors
Emerald Asset Advisors comes in at the top of our Fort Lauderdale list with $338 million in assets under management. This five-advisor firm is fee-based and located in Weston, Florida, a suburb of Fort Lauderdale. You’ll need deep pockets to become a client here, with the minimum new account requirement set at $1 million, the highest minimum on this list (shared by the No. 2 and No. 3 firms, as well). Emerald Asset services include financial planning, portfolio management and family office services.
Emerald Asset Advisors Background
Scot Hunter, Allan Budelman and Melissa Budelman are the primary owners of the firm. Hunter is Emerald Asset’s founder and CEO. He is a chartered financial consultant (ChFC) and has worked in the financial services industry since 1984.
Allan Budelman is a managing partner and principal advisor. He has 20-plus years of investment experience and worked at JP Morgan and Chase Manhattan prior to joining Emerald Asset in 1998. Budelman has an MBA from University of Miami. Melissa Budelman, the third owner, serves as the chief compliance officer and COO. She worked for Citi until 2015 when she joined Emerald Asset.
Seven additional employees work at the firm, including a certified financial planner (CFP). This firm doesn’t have any chartered financial analysts (CFAs) or certified public accountants, two common certifications found at financial advisories.
Emerald Asset Advisors Investment Strategy
Advisors at this top Florida firm concentrate on the following investment benefits: an absolute return objective, low correlation to the global stock and bond markets, low volatility relative to the stock market, competitive upside capture with limited downside capture and flexible investment styles. To accomplish this, Emerald Asset mostly invests your money in mutual funds and ETFs. This means less of an emphasis on building a portfolio of individual stocks, and more of a robo-advising approach, where your money is almost entirely in funds.
That said, the firm does use an open architecture platform, according to SEC-filed paperwork. That means when allocating your portfolio, the firm can use its own model portfolios or build one from scratch depending on what will best accomplish your financial objectives.
Socius Family Office
This fee-based financial advisor has $287 million in assets under management and was formed in 2005. Like our No. 1 firm, Emerald Asset Advisors, Socius Family Office generally requires new clients to have at least $1 million in investable assets. Socius Family Office has six advisors and offers investment management, financial strategy and family office services. The firm, as indicated by its name, focuses on family office services, in particular, high-net-worth families ($1 million or more).
Socius has offices in Fort Lauderdale and Sewickley, Pennsylvania. Typical clients include affluent families, executives and entrepreneurs, the sudden wealthy and athletes and entertainers.
Socius Family Office Background
Robert Konrad is the founder and primary owner of Socius. Now, he serves as the non-executive chairman. He’s the CEO of Alterna Financial LLC, a private investment management firm (that owns 50% of Socius Family Office).
Mark Baniewicz is the CEO, president, founder and minority owner of the firm. He has an MBA from University of North Florida and is a certified financial planner (CFP). Baniewicz is a former NFL player and has lived in South Florida since 2004.
Seven additional professionals work at the firm, including a chartered financial analyst (CFA).
Socius Family Office Transparency Audit
Socius offers new clients a transparency audit for a one-time fee. The audit covers your finances in detail, and aims to identify savings worth at least 10 times the fee. The firm actually stands behind this and will return your fee if your audit doesn’t uncover that amount of savings.
The audit will give you methods for improving your tax efficiencies, reducing your investment expenses, increasing your investment performance and an effective estate strategy. Socius advisors will walk you through the audit and explain what they found. If your finances are in order, you can expect a refund. If not, the firm will give you possible solution strategies.
Tobias Financial Advisors
Tobias Financial Advisors is unique in a few ways. To start, it’s the first fee-only firm on our list, which means advisors can only receive compensation from a percentage of assets under management rather than from selling you products like insurance or mutual funds. Next, Tobias Financial is the first firm on our Fort Lauderdale list that has a woman as a majority owner and CEO. Founded in 1989, it’s also the oldest financial advisor firm on the list. Finally, it’s the first firm in our top 3 that has the financial advisor trifecta of professional certifications: certified financial planner (CFP), certified public accountant (CPA) and chartered financial analyst (CFA).
The firm has $272 million in assets under management and has five advisors. Located in Plantation, a suburb west of Fort Lauderdale, the firm offers clients with at least $1 million services such as investment management, cash flow management, retirement planning, tax planning, estate planning and pre/post divorce planning.
Tobias Financial Advisors Background
Benjamin Tobias founded Tobias Financial Advisors’ predecessor in 1980. He has a handful of credentials, including CFP, CPA with personal financial specialist designation (PFS) and accredited investment fiduciary (AIF).
Marianela Collado is the CEO and majority owner of the firm. She is a CFP and CFP/PFS and has over 15 years of experience in the tax and financial planning industry. Before joining Tobias in 2015, Collado worked at Bessemer Trust and Arthur Andersen.
Eight more people work at Tobias, including an additional CFP who is also a CFA and enrolled agent (EA).
Tobias Financial Advisors Investment Philosophy
Advisors at Tobias use fundamental and technical analysis when evaluating securities as potential investments. Overall, the focus is to manage portfolios to maintain and increase client net worth above inflation and taxes. When building your portfolio, the firm will use your objectives, time horizon, risk tolerance, cash flow needs and financial information to guide investments and allocations. Like many firms, Tobias uses globally diversified investment portfolios as the general approach. Similar to Emerald Asset Advisors, your portfolio will primarily consist of mutual funds and ETFs, rather than individual stocks, bonds and other securities.
With all the tax experience on staff (two CPAs and an EA), it’s unsurprising that the firm focuses on minimizing taxes on gains, interest, dividends and withdrawals.
Legacy Wealth Management
Established in 2014, Legacy Wealth Management (also known as LWM Advisory Services) is a fee-based firm located in Plantation, Florida. It is the youngest firm on the list. Legacy Wealth Management has nine advisors and $203 million in assets under management.
You won’t need $1 million to work with this firm like the first three firms on this list. You’ll need a minimum of $10,000 for asset management, with higher minimums for different portfolio options. Consulting and financial planning services have no minimum asset requirement. The firm offers financial planning, asset management, trust services and risk management. Legacy Wealth Management has one additional office in Miami.
Legacy Wealth Management Background
Tony DuBose is the managing principal, chief investment officer, co-founder and sole owner of Legacy Wealth Management. He has over 20 years of experience as a wealth advisor.
His team of 13 includes three certified financial planners (CFPs), one certified public accountant (CPA) and a chartered life underwriter (CLU).
Legacy Wealth Management Model Investment Portfolios
Legacy Wealth Management uses a larger financial firm for the management of client investment portfolios. This means your money will be invested in a model (template) portfolio developed and maintained by an outside firm. Each type of portfolio corresponds with an asset amount and financial objectives. At Legacy, you have the choice of an optimum market portfolio (OMP) with at least $10,000, a model wealth portfolio (MWP) which requires at least $25,000 or a personal wealth portfolio (PWP) that requires $250,000.
Northstar Financial Planner
The second fee-only firm on this list, Northstar Financial Planner, founded in 2000, has $131 million in assets under management. The firm has five advisors and is located in Plantation, Florida like Tobias Financial Advisors and Legacy Wealth Management.
The firm requires at least $500,000 for new clients and offers services such as financial planning, investment management, Florida retirement system planning and tax planning.
Northstar Financial Planner Background
Allen Giese, the firm’s founder and majority owner, is the president of Northstar Financial Planner. He’s worked as a financial advisor since 1991. Giese is a chartered financial consultant (ChFC) and chartered life underwriter (CLU).
Steve Tepper is the firm’s COO and part-owner. He’s worked for Northstar since 2007, has an MBA and is a certified financial planner (CFP). Before Northstar, he spent 20 years in the corporate world in areas such as financial planning, human resources and software development.
The entire team totals six people, with no additional certifications among the rest of the staff.
Northstar Financial Planner Investment Philosophy
According to Northstar materials, the firm sees “markets as an ally, not an adversary.” The firm goes on to say that “your portfolio will be designed to capture what the market offers in all its dimensions even as it personalized to your situation, goals and amount of risk you are willing to take.” That means your advisor will take your time horizon, risk tolerance, cash flow needs and personal financial objectives under consideration when constructing your portfolio.
Northstar is another firm that relies primarily on mutual funds when building your account. Most clients will find that the majority of their assets will be invested in mutual funds rather than a variety of asset classes.