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Gradient Investments 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.

Gradient Investments, LLC

Gradient Investments is a fee-only firm with billions of dollars in assets under management (AUM). Headquartered in Arden Hills, Minnesota, the financial advisor offers a range of advisory services to a client base that's almost entirely composed of individual investors. 

Gradient Investments Background

The independent and privately-owned firm offers an array of money management and investment advisory services. Gradient operates under the ownership of Charles E. Lucius and Nathan Lucius. Charles Lucius is an 80% owner. Nathan Lucius Trust is a 10% owner and Luson Capital, LLC owns another 10%. 

The firm’s team includes a number of professionals who hold the chartered financial analyst (CFA) designation. 

Gradient Investments Client Types and Minimum Account Sizes

Gradient serves over 21,000 individual clients, including non-high-net-worth and high-net-worth individuals. The firm also works with several pension and profit-sharing plans.

When it comes to account minimum requirements, the minimums vary based on portfolio type. The firm requires a minimum of $25,000 for its Preservation portfolios and $50,000 for its allocation portfolios, while its strategic and tactical portfolios have a $100,000 account minimum requirement. 

Services Offered by Gradient Investments

Gradient Investments primarily offers the following advisory services:

  • Portfolio management 
  • Financial planning
  • Pension consulting 

Portfolio management is offered on a discretionary basis, meaning Gradient advisors make all buying and selling decisions within a client's portfolio. The firm offers the following portfolio types:

Preservation Portfolios: Preservation portfolios focus on price stability and capital preservation over income and growth. Preservation portfolios rely on money market mutual funds and bond exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

Allocation Portfolios: Allocation portfolios strive for diversification and invest in individual equities, as well as equity, bond and alternative ETFs. 

Strategic & Tactical Portfolios: Strategic and Tactical portfolios are both designed to achieve a stated objective. Strategic portfolios may strive for long-term capital appreciation, income or a mix of both. Tactical portfolios, meanwhile, rely on proprietary quantitative methods, as well as bond and equity ETFs. 

Gradient Investments Investment Philosophy

Gradient evaluates securities using technical, cyclical and fundamental analysis. Advisors also base investment decisions off investment research software, and the firm utilizes its proprietary Wright Investment Strategy to focus on risk exposure, investment performance and investment strategy. For its managed portfolios, the firm generally invests in ETFs, no-load mutual funds, individual equities and money market funds. 

Fees Under Gradient Investments

Gradient is mainly compensated through asset-based and fixed fees. The firm has three different fee schedules for its managed portfolio accounts. Advisors also offer advisory services through an open architecture platform. For Strategic Portfolios, the firm charges an annual advisory fee of 2% on all assets and 1.80% on all assets held in a Tactical Portfolio. Allocation and Defined Outcome Portfolios are subject to a 1.70% fee. Preservation Portfolios, meanwhile, are charged a 1% asset-based fee. Lastly, Client Directed Accounts are charged a $300 annual fee. 

What to Watch Out For

Gradient’s Form ADV only lists one disclosure, although it doesn't specify the exact violation. 

You won't need to worry about your advisor selling you financial products and services to generate commissions. That's because Gradient Investments has a fee-only fee structure, which means advisors are compensated solely for the services they provide and not for the products they recommend. 

Opening an Account With Gradient Investments

Prospective clients will have several options for opening an account with Gradient. You can either fill out the firm’s contact form on its website or you can email its inquiry-based email address at You can also set up an appointment with an advisor by contacting the firm at (888) 824-3525.

Tips for Finding a Financial Advisor

  • It’s useful to identify which areas of finance you need assistance with before working with a financial professional. Estate planning, retirement planning and investing are just a few of the wealth management services provided by advisory firms. 
  • Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can have a free introductory call with your advisor matches to decide which one you feel is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

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

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