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Highland Capital Management 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.

Highland Capital Management is a large advisory firm headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee, with secondary branches in Mobile, Alabama and Orlando, Florida. Its small team of financial advisors provide investment management, specializing in equity and fixed-income portfolios, on a discretionary basis only. The firm does not provide personal financial planning.

Highland Capital manages assets for over 700 individual clients, including both high-net-worth and non-high-net-worth ones. The firm also serves charitable organizations, government entities, 401(k) plans, pension and profit-sharing plans, health and welfare plans and businesses. Account minimums run from $1 million to $10 million, depending on the investment program.

Highland Capital Management Background

CEO Steve Wishnia founded the firm in 1987. He previously worked at the predecessor firm, Highland Investment Corp. Argent Financial Group, Inc. owns Highland Capital. Wishnia and four other executives have small (less than 5%) stakes. The firm's advisory team includes one chartered financial analyst (CFA).

Highland Capital Management Client Types and Minimum Account Sizes

Highland Capital works with individual investors who are and aren’t high-net-worth. It also serves charitable organizations, government entities, 401(k) plans, pension and profit-sharing plans, welfare plans and businesses.

Highland Capital's account minimums vary, depending on the investment program. For traditional fixed-income and equity accounts, there is no minimum balance, though there is a minimum annual fee of $3,750.

For its institutional clients, Highland Capital generally requires specific investments. Here's a breakdown:

  • Institutional Equity: $1,000,000
  • Institutional Balanced: $1,000,000
  • Multi-Cap Institutional Equity: $1,000,000
  • Institutional Short-Term Fixed-Income: $10,000 minimum annual fee
  • SMID-Cap Core Alpha: $10,000,000

Services Offered by Highland Capital Management

As mentioned earlier, Highland Capital only offers investment management services on a discretionary basis.

In addition to its traditional equity and fixed income accounts, the firm manages the portfolios of several wrap fee programs, in which clients can independently enroll: Wells Fargo Private Advisor Network, Morgan Stanley and Raymond James Ambassador. 

Highland Capital Management Investment Philosophy

For its equity portfolios, Highland Capital seeks to identify stocks that it believes will “generate above market returns with below market risks.” It does this by concentrating on larger-cap companies with strong financials in the S&P 500, purchasing shares when prices are a value and selling at the lower range of historic P/E valuation. In its screening process, the firm uses proprietary and quantitative models and extensive research.

The 50 equity securities it identifies make up a client’s Core Portfolio. With a historic average annual turnover below 35%, the firm will hold its positions until better alternatives appear, shares become overpriced, stock weighting becomes excessive or company or sector fundamentals begin to deteriorate. 

For fixed-income portfolios, the firm’s objective is “achieving returns that are above the market average while holding volatility at or below that of the market over an interest rate cycle.” Its strategy is to maximize exposure to the bond market in terms of maturity and duration when rates are high on a cyclical basis (typically when a recession is approaching or underway) and reduce exposure when rates are likely to rise (typically when an economy is expanding).

Highland Capital Management Fees

Highland Capital bases fees on assets under management (AUM), which are due quarterly. Fees are negotiable, but the fee schedules for the strategies it offers are generally as follows:

Highland Capital Managed Asset Program Fee Schedule for Traditional Equity Accounts
Assets Under Management Fees
First $5,000,000 1.00%
Next $10,000,000 0.75%
Above $15,000,000 0.50%


Highland Capital Managed Asset Program Fee Schedule for Traditional Fixed-Income Accounts
Assets Under Management Fees
First $10,000,000 0.375%
Above $10,000,000 0.25%


Highland Capital Managed Asset Program Fee Schedule for SMID-Cap Core Alpha Accounts
Assets Under Management Fees
All Assets 0.75%


*Estimated investment management fees do not include brokerage, custodial, third-party manager or other fees, which can vary in amount. Fee amounts are based on rates for traditional equity accounts and include minimum annual fee of $3,750.
Estimated Traditional Equity Account Fees at Highland Capital*
Your Assets Traditional Equity Account Fee
$500K $5,000
$1MM $10,000
$5MM $50,000
$10MM $87,500

What to Watch Out For

Highland Capital has no legal or regulatory disclosures present on its SEC-filed Form ADV.

As mentioned earlier, Highland Capital does not provide financial planning services. It only manages investment portfolios, and it does this only on a discretionary basis. So if you want guidance with, say, estate planning or tax planning, you may want to look for another firm. Try using SmartAsset's free financial advisor matching tool to get paired with up to three advisors in your area.

Opening an Account With Highland Capital Management

To learn more about Highland Capital Management or initiate a relationship, simply call 901-761-9500 (it’s the same number for every office.) Alternately, if you live near its offices in Memphis, Mobile or Orlando, you can go in person (you may want to call ahead to make an appointment.) 

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

Tips for Choosing a Financial Advisor

  • There are a lot of financial advisors out there, making it tough to even begin your search.Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • Before signing on to work with an advisor, do your research. Form ADV, paperwork that all registered firms must file with the SEC, is a useful resource. There you can find everything from the services a firm offers to whether it has any disclosures.

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