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Highland Capital Management Review

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Highland Capital Management, LLC

Highland Capital Management, LLC is a large advisory firm headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee, with branches in Mobile, Alabama, and in Orlando, Florida. Its 10 financial advisors provide investment management, specializing in equity and fixed income portfolios, on a discretionary basis only (clients authorize the firm to make trades at its discretion). The firm does not provide personal financial planning.

Currently, Highland Capital manages nearly $2.7 billion in assets for 575 individual clients, both high-net-worth and non-high-net-worth ones. The firm also serves charitable organizations, state or municipal government entities, 401(k) plans, pension and profit-sharing plans, trusts, corporations and other businesses. Account minimums run from zero to $1,000,000, 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. The staff of 25 people includes a chief investment officer, director of fixed income, director of equity investments, five portfolio managers, two traders, three VPs in client services and one senior VP in private wealth.

 Argent Financial Group, Inc. owns Highland Capital. Wishnia and four other executives have small (less than 5%) stakes. 

What Types of Clients Does Highland Capital Management Accept?

Highland Capital works with investors who are and aren’t high-net-worth individuals. It also serves charitable organizations, state or municipal government entities, 401(k) plans, pension and profit-sharing plans, trusts, corporations and other businesses.

Highland Capital Management Minimum Account Sizes

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 a minimum $1 million investment for its equity accounts (the Core accounts have $10 million and $20 million minimums). For institutional fixed income accounts, again, there is no minimum balance but there is a minimum $10,000 annual fee. 

Highland Capital also serves as a sub-advisor to First Tennessee Advisory Services Inc. Those accounts minimums are $1 million for an equity account and $500,000 for a fixed income one. (Additionally, the firm has a sub-advisor contract with Argent Trust Company, Argent Advisors and ICC Capital Management Advisors.)

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, Raymond James Ambassador and Outside Manager Programs. 

Highland Capital Management Investing Strategy

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 ($2 billion or more) 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 offers as strategies: 

  • Large Cap Core
  • Large Cap Value
  • Multi-Cap 
  • Large Cap Growth
  • International Equity
  • Fixed Income Ultra Short 
  • Fixed Income 1-3 Year 
  • Fixed Income Muni
  • Fixed Income Intermediate
  • Fixed Income Core
  • Core Plus
  • Multi-Cap Balanced Global
  • SMIDCap Core Alpha

Fees Under Highland Capital Management

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 Fee rate
First $5 million 1.00%
Next $10 million 0.75%
In excess of $15 million 0.50%

 

Highland Capital Managed Asset Program Fee Schedule for Traditional Fixed Income Accounts
Assets under management Fee rate
First $10 million 0.375%
In excess of $15 million 0.50%

 

Highland Capital Managed Asset Program Fee Schedule for SMID-Cap Core Alpha Accounts
Assets under management Fee rate
First $20 million 0.85%
In excess of $20 million 0.75%

What to Watch Out For

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. Similarly, if you want to be consulted before trades are made on your behalf or you want to make the trades yourself, this firm may not be the right fit for you.

Disclosures

Highland Capital has no disclosures within the past 10 years.

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.) 

Where Is Highland Capital Management Located?

As mentioned earlier, the firm’s headquarters are in Memphis. Specifically, the office is located in Crescent Center in East Memphis, next door to Regalia Shopping Center. The Mobile branch is located in The Oaks professional office building, roughly four miles from downtown. Finally, the Orlando office is in Northpoint II, a four-story office building in Lake Mary, minutes away from Lake Mary Boulevard and the I-4 interchange. 

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 even to begin your search. SmartAsset’s SmartAdvisor matching tool makes this easier for you. Simply answer questions about your financial situation and preferences and the program will match you with up to three suitable advisors.
  • 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 Many Years $1 Million 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 cost of living in retirement there.

Least
Most
Rank City Housing Expenses Food Expenses Healthcare Expenses Utilities Expenses Transportation Expenses

Methodology SmartAsset calculated the average cost of living for retirees in the largest U.S. cities. Using that calculation, we determined how many years $1 million would last in retirement in each major city.

First, we looked at data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on the average annual expenditures of seniors throughout the country. 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.

We assumed the $1 million would grow at a real return (interest minus inflation) of 2%, reflecting the typical return on a conservative investment portfolio. Finally, we divided $1 million by the sum of each of those annual numbers to determine how long $1 million would last in each of the cities in our study.

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Council for Community and Economic Research