Finding a Top Financial Advisor Firm in Illinois
One of the ways you can plan for your future is by finding a financial advisor who will help you figure out your financial goals and set up a plan to achieve them. If you use a financial advisor, it’s important that it’s someone who you feel comfortable with and who has a similar investing philosophy. With that in mind, here is SmartAsset’s list of the top 10 financial advisor firms in Illinois. Determined through hours of research, this list outlines each firm’s fee structure, investing approach, services and more so you can better differentiate which firm might suit you. You can also use SmartAsset’s free financial advisor matching tool to be paired with an advisor in your area.
|Rank||Financial Advisor||Assets Managed||Minimum Assets||Financial Services||More Information|
|1||HighTower Advisors LLC Find an Advisor||$42,288,906,016|| |
No existing account minimum
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No existing account minimum
|2||Brownson, Rehmus & Foxworth, Inc. Find an Advisor||$11,241,411,000||Depends on advisor|| || |
Minimum AssetsDepends on advisor
|3||RMB Capital Management Find an Advisor||$8,226,710,874|| |
| || |
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|4||Gofen and Glossberg, LLC Find an Advisor||$4,374,988,149|| |
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|5||Zacks Investment Management, Inc. Find an Advisor||$4,201,682,745|| |
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|6||Balasa Dinverno Foltz LLC Find an Advisor||$4,153,839,466||Minimum fee $10,000|| || |
Minimum AssetsMinimum fee $10,000
|7||Kovitz Investment Group Partners, LLC Find an Advisor||$3,345,365,309|| |
| || |
|8||Crescent Grove Advisors Find an Advisor||$2,584,846,881||$10,000,000|| || |
|9||David Vaughn Investments Inc. Find an Advisor||$2,582,818,000||None|| || |
|10||JMG Financial Group Find an Advisor||$2,578,367,000||$1,000,000|| || |
How We Found the Top Financial Advisor Firms in Illinois
We examined all of the firms in Illinois registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for this list. All of these firms are bound by fiduciary duty to act in their clients’ best interests. Any firm with disclosures was eliminated. We also didn’t consider firms that don’t have financial planners or that don’t manage individual accounts. Below are the top 10 firms in Illinois sorted by total assets under management, starting with the highest.
HighTower Advisors LLC
Hightower Advisors, LLC has more than $42 billion in assets under management, making it by far the largest firm on this list. The Chicago firm is fee-based and is also ranked first on SmartAsset’s list of the top 10 financial advisor firms in Chicago. In addition to fees, advisors may receive commissions for the sale of certain securities. The firm is still bound by fiduciary duty to make decisions in the best interest of the client though.
There are 312 advisors, including research staff, working at the firm, making the firm’s advisory team more than triple the size of the team any of the other firms on this list. Hightower’s advisory team is split up into 87 investment teams, located in 32 states.
The firm mostly works with individuals, though it also does plenty of business with high-net-worth individuals. Hightower also advises pension plans, charitable organizations and corporations. There generally isn’t a minimum investment required to open or maintain an account. However, some of the firm’s services require a minimum of $500,000.
Hightower Advisors, LLC Background
Hightower Advisors, LLC was founded in 2008. As of January 2018, more than 50% of the firm is owned by Thomas H. Lee Partners, a Boston-based private equity firm.
The services offered by the firm are varied. Financial planning, estate planning, retirement planning, education planning, insurance and investments are all part of the package. The firm can also advise ERISA-retirement plans, though it does not act as a plan sponsor or administrator.
Hightower Advisors, LLC Investing Strategy
A relationship begins with a meeting between the advisor and the client to figure out what the client wants out of the relationship. After the client’s financial situation and goals are determined, the advisor will come up with a plan to help the client meet them, including figuring out what types of asset classes and investments will be used.
A variety of investment types are used by Hightower. These could include stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, real estate investment trusts (REITs), options and warrants.
Brownson, Rehmus & Foxworth, Inc.
Brownson, Rehmus & Foxworth, Inc. is a fee-only advisory firm. It is based in Chicago. It’s the second-biggest firm on our list with more than $42 million in assets under management. It has 49 investors on staff who have a variety of certifications, including 16 certified financial planners (CFPs), five chartered financial analysts (CFAs), one chartered alternative investment advisor (CAIA), one fund research manager (FRM) and three certified public accountants (CPAs).
All of the firm’s individual clients are high-net-worth individuals. The account minimum depends on the investment advisor. However, the firm’s minimum fees can range from $15,000 to $200,000, so most of the account balances are fairly high. The firm does also advise some pensions, charitable organizations and corporations.
Brownson, Rehmus & Foxworth, Inc. Background
Brownson, Rehmus & Foxworth, Inc. was founded in 1969, making it the second-oldest firm on this list. The firm is owned by 10 of its active principals, and each owns an equal share. The firm’s founder, Frederick O. Brownson, is no longer active at the firm, but he still has a 10% non-voting interest in the company if it is sold or liquidated. That interest dissolves upon his death. In addition to the firm’s office in Chicago, it has offices in San Francisco, Atlanta and New York.
Services offered by the firm include investment advice, tax planning, estate planning, charitable giving, and debt management. The company can also help clients with major purchases and life changes like marriage, children or divorce.
Brownson, Rehmus & Foxworth, Inc. Investing Strategy
Brownson, Rehmus & Foxworth tailors its financial advice to each client’s situation, avoiding one-size-fits-all solutions. The firm focuses on asset allocation as the main instrument of building a growth portfolio. Diversification is the name of the game, and the firm believes in long-term investing rather than trying to game the system with quick turnarounds.
Also important is manager selection. The firm prefers to invest clients’ assets in funds with little manager turnover and a manager with a good record. Real estate, fixed-income and alternative investments are also used.
RMB Capital Management
RMB Capital Management is a fee-only firm based in Chicago. The firm only makes fees based on its investment services, but different programs do have different rates, which the firm acknowledges can create conflicts of interest. Still, the firm is bound by fiduciary duty to act in the client’s best interest.
The firm has 80 advisors on staff. Notably, it has the most listed financial certifications of any firm on this list. That includes 29 certified financial planners (CFPs), 31 chartered financial analysts (CFAs), nine certified public accountants (CPAs), four certified public wealth advisors (CPWAs), two certified plan fiduciary advisors (CPFAs) and two chartered institute of management accountants (CIMAs).
RMB has an even split of individual and high-net-worth individual accounts. The firm also services investment companies, pooled investment vehicles, pension plans and charitable organizations, among other entities. A minimum investment of $1 million is required.
RMB Capital Management Background
RMB Capital Management was founded in 2005. The firm’s principal owners are Richard M. Burridge, Frederick Paulman, and Walter H. Clark, all of whom work at the firm. Burridge is the CEO and co-chief investment officer, Paulman is the president and Clark is the chief operating officer. The firm has satellite offices in Skaneateles, New York; Rochester, New York; Irvine, California; Oak Brook Terrace, Illinois and Atlanta.
Services offered by the firm include retirement analysis, compensation and benefits, estate planning, asset allocation, tax planning, insurance analysis, education funding and charitable giving strategy. It also offers services to employers and institutional clients relating to asset management.
RMB Capital Management Investing Strategy
RMB Capital Management says its advisors are “custodians of our clients’ trust.” The firm starts a client-advisor relationship by developing a personal, individualized plan for each client. It takes into consideration a client’s goals, life situation, personal relationships and other concerns. From there, it puts together a holistic plan focused on long-term growth.
The firm has a variety of portfolios for clients to consider. These include:
- Taxable fixed income
- Tax-exempt fixed income
- Core equity
- Dividend growth
- Special situations
- Strategic fixed income
Assets used in client portfolios could include stocks, hedge funds and real estate.
Gofen and Glossberg, LLC
Gofen and Glossberg, LLC is a fee-only firm based in Chicago. It has more than $4.3 billion in assets under management and requires a minimum investment of at least $1 million. The firm has 15 advisors on staff. That includes eight chartered financial analysts (CFAs) and four certified insurance counselors (CICs).
The firm has a mix of individual and high-net worth individual clients, though more of its clients are high-net-worth individuals. It does business with other entities as well, including pension plans, charitable organizations, municipalities, insurance companies and corporations.
Gofen and Glossberg, LLC Background
Gofen and Glossberg, LLC was founded in 1932, making it by far the oldest company on this list. In fact, it was founded before the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, which governs the actions of advisors like those at Gofen and Glossberg. The firm is privately held by a number of principals, none of whom own more than 25% of the company.
The firm’s services include financial management, education planning, retirement planning, saving for travel and legacy planning. Different services are available for institutional clients, including endowment management and pension fund management.
Gofen and Glossberg, LLC Investing Strategy
Gofen and Glossberg believes in coming up with an individual strategy for each client. Before any action is taken, the advisors become acquainted with each client’s personal financial situation, their family and anything else that may be important to how they move forward with investing.
A number of different strategies are employed. For equities, the firm prefers to invest in high-quality companies that are growing. It tries to have low turnover to avoid transaction costs and generally has 30 - 40 equities in its portfolios. Bonds are used to generate fixed income strategies, along with a buy-and-hold strategy.
Zacks Investment Management, Inc.
Zacks Investment Management, Inc. is based in Chicago. The fee-only firm has more than $4.2 billion in assets under management and 11 advisors on staff. Three staff members hold the chartered financial analyst (CFA) distinction. One of the advisors, Chris Varvares, also serves on the Time Magazine board of economists.
The firm’s biggest group of clients are individuals, though it also has high-net-worth individuals as clients. It also serves banks, investment companies, pension plans, government entities and other investment companies. The firm requires a minimum investment of $500,000.
Zacks Investment Management, Inc. Background
Zacks Investment Management (ZIM) was founded in 1992 by Ben Zacks. Previously, Ben Zacks co-founded Zacks Investment Research (ZIR) in 1978. ZIR still wholly owns ZIM. ZIR is owned by Ben Zacks and Mitch Zacks. Ben and Mitch both still work at the firm as principals and senior portfolio managers.
Services offered by the firm include financial planning, asset allocation and investing. It uses its parent company, Zacks Investment Research, as a resource. The firm also has a regularly updated blog where its principals offer their thoughts on the stock market and the world of investing.
Zacks Investment Management, Inc. Investing Strategy
Zacks Investment Management operates under a simple principle: Buying stocks and bonds will help clients build value, whereas other investments tend to dilute the value of a client’s portfolio. The firm takes asset allocation seriously and wants to build portfolios that are going to actually help clients grow their net worth.
There are five core portfolio strategies offered by the firm:
- Mid cap core
- Small cap core
- Dividend strategy
- Focus growth
- All cap core
Balasa Dinverno Foltz LLC
Balasa Dinverno Foltz, LLC is a fee-only firm. It is based in Itasca, making it the highest rated firm on this list not based in Chicago, though it is still in the greater Chicago metro area. The firm has more than $4.1 billion in assets under management. There are 36 advisors on staff. This includes 27 certified financial planners (CFPs), four chartered financial analysts (CFAs), nine certified public accountants (CPAs), one certified trust and financial advisor (CTFA) and two certified divorce financial analysts (CDFAs).
Most of the firm’s clients are high-net-worth individuals, but it does do some business with other individual investors. It also has a significant number of pension plans as clients, plus a few charitable organizations, corporations and one government entity. There isn’t a minimum account size required to open an account. However, any account worth less than $1 million will still have to pay the minimum fee of $10,000, even though they’ll be paying a higher fee rate.
Balasa Dinverno Foltz, LLC Background
Balasa Dinverno Foltz was founded in 1986 by Mark Balasa, Armond Diverno and Mike Foltz. All three still work at the firm. Balasa is the CIO, Diverno the president and Foltz a wealth manager and vice president. Balsa and Diverno are also co-CEOs. The three also remain the principal owners of the firm.
Services offered by the firm include wealth management, retirement planning, investment planning, tax planning, risk management, estate planning and charitable giving.
Balasa Dinverno Foltz, LLC Investing Strategy
Balasa Dinverno Foltz’s investment philosophy is driven by a mix of investment science and behavioral finance. It breaks out four factors that drive success in active management: value, momentum, profitability and size. Advisors also look to counter mistakes commonly made by investors, noting that “there are times when what your investments need the most is protection from your own decisions.”
A variety of assets may be included in a client’s portfolio. This could include individual equities, individual fixed income, mutual funds and exchange-traded funds.
Kovitz Investment Group Partners, LLC
Kovitz Investment Group Partners, LLC is a fee-based firm located in Chicago. In addition to advisory fees, advisors at the firm may earn brokerage commissions. The firm is bound by fiduciary duty though, which requires it to always act in clients’ best interests.
The firm has 25 advisors on staff. Its team includes 18 certified financial planners (CFPs), five chartered financial advisors (CFAs), eight certified public accountants (CPAs), one chartered retirement planning counselor (CRPC) and one certified trust and financial advisor (CTFA.)
Kovitz has a fairly even mix of individual clients and high-net-individual clients. Also on its client sheet are investment companies, pooled investment vehicles, pension plans, charitable organizations, corporations and estates. The firm requires a minimum investment of $1 million.
Kovitz Investment Group Partners, LLC Background
Kovitz Investment Group Partners was founded in 2003. Prior to that, the founders of the firm were offering investment advice as The Kovitz Group through Rothschild Investment Corp. The firm is a wholly owned subsidiary of Focus Operating, LLC, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Focus Financial Partners, LLC. Focus also owns other advisors along with broker-dealers and insurance companies.
Kovitz’s services include financial planning, wealth management, retirement planning, estate planning, insurance, Social Security analysis and college savings strategies.
Kovitz Investment Group Partners, LLC Investing Strategy
Protecting against permanent capital loss is the key to Kovitz Investment Group Partner’s equity strategy. The firm wants to build wealth, but it will always use asset allocation to protect against a possibly cataclysmic loss of wealth. It does so by having a long-term view and looking at investments as long-term options.
The firm also has a fixed income strategy. It employs a sophisticated bond strategy, even though it reveals on its website that it knows investors think bonds are “boring.” The firm has different bond strategies for different portfolios, based on client needs.
Crescent Grove Advisors
Our list moves outside of Chicago (but stays in the Chicago metro area) once again with Crescent Grove Advisors. Based in Lake Forest, this fee-only firm has more than $2.5 billion in assets under management. The firm employees 11 advisors, including two chartered financial analysts (CFAs) and two certified public accountants (CPAs).
All of Crescent Grove’s individual clients are high-net-worth individuals. This makes sense, since its minimum investment is $10 million. The firm also advises a small number of charitable organizations.
Crescent Grove Advisors Background
Crescent Grove Advisors was founded in 2015 by Gregg George, David Keevins and Nick Cochanski. All three founders still work at the firm as managing directors. The firm is a wholly owned subsidiary of Crescent Grove Holdings, LLC. It has additional offices in Milwaukee and Atlanta.
Services offered by the firm include financial planning, investment strategy and management, estate and trust planning, legacy planning, business succession planning, endowment guidance and family education.
Crescent Grove Advisors Investing Strategy
Crescent Grove Advisors’ investment strategy begins with its advisors getting to know clients personally. The advisors strive to learn about their clients’ lives and financial situations to figure out an investment strategy that works for each client. The firm employs a detail-oriented, methodical strategy to picking the best investments for each person.
Investments could include mutual funds, ETFs, independent investment managers and alternative investments, which could include private or public securities. The firm limits its number of clients so it can build a more personal strategy for the clients it does take on.
David Vaughn Investments Inc.
The first firm truly outside of the Chicago area is David Vaughan Investments, Inc., based in Peoria. The fee-only firm has more than $2.5 billion in assets under management. There are 15 advisors at the firm, including five certified financial planners (CFPs), nine chartered financial analysts (CFAs), three certified public accountants (CPAs), two certified employee benefit specialists (CEBSs) one chartered financial counselor (ChFC) and one certified trust and financial advisor (CTFA).
An even mix of individuals and high-net-worth individuals make up the firm’s client base. It also provides advice to pension plans and charitable organizations. There is no minimum account size required to open or maintain an account. However, minimum fees may be instituted: $5,000 for investment advisory services, $1,000 for mutual fund asset allocation portfolio management services and $1,500 for consulting services.
David Vaughan Investments, Inc. Background
David Vaughan Investments was founded in 1977 by David J. Vaughan, who died in 2006. As of 2017, the majority of the firm is owned by HCB, a privately held community bank located in Central Illinois, making the firm a subsidiary of HCB. David Vaughan Investments has a second office in Florida.
The firm’s services include cash management, college planning, proxy voting, retirement planning, tax planning, stock option strategies and trust and estate planning. The firm does not sell any products and is not a broker-dealer.
David Vaughan Investments, Inc. Investing Strategy
Advisors at the firm start by having in-depth conversations with each client to figure out their goals and preferences. Income, assets and overall financial situation are considered when formulating a plan to maximize each client’s financial health.
The firm builds equity portfolios, balanced portfolios and fixed income portfolios. The equity strategy looks for “attractive valuations, consistent and increasing dividends and strong balance sheets.” The fixed income strategy uses a conservative buy-and-hold approach. The balanced portfolio blends the two.
JMG Financial Group
The final firm on this list returns to the Chicago suburbs. JMG Financial Group, Ltd. is a fee-only firm based in Downers Grove. It has more than $2.5 million in assets under management and 33 advisors on its team. There are 17 certified financial planners (CFPs), four certified public accountants (CPAs), one chartered financial consultant (ChFC), two certified divorce financial advisors (CDFA), one chartered financial analyst (CFA) and certified investment management analyst (CIMA) on staff.
The firm’s clients are primarily high-net-worth individuals, but it does have other individual clients. It generally doesn’t advise institutional clients, though it does have a few pension plans on its rolls.
JMG Financial Group, Ltd. Background
JMG Financial Group was founded in 1984 and became a registered investment advisor in 1985. Anthony D. Cecchini is the CEO, and a number of the firm’s employees are principals. The firm also has a branch office in downtown Chicago.
Services offered by the firm include: wealth management, retirement planning, investment management, tax minimization, tax analysis and advice around life changes like selling a business or job changes.
JMG Financial Group, Ltd. Investing Strategy
JMG Financial Group believes that though each client’s investment goals may be different, a similar philosophy works for all its clients: sensible asset allocation and a disciplined approach to maintaining that allocation for long-term results. The firm also looks to structure portfolios in a way that minimizes tax liability as a way to keep wealth growing.
Investments may include individual equity and fixed income securities, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds/notes, private funds and unaffiliated sub-advisors.