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IRON Financial Review

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IRON Financial, LLC

financial advisor firm located in Northbrook, Illinois, IRON Financial, LLC has a little more than $5 billion in assets under management (AUM). The firm’s advisors work mainly with pension and profit-sharing plans, but also with individuals, investment companies and businesses. The firm focuses on portfolio management, though they also provide retirement plan services.

As a fee-only advisory firm, IRON Financial earns its compensation from just client-based fees. A fee-based firm, on the other hand, is one that collects commissions from insurance or security sales in addition to standard fees.

IRON Financial Background

IRON Financial was founded in Chicago in 1994 by CEO Howard Nixon and Chief Investment Officer Aaron Izenstark. With decades of investment experience between them, the co-founders focus the firm’s strategy around a strategic income philosophy. The firm is under the principal ownership of IRON Holdings, LLC, a financial services holding company.

The financial advisors at IRON Financial hold a number of advisory certifications. Among the firm’s investment professionals, there are multiple chartered financial analysts (CFAs) and one certified financial planner (CFP). 

IRON Financial Types of Clients and Minimum Account Sizes

The vast majority of IRON Financial’s clients are non-government pension and profit-sharing plans. Individuals, high-net-worth individuals, investment companies and businesses round out the firm’s client base.

The minimum account sizes of IRON Financial’s managed portfolios range from $100,000 to $500,000. They are as follows:

  • Global Equity Plus Strategy Portfolios: $250,000
  • S&P Equity Plus Strategy Portfolios: $100,000
  • All-Cap Alpha Equity Strategy Portfolios: $300,000
  • Fixed-Income Yield Only Portfolios: $300,000
  • Fixed-Income High-Yield Only Portfolios: $300,000
  • Select Portfolios and Managed Portfolios: $500,000
  • Fixed-Income Total Return Portfolios: $500,000
  • Risk-Based Mutual Fund Total Return Portfolios: $250,000
  • REIT Strategy Portfolios: $100,000
  • Automated advisory services: None

Most of the firm’s corporate retirement plan services call for a minimum balance of $100,000. On a smaller scale, retirement accounts have a $30,000 minimum, while 401(k) accounts have no minimum.

Services Offered by IRON Financial

IRON Financial offers a number of portfolio management services, including a variety of fixed-income strategies, total return strategies and more.

  • EQUITY Plus Strategies
  • Global Equity Plus Strategy Portfolios
  • S&P Equity Plus Strategy Portfolios
  • All-Cap Alpha Equity Strategy
  • Risk-Based Mutual Fund Portfolios
  • Select and managed portfolios
  • Convertible Bond Strategy
  • Real estate investment trust (REIT) strategy

IRON Financial provides ERISA 3(38) and 3(21) Investment Fiduciary Services to sponsors of retirement plans. The firm also provides automated advisory services, as well as fiduciary and IRA rollover solutions.

IRON Financial Investment Philosophy

IRON Financial places emphasis on adding value to typical beta investment practices. It uses a wide array of asset classes, coupled with effective risk management and primary research, to drive growth for clients. The investments that fill out these strategies and portfolios are a combination of fixed-income securities, equities, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), options and derivatives.

The firm’s methods of analysis include charting as well as fundamental, technical and quantitative analysis. Each of these techniques attempts to analyze a security’s intrinsic value by looking at various factors, like pricing statistics, performance data, underlying financial conditions of the company and more.

IRON Financial Fees

IRON Financial’s fees vary based on the investment strategy. These charges follow the fee schedule below, though the firm may negotiate fees on a client-to-client basis.

Investment Fee Schedule
Account Strategy Maximum Annual Fee
Global Equity Plus Strategy Portfolios 0.70%
S&P Equity Plus Strategy Portfolios 0.50%
All-Cap Alpha Equity Strategy Portfolios 0.75%
Fixed-Income Yield Only Portfolios 0.35%
Fixed-Income High-Yield Only Portfolios 0.50%
Select Portfolios and Managed Portfolios 0.50%
Fixed-Income Total Return Portfolios 0.70%
Risk-Based Mutual Fund Total Return Portfolios 0.75%
REIT Strategy Portfolios 0.70%
Automated advisory services 0.25%

These investment management fees are lower than the industry average of 0.95%, according to a 2018 study of 1,500 firms by RIA in a Box. Here is the estimated dollar amount you'd pay in advisory fees based on the strategy and at the minimum account level:

*Estimated investment management fees do not include brokerage, custodial, third-party manager or other fees, which can vary in amount.
Estimated Investment Management Fees at IRON Financial*
Account Strategy
& Minimum Account Size
Maximum Annual Fee Amount
Global Equity Plus Strategy Portfolios
S&P Equity Plus Strategy Portfolios
All-Cap Alpha Equity Strategy Portfolios
Fixed-Income Yield Only Portfolios
Fixed-Income High-Yield Only Portfolios
Select Portfolios and Managed Portfolios
Fixed-Income Total Return Portfolios
Risk-Based Mutual Fund Total Return Portfolios
REIT Strategy Portfolios

The IRON ERISA 3(21) investment fiduciary services available at the firm abide by a flat annual fee of 0.05%, while the IRON ERISA 3(38) version of this offering follows this fee schedule:

ERISA 3(38) Investment Fiduciary Services
AUM Annual Fee
Up to $10,000,000 0.10%
$10,000,001 to $20,000,000 0.09%
$20,000,001 to $30,000,000 0.08%
$30,000,001 to $50,000,000 0.07%
$50,000,001 and up Negotiable


*Estimated investment management fees do not include brokerage, custodial, third-party manager or other fees, which can vary in amount.
Estimated ERISA 3(38) Investment Management Fees at IRON Financial*
Your Assets Annual Fee Amount
$1MM $1,000
$10MM $10,000
$20MM $18,000
$30MM $24,000
$50MM $35,000
$100MM Negotiable

Additionally, corporate retirement plans under $5 million are charged a 0.75% annual fee for all the services listed above. This fee becomes negotiable for corporate retirement plans investing more than $5 million.

Learn more about advisors' typical costs here.

What to Watch Out For

IRON Financial does not have any disclosures of legal or regulatory action on its most recent Form ADV.

Opening an Account With IRON Financial

If you’d like to open an account with IRON Financial, you can go online and submit a form on the firm's website. You can also call its office toll-free at (888) 396-4766.

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

Tips for Finding the Right Financial Advisor for You

  • Use SmartAsset’s free financial advisor matching tool. It will connect you with up to three advisors in your area in 5 minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • Ask advisor candidates how many times a year they will we go over your finances with you. The right answer depends on your needs and expectations. But once or twice a year should be the minimum.

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 the cost of living in retirement for that location.

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

Methodology To determine how long a $1 million nest egg would cover retirement costs in cities across America, we analyzed data on average expenditures for seniors, cost of living and investment returns.

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%. This reflects the typical return on a conservative investment portfolio. 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