Finding a Top Financial Advisor Firm in Irvine, California
When you’re looking for a financial advisor, it can be hard to determine which one is right for you. There’s a lot of information to sort through, and it’s not always the easiest to understand. That’s why SmartAsset combed through the financial advisors in the Irvine metro area for you. We researched each firm and narrowed the list to the top 10.
|Rank||Financial Advisor||Assets Managed||Minimum Assets||Financial Services||More Information|
First Foundation AdvisorsFind an Advisor
$500,000 for investment advisory services
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$500,000 for investment advisory services
Index Fund AdvisorsFind an Advisor
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Cooper McManus Wealth ManagementFind an Advisor
$25,000 and up depending on type of account
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$25,000 and up depending on type of account
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Apriem AdvisorsFind an Advisor
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Silversage AdvisorsFind an Advisor
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Newport Wealth StrategiesFind an Advisor
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Signature Resources Capital ManagementFind an Advisor
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Sun Group Wealth PartnersFind an Advisor
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Baker & AssociatesFind an Advisor
Recommended annual household income of $350,000+
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Recommended annual household income of $350,000+
Moler Capital ManagementFind an Advisor
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How We Found the Top Financial Advisor Firms in Irvine, California
All the advisors on the list are registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Registered firms have to adhere to certain government rules and regulations that protect consumers and are required to file paperwork annually. We eliminated any firm with disclosures or disciplinary issues. We also cut financial advisors that didn’t manage individual accounts. The final top 10 is ordered from the most assets under management to the least.
First Foundation Advisors
Topping our list is First Foundation Advisors, a large organization that has more than $3.5 billion in assets under management. Founded in 1990, the firm is the oldest on our top 10. The fee-only firm (the fairest model for clients) has 33 advisors spread across its California locations, Nevada and Hawaii. First Foundation is a regional bank in California and in addition to investment management and wealth planning, it also offers retail banking products such as checking accounts, savings accounts, loans and consumer credit cards.
The private wealth management section of the organization includes advisors, planners, trust advisors and more. To become a client of advisory services, you’ll need $500,000.
First Foundation has advisors in Irvine, Pasadena, Los Angeles and San Diego in California, plus Honolulu and Las Vegas.
First Foundation Advisors Background
First Foundation started as Keller Group in 1990. Keller Group was one of the nation’s first wealth management firms to offer fee-only wealth management. The organization became a bank in 2007 and continued offering advisory services.
Rick Keller, the founder of Keller Group, serves as chairman of First Foundation. He’s a certified financial planner (CFP) and has worked in financial services for over 24 years. The firm’s 12-person leadership team includes one woman, the chief operation officer, one chartered financial analyst (CFA) and one individual with a law degree. The full team of 33 includes nine CFPs, eight CFAs and three chartered alternative investment analysts (CAIA). The only common certification missing from the team is certified public accountant, generally found at financial advisor firms that offer tax planning as a service.
First Foundation Advisors Investment Strategy
The investment committee at First Foundation follows an investment philosophy that includes rigorous analysis to identify investing strategies, stewardship of your portfolio, valuation discipline, partnership with firms that share similar values, risk control and finding opportunities in inefficient markets.
If you become a client, you’ll have asset allocation portfolio options to choose from depending on your financial objectives and situation. These portfolio options include growth, moderate, conservative, emphasis on growth, emphasis on dividends, emphasis on income and fixed income. You can infer the goal of each strategy from the name of it. Each of these options corresponds with an asset mix. For example, emphasis on growth will include allocation among equities, fixed income, cash and with a primary emphasis on equities including private investment funds.
Index Fund Advisors
Our second fee-only firm on the list, Index Fund Advisors, like the No. 1 firm, has more than $3 billion in assets under management. Index Fund Advisors has less than half the number of advisors, however with 15 to First Foundation’s 33.
You’ll need at least $100,000 for investment advisory services. Additional services offered by the firm include financial planning, retirement planning, college planning and Social Security optimization. The firm has clients all over the U.S. but is based in Irvine.
Index Fund Advisors Background
Mark Hebner is the founder, president and sole owner of Index Fund Advisors. Beyond his decades of experience, MBA and Series 65 securities license, he’s also an author. He wrote “Index Funds: The 12-Step Recovery Program for Active Investors” and created a documentary based on the book to help with his mission of investor education.
His team includes two female senior vice presidents, both certified financial planners (CFPs). Out of the entire team of 13, six employees are CFPs and two are accredited investment fiduciaries (AIFs). The team does not include any chartered financial analysts (CFAs) or certified public accountants (CPAs).
Index Fund Advisors provides services to individuals, high-net-worth clients and pension and profit-sharing plans among others.
Index Fund Advisors Investment Strategy
It probably won’t come as a surprise that most portfolios at this firm are invested in index mutual funds or passively managed mutual funds. Additionally, the firm favors equity investments in indexes that include small and value-oriented companies rather than large and well-known indices. These portfolios also generally include indexes of fixed income and real estate investment trusts (REITs).
Your exact portfolio will correspond with your time horizon, cash-flow needs, net income, risk tolerance, investment knowledge and net savings. You can opt for a glide path portfolio if you’d like your investments to become more conservative over time (as you near retirement).
Cooper McManus Wealth Management
Cooper McManus Wealth Management is the first fee-based firm on our list. Fee-based means that the firm can receive compensation from partnerships with mutual funds or from selling products, such as insurance. While the firm is still a fiduciary, fee-based firms have less stringent requirements for compensation than fee-only financial advisors.
Cooper McManus has $520 million in assets under management, more than $2.5 billion less than the first two firms. However, unlike the six-digit asset minimums the first two firms required, Cooper McManus requires $25,000 to start an account. The minimum increases for different account types.
The firm has 43 advisors, the highest out of any on this top 10. Cooper McManus is registered in 50 states but has its only office in Irvine.
Cooper McManus Wealth Management Background
Arthur Cooper and David McManus are the founders and owners of the firm. They both are certified financial planners (CFPs) and started their careers at large financial services organizations.
The team includes an affiliated network of advisors as well as a core team of six professionals.Cooper McManus is another firm that doesn’t have any chartered financial analysts (CFAs) or certified public accountants (CPAs). This is likely due to its partnerships with accounting agencies and larger firms.
The firm primarily offers investment advice to individuals, pension and profit-sharing plans, trusts and business entities.
Cooper McManus Wealth Management Investment Management Options
This firm has different investment management products based on your asset level. The lowest minimum is $25,000 and will get you a Financial Advisors Program (FAP) account. Your assets will likely be invested in mutual funds, ETFs or variable annuities with a FAP account. For a LifeGuide Program account, you’ll need $50,000. This type of account has the same type of investments as FAP: mutual funds and ETFs.
The next minimum is $100,000 for the SEI Asset Management Program. Your account is managed on an individual basis with this option. However, your portfolio’s investments are based on asset allocation portfolios developed by SEI Investments. This means a pre-made portfolio template that generally consists of SEI mutual funds and other securities approved by SEI.
Like Cooper McManus Wealth Management, Apriem Advisor is a fee-based firm with assets under management north of $500 million. However, Apriem has just 10 advisors compared to Cooper McManus’ 43. The firm has been in business since 1998 and offers investment management, wealth management, family wealth management and an industrial retiree practice. The latter is a retirement account service that Apriem offers to large industrial companies such as ExxonMobile, Boeing and Torrance Refining Company.
To become a client of investment management services, you need at least $100,000, wealth management requires $500,000 and private client services (family wealth) takes $5 million in investable assets or a net worth of $10 million. You can find Apriem offices in Irvine, San Diego and Los Angeles.
Apriem Advisors Background
Harmon Kong and Mark Iwamoto founded the firm in 1998 after a decade each of experience in wealth management at corporate financial firms. Kong is the primary owner of the firm and service as chief financial officer and chief wealth manager. He’s a certified financial planner (CFP). Iwamoto has an MBA and serves as an advisor. Rhonda Ducote is the president of the firm and a shareholder and has 20 years of wealth management experience.
The 10 additional employees include three additional CFPs, two chartered financial analysts (CFAs) and one chartered retirement planning counselor (CRPC).
Apriem Advisors Women’s Initiative
Apriem Advisors has a program called Women of Wisdom (WOW) that focuses on the financial needs of women. This unique initiative includes events and educational programs such as business exit planning education, dealing with divorce and how to bequeath money to philanthropic causes. Rhonda Ducote, the firm’s president, founded the program in 2014.
The WOW program hosts events beyond the typical financial education realm. For example, in February 2018 it hosted a 21-day detox event that was at full capacity.
The No. 5 firm, Silversage Advisors, requires $500,000 in assets under management for new clients, the same minimum as the No. 1 firm, First Foundation Advisors. Silversage has $236 million in assets under management and has six advisors. The compensation model here is fee-based, rather than fee-only, meaning that the firm can earn compensation from insurance or other products in addition to annual management fees.
Services include financial planning and investment management. The firm has two office locations in California: Irvine and Seal Beach.
Silversage Advisors Background
Jeffrey Garell founded the firm in 2004. He currently serves as president and co-owns Silversage Advisors with his wife, Karin Garell, who serves as the firm’s CFO. Jeffrey has 30 years of financial services industry experience and is a certified financial planner (CFP). Karin, who was previously a practicing lawyer, now focuses on the finances and legal side of Silversage.
The firm has seven additional employees, including another CFP and certified public accountant (CPA). The only major certification missing from the ranks is chartered financial analyst (CFA), common in the financial advisor industry.
Silversage Advisors Investment Strategy
If you become a Silversage client, you’ll discuss your financial situation and future goals with an advisor. Based on your conversation, where you’ll cover topics such as your retirement timeline, cash needs, risk tolerance and investment knowledge, your advisor will develop an investment plan for you.
Silversage uses five different model portfolios: income, conservative, balanced, moderate and aggressive. This method of investment management means that the firm has created template portfolios that they match new clients with depending on what you discuss in your initial meetings. Each portfolio contains active and passive investment styles and will contain no-load or low-load mutual funds and ETFs. Keep in mind that with Silversage, your portfolio won’t contain individual stocks or other investment vehicles, which is generally common with firms that require a high minimum asset level.
Newport Wealth Strategies
Newport Wealth Strategies, a fee-based financial advisory firm, has $235 million in assets under management. With just two advisors, the firm has the the fewest number of advisors, tying with Baker & Associates (No. 9) and Moler Capital Management (No.10). The firm has no specified asset minimum and offer portfolio management, retirement income strategies, financial planning and estate planning. Founded in 2011, the firm ties with Sun Group Wealth Partners (No. 8) for youngest on the list.
Newport Wealth Strategies Background
The firm is owned by Darin Simonian, the founder. Simonian started working in the financial services industry in 1986. He worked for Ernst & Young, the global accounting firm, and for Pacific Holding Company, billionaire David Burdock’s company. Simonian is a certified financial planner (CFP) and a licensed (but inactive) certified public accountant (CPA).
Newport Wealth Strategies Portfolio Management
As a client of Newport Wealth, you undergo an initial consult to see what your investment goals are and where you are financially. Then, Simonian or an associate will develop an investment plan that encompasses your risk tolerance, investment objectives, cash-flow needs and more. Portfolios are optimized for tax efficiency and take downside risk protection into consideration. The firm works with Schwab Institutional and TD Ameritrade to custody your assets. By working with large brokerage firms, Newport is able to offer advice and access to institutionally priced investment vehicles.
Signature Resources Capital Management
This fee-only firm was founded in 2007. Signature Resources Capital Management has $163 million in assets under management and has 10 advisors, making it a medium-sized firm in comparison with the rest of our Irvine list.
You’ll need $250,000 to get started with the firm. Choose from investment management, financial planning, retirement planning or estate planning.
Signature Resources Capital Management Background
Three Kaltenbach’s founded the business: Gary, Gregory and Geoff. The founders are the primary owners of the firm and have over 80 years of financial services industry experience between the three of them.
The firm has nine advisors and two investment team members. One advisor is a certified financial planner (CFP) and the chief investment officer is a chartered financial analyst.
Signature Resources Capital Management Investment Philosophy
According to Signature Resources Capital Management materials, the firm’s core philosophy is that “capital market prices reflect collective investor expectations for the potential risks and returns inherent to all investments.” This means there is little room for gain with the aggregate performance of similar securities. To combat this, the firm builds diverse portfolios that are invested in a range of asset classes. Like many firms, SRCM emphasizes global diversification for long-term portfolio performance.
Sun Group Wealth Partners
Sun Group Wealth Partners is a fee-based financial advisor firm known for its founder, Winnie Sun, who’s often seen on TV and has a prominent Twitter presence. Sun Group is the first firm on the list founded and primarily owned by a woman.
The firm has three advisors and has $124 million in assets under management. Sun Group primarily offers financial planning, wealth management, retirement accounts, insurance and 529 college plans.
There’s no minimum to enroll in Sun Group’s services, but some asset management programs will require $100,000 or more.
Sun Group Wealth Partners Background
Winnie Sun and Brandon Chang founded the firm in 2011 and remain the primary owners. Sun, the managing director, has more than 17 years in the financial services industry. She’s on the CNBC Financial Advisor Council and previously worked at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. Chang serves as the director of investments and previously worked for Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. He is Series 7, 31, 63 and 65 licensed. The firm has five additional employees.
Unlike most financial advisor firms, Sun Group has no certified financial planners (CFPs), chartered financial analysts (CFAs) or certified public accountants (CPAs) on staff.
Sun Group Wealth Partners Services
Sun Group offers financial planning and consulting that cover topics such as retirement planning, education planning, corporate and personal tax planning, real estate analysis and lines of credit evaluation. These written financial plans include recommendations for your holistic financial situation and are completed within six months of you signing a contract. The implementation of the plan falls on your shoulders.
If you’re looking for investment management, the firm provides advisory services through LPL Financial, a large corporation with asset minimum requirements. Sun Group Wealth Partners does not create portfolios for its clients or provide specific investment advice; all advisory services are handled through LPL and require a minimum of $25,000 for the baseline account that consists of mutual funds.
Baker & Associates
This fee-based firm is the second on our list that’s founded an owned by a woman. Baker & Associates has $145 million in assets under management and has just two advisors, tying it for fewest advisors with Newport Wealth Strategies (No. 6) and Moler Capital Management (No. 10).
While the firm doesn’t have explicit account minimums, most clients either have a net worth in the millions or have a household income of at least $350,000. Services offered include investment management, estate planning, business succession, fringe benefits and income taxes.
Baker & Associates Background
Chris Baker is the founder and primary owner of the firm. She’s worked as a certified financial planner (CFP) since 1989 and previously ran Chris Baker Financial Planning Services, the predecessor to Baker & Associates. Baker is a certified public accountant with the personal financial specialist designation.
The firm has two additional advisors; one is a CFP with over 15 years of experience. Baker & Associates primarily serves owners of closely held businesses, highly compensated executive and high-net-worth individuals. The firm generally accepts new clients who have either a minimum net worth of $5 million, liquid investable assets of $1 million or more or an annual household income of at least $350,000.
Baker & Associates Investment Strategy
Baker & Associates advisors will develop investment recommendations based on your financial situation, risk tolerance, income needs, liquidity needs and tax considerations. The firm uses third party research to formulate investment advice. Overall, the firm’s philosophy is to buy and hold long-term, with active management when short-term forecasts make it seem advisable. The firm invests in mutual funds, ETFs and equity securities.
This firm generally employs fundamental analysis when selecting individual stocks for your portfolio. Fundamental analysis considers the investment issuer’s price-to-earnings ratio, dividend yields, growth rate-to-price earnings ratio, financial strength ratio and more. Your portfolio will consist not only of individual stocks, but mutual funds, ETFs, individual bonds and alternative investments as well.
Moler Capital Management
Last on our list is Moler Capital Management, a fee-based firm with $130 million in assets under management. The firm ties with Newport Wealth Strategies (No. 6) and Baker & Associates (No. 9) as having the fewest advisors, with just two at this small firm. While the firm may be small, it’s the most exclusive on our list with a minimum asset requirement of $2 million, the highest on our list by $1.5 million. The second-highest minimum is $500,000 at First Foundation Advisors (No. 1). Moler Capital Management is second-oldest in Irvine after First Foundation.
The firm provides wealth management and investment consulting and serves a range of clients including business owners, professionals and retirees.
Moler Capital Management Background
The firm was founded by Randall Moler, a financial services industry veteran with over 30 years experience. He owns the firm with his wife, Nancy Moler. He has law degrees from Pepperdine University and Boston University.
Moler Capital works with clients for wealth management which includes wealth enhancement, wealth transfer, asset protection and charitable giving. For investment consulting, the firm helps investors “avoid some of the behaviors that destroy rather than create wealth.” The firm does this through long-term compound growth.
Moler Capital Management Investment Philosophy
Moler is a follower of modern portfolio theory, the prize-winning investment theory that recommends diversification to help optimize for returns while minimizing risks. The firm invests in mutual funds that use multiple asset classes. Your account will be invested based on your investment policy statement, a document that’s created by your advisor after initial consultations where you discuss your financial situation and retirement timeline, cash needs and risk tolerance.
Moler generally uses DFA mutual funds for your portfolio. That means your account will not have alternative investments or any individual stocks but will consist of mutual fund investments.