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Kestra Advisory Services Review

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Kestra Advisory Services, LLC

Kestra Advisory Services is an investment advisory firm based in Austin, Texas, with more than $30 billion in assets under management (AUM). It’s powered by more than 1,000 independent advisor representatives (IARs) who are registered with the firm. Many of these advisors are also affiliated with third-party accounting, legal and tax-planning businesses.

Kestra Advisory Serivces is a fee-based advisory firm, meaning it or its advisors are compensated by client fees and third-party commissions for selling financial products or services. This is different from a fee-only firm, whose compensation comes solely from the fees that clients pay for advisory services. 

Kestra Advisory Services Background

Kestra Advisory Services formed in 1997. It's owned by the Kingfisher Holding, LP.

As mentioned earlier, the firm has headquarters in Austin, Texas, but its IARs have offices across the country.

Kestra Advisory Services Client Types and Minimum Account Sizes

Kestra Advisory Services works with advisors. This is why its website doesn't address retail clients. Its IARs, in turn, work with various client types including: 

  • Individuals
  • Banking and thrift institutions
  • Pension and profit-sharing plans
  • Charitable organizations
  • Insurance companies
  • Corporations and other business organizations

Account minimums depend on the advisor, external advisor or platform. Generally, the minimum requirement is $25,000, but account minimums for certain platforms can range from $10,000 to $1 million. 

Services Offered by Kestra Advisory Services

Kestra generally provides investment advice through its IARs, who utilize a variety of technological tools to help their clients reach their financial goals. IARs also offer the following services: 

  • Advisor-managed investment accounts
  • Third-party recommendations
  • Financial planning services
  • Individual retirement planning services
  • Qualified and non-qualified retirement plan services

Kestra Advisory Services Investment Philosophy

Kestra Advisory Services doesn't adhere to one single philosophy. Instead, it seeks to provide every kind of strategy that may be appropriate to a client's profile and needs. If an IAR doesn't have the needed specialization, they will refer the client to a third-party advisor or model portfolio. Generally, IARs may recommend investing in mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), individual stocks and bonds. IARs also may turn to alternative investments and cash alternatives. 

IARs evaluate these securities by reviewing publicly available research sources. They may utilize such analytical strategies as charting, fundamental analysis, technical analysis and cyclical analysis. 

Fees Under Kestra Advisory Services

Advisors charge an asset-based fee that depends on several factors such as the size of your account and the types of services provided. Typically, this asset-based fee ranges up to a maximum 2.5% of client assets under management (AUM). This maximum is more than 2.5 times the industry average of 0.95%, according to a 2018 study of 1,500 firms by RIA in a Box.

The client pays an asset-based fee typically on a quarterly basis in advance or arrears, as determined between the client and the advisor. The advisory or management fee is exclusive of other expenses associated with your account such as brokerage and custodian fees. 

Learn more about advisors' typical costs here.

What to Watch Out For

Kestra Advisory Services has 15 disclosures of disciplinary events on its most recent Form ADV filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Of those cases, two are attributed to Kestra, while 13 are attributed to affiliated advisors. 

In 2016, Kestra paid a $100,000 fine after the Commonwealth of Massachusetts alleged the firm had failed to register investment advisor representatives who conducted business in Massachusetts. In 2019, Kestra paid a $5,628,383.60 disgorgement, plus $567,895.75 in interest, after it allegedly recommended mutual fund share classes that generated compensation for the firm's affiliated broker-dealer "without adequate disclosure of such compensation." Kestra also accepted a censure and an order to cease and desist "from such activity" as part of the case, according to its Form ADV. 

Also worth noting: Kestra's IARs may be affiliated with other companies independent of Kestra. These affiliations may present conflicts of interest that don't exist for advisors who have no additional affiliations. Also, most Kestra IARs have multiple roles. As advisors, they are held to a fiduciary duty to work in the best interest of their clients. But as brokers or insurance agents, they have only a "suitability" standard to uphold. When receiving a recommendation, be sure you know which hat the IAR is wearing when making it. 

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

Tips for Finding the Right Financial Advisor

  • Want an advisor who isn't also a broker or insurance agent? That kind of advisor is what's called in the industry "fee-only." To find one near you, use our SmartAsset advisor matching tool. It recommends up to three advisors in your area. 
  • Ask potential advisors about their certifications. They’re not required to have any, but those that do are held to higher standards. Certified financial planners (CFPs), for example, must provide advice solely in the best interests of their clients.

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.

Least
Most
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