Laird Norton Wealth Management is an independent financial advisor firm based in Seattle, Washington. With only 40 financial advisors on staff and $1.7 billion in assets under management (AUM), it is a relatively small firm. At the same time, it still operates along the entire West Coast and a couple of states in the middle of the U.S.
The firm primarily provides financial planning and investment management services to high-net-worth individuals and families. Most clients have accounts worth $3 million or more, but some clients do have less. The firm offers an online investment management service that allows clients with lower net worths to invest. Read on to learn more about the Laird Norton’s fees, services and investment strategies.
Laird Norton Wealth Management Background
Laird Norton Wealth Management is registered with the SEC as Laird Norton Tyee Asset Strategies, LLC. It has been in business, under different names, since the mid 1900s. After a merger in 2001 and a name change in 2004, Laird Norton Wealth Management was born. Today the firm is wholly owned by the Laird Norton Company and its shareholders, who are family members. The Laird Norton Company is in its seventh generation as a family-owned holding company.
With a long history of working in Washington state, Laird Norton tries to stay engaged in its community. For example, it offers workshops to help local residents learn more about handling their finances. The firm also supports environmental sustainability and caters to clients interested in socially responsible investing.
What Types of Clients Does Laird Norton Wealth Management Accept?
The majority of clients who work with Laird Norton are individuals or families with a high net worth. However, the firm also works with trusts, estates, charitable organizations, corporations, business entities, foundations and endowments. According to the firm, it currently serves families with investments ranging from several hundred thousand dollars to more than $100 million.
In certain circumstances, if a client owns a business, Laird Norton may provide investment advice to the business’ pension and profit-sharing plans. The firm will not act as plan administrator, though.
Laird Norton also has an online, automated investment advisory service, called Lanava Investment Planning. This service, which works more like a robo-advisor, is available to individuals and families. Lanava has a lower required account size than the firm’s traditional advisory services.
Laird Norton Wealth Management Minimum Account Sizes
Laird Norton generally charges a minimum annual fee of $30,000. Because portfolios of $3 million or less come with a 1% annual fee, the firm usually requires a minimum portfolio size of $3 million.
At the same time, Laird Norton also provides some investment services to individuals and families with between $1 million and $3 million in investable assets. Clients who receive those services are part of the Affluent Client Group (ACG). These clients do not need the same level of planning and non-investment-related wealth management services. That’s part of why they have a lower account minimum and a lower minimum annual fee of $10,000.
Lanava, the firm’s online, automated investing service, is open to clients who have at least $25,000 to invest. If clients are interested in socially responsible investing, they will need an account minimum of $50,000.
Services Offered by Laird Norton Wealth Management
- Investment portfolio management for individuals, families and businesses
- Socially responsible investin
- Tax planning
- Philanthropic planning
- Estate planning
- Selection of other advisors (including private fund managers)
In addition to traditional financial advisor services, the firm also has an automated investment advisory service called Lanava Investment Planning. If you invest through Lanava, there are three types of portfolios you can have:
- Passively Managed Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) Portfolios: invest in ETFs that are all passively managed
- Actively Managed Mutual Fund Portfolios: invest in mutual funds that are all actively managed
- Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) Impact Portfolios: use funds and other investment vehicles to support companies that prioritize clean business practices
Each type of portfolio has seven different asset allocation options. Each asset allocation presents a different level of risk.
- Capital preservation (most conservative asset allocation)
- Conservative growth
- Moderate growt
- Aggressive (most aggressive asset allocation)
Aside from investment and financial planning services, Laird Norton also offers educational workshops. For example, the firm has run workshops specifically to help teens better understand their finances. If you can’t make it to a workshop in person, Laird Norton’s website has articles and guides to help people in various situations.
Laird Norton Wealth Management Investment Philosophy
When working with a new client, the advisors at Laird Norton will work with the client to understand his or her individual needs and goals. Then an advisor will create a customized Investment Policy Statement. This is a document that outlines the client’s time horizon, risk tolerance and investment targets. Laird Norton advisors can then help the client to begin investing.
Asset allocation is major focus for advisors when they create a portfolio. In fact, according to the firm, “asset allocation is the single-most-important component of our investment management process.” Using a variety of performance metrics, advisors will recommend various mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) as well as other investment funds. It uses a combination of actively and passively managed funds. The firm does not manage individual stocks or bonds for clients (except in very limited circumstances).
Laird Norton advises clients to view investing through a more long-term scope, but because of the in-depth research that the firm does across all major asset classes, advisors can also identify short-term investing opportunities. The firm believes that portfolios and asset allocations should adjust as markets change
In addition to standard investment portfolios, Laird Norton also helps clients with socially responsible investing. This includes impact investing, which includes buying debt or equity in companies that promote social good.
It’s worth noting that Laird Norton creates all of its portfolios with a client’s taxes in mind. The firm chooses and manages mutual funds and investments in such a way as to help optimize after-tax returns. Not all advisory firms place as much emphasis on a client’s tax situation.
Fees Under Laird Norton Wealth Management
What you pay in advisor fees will depend on your level of investable assets and what kind of investing plan you have. As a fee-only firm, Laird Norton charges a set fee based on a percentage of a client’s AUM. Clients with smaller portfolios typically pay a higher fee. That percentage fee ranges from 1% for accounts worth less than $3 million down to 0.15% for accounts worth over $30 million. As mentioned earlier, the minimum annual fee for client’s is usually $30,000. The firm may also charge a one-time fee or flat fee for special accounts or projects that last only a set amount of time.
Laird Norton charges a management fee for all client accounts that its advisors manage. You can find the fee schedule for those accounts in the table below.
|Traditional Advisory Services Fee Schedule|
|Market Value of Portfolio||Annual Rate|
|$0 - $3 million||1.00%|
|$3 million - $5 million||0.75%|
|$5 million - $10 million||0.50%|
|$10 million - $30 million||0.25%|
|Over $30 million||0.15%|
Keep in mind that the fee mentioned above is only for Laird Norton’s management services. You also need to pay the expenses and management fees of the individual funds in your portfolio. These fees vary by fund.
If you invest through Lanava Investment Planning, you will also pay an annual fee based on a percentage of your AUM. This service offers a number of different portfolio options but the annual management fees are the same.
|Lanava Investment Planning Fee Schedule|
|Market Value of Portfolio||Annual Rate|
|First $0 - $500,000||0.89%|
|Next $500,000 - $1 million||0.79%|
|More than $1 million||0.69%|
The table below illustrates how Laird Norton’s fee schedule for its traditional advisory services compares to the national median. Note that these fees are estimates and your exact fees may vary depending various factors.
|Estimated Fee Comparison*|
|Your Assets||Laird Norton Wealth Management||National Median Advisory Fees**|
|$1MM||$10,000||$8,500 - $10,000|
|$5MM||$45,000||$25,000 - $32,500|
|*Fee estimates only consider the maximum base fees for the services each firm provides. You may also pay manager fees and other fees, which can vary in amount. **All figures are based on median fee levels according to Bob Veres' 2017 Planning Profession Fee Survey. The above estimates solely take into account AUM-only fees. Total costs will likely be higher due to additional expenses.|
What to Watch out For
Laird Norton works primarily with high-net-worth families and individuals. If that isn’t you, the firm may not be willing or able to take you on as a client. With that being said, the firm may be able to help you find an advisor elsewhere.
While Laird Norton has a strong presence on the West Coast, it does not serve most of the country. That means that residents of most states will need to work with another financial advisor firm.
Laird Norton has not been subject to any legal or disciplinary events in the past decade.
Opening an Account With Laird Norton Wealth Management
In order to open an account with Laird Norton, you will need to speak with an advisor at the firm. You can either contact them directly over the phone or you can reach out via email so that an advisor can contact you. If you visit the firm’s website, you will also find an online contact form. The form will ask you to provide contact information, an estimate of your investable assets, the source of your wealth and any other comments or questions that you have.
Where Laird Norton Wealth Management Is Located
Laird Norton is based in Seattle, Washington. Its office is in the Norton Building, a historic office building in the city. This is the firm’s only office location but it serves clients in the states of California, Colorado, Oregon, Nebraska and Washington.
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