Finding a Top Financial Advisor Firm in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
When it comes to your money, you want to find the very best people to manage it. After all, it’s your financial future we’re talking about. With so many options these days, it can be hard to choose. Fortunately, we did most of the work for you. After hours of research, we created a list of the top 10 financial advisors in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. You can also use our advisor pairing tool to find an advisor who’s the right match for you.
|Rank||Financial Advisor||Assets Managed||Minimum Assets||Financial Services||More Information|
|1||Cleary Gull Advisors Find an Advisor||$2,292,332,200|| |
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|2||Diversified Management Find an Advisor||$903,707,200|| |
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|3||Landaas & Company Find an Advisor||$808,158,500|| |
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|4||Northern Oak Wealth Management Find an Advisor||$707,220,600|| |
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|5||Oarsman Capital Find an Advisor||$401,046,700|| |
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|6||Next Generation Wealth Management Find an Advisor||$239,943,600|| |
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|7||Hogan Financial Find an Advisor||$230,004,300|| |
Minimum fee $10,000
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Minimum fee $10,000
|8||McCarthy Grittinger Financial Group Find an Advisor||$227,862,600|| |
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|9||WFA Asset Management Find an Advisor||$207,445,100|| |
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|10||Kyle Financial Services Find an Advisor||$202,837,800|| |
No strict minimum but generally those with $500,000 or more
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No strict minimum but generally those with $500,000 or more
How We Found the Top Financial Advisor Firms in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
To start, we eliminated any firm in the Milwaukee area that wasn’t registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). This left us with large firms that handle hundreds of millions (or billions) of dollars, and firms that are under government oversight. That also means we cut firms that had disclosures or disciplinary issues. From that pool, we only looked at companies that manage individual client accounts. The final list is arranged from most assets managed to least.
Cleary Gull Advisors
Topping our Milwaukee list with over $2.2 billion in assets under management is Cleary Gull Advisors. This firm has 40 advisors and has been in operation more than 30 years. You’ll need at least $200,000 to become a client. Cleary Gull is a fee-based firm, which means advisors can earn commissions from selling you certain products, such as insurance or mutual funds.
One of Cleary Gull’s differentiating factors is its pilot program, not seen elsewhere on this list. The company works with pilots from American Airlines, Legacy US Air and United Airlines to help with wealth management and retirement planning. If you’re a pilot with one of the three listed airlines, you can attend a free seminar hosted by Cleary Gull.
Cleary Gull Advisors Background
Michael Cleary and seven associates formed Cleary Gull Advisors in 1987 as an institution-facing company. The firm provided research, sales and trading to businesses. However, in the 1990s, the company added investment banking and wealth management in response to client inquiries and market opportunity
Cleary Gull was acquired by a Boston-based firm in 1998, but in 2001, Cleary Gull employees and principals orchestrated a buyback. As of 2016, the company was acquired by Johnson Financial Group.
Michael Cleary still serves as director and president of the firm. His leadership team includes two certified public accountants (CPAs), four certified financial planners (CFPs) and four chartered financial analysts (CFAs).
Cleary Gull Advisors Investment Strategy
This firm emphasizes on company literature that advisors “assist clients in creating custom portfolios,” and that “we’re not required to provide any pre-packaged solutions.” This means that Cleary Gull doesn’t offer set model portfolios, a strategy that some wealth managers use. Instead, your portfolio is built based for your particular financial situation.
The company also says it believes the investment advisory should be approached with a sense of purpose. This means your advisors will manage your money to address long-term and short-term goals.
Cleary Gull screens fund managers and funds using a number of factors, including structure, ownership, history, total return and more. Advisors will also look at fund fees and account size requirements before investing. Cleary Gull also uses fundamental credit analysis, technical analysis and fundamental analysis when deciding which funds or securities to invest in.
With more than $1 billion less in assets under management than our first firm, Diversified Management is our no. 2 firm in Milwaukee. The firm is fee-only (one of five on this list), meaning advisors only make money from a set management fee rather than from commissions for selling products. You need at least $500,000 to become a client, and 90% of all Diversified Management clients have what’s considered a high net worth, i.e. a net worth of at least $1.5 million.
The company has seven advisors and has offices in Milwaukee’ historic Third Ward as well as North Scottsdale, Arizona.
Diversified Management Background
Mark Homan founded this firm in 1993. He is a certified public accountant (CPA) and a certified financial planner (CFP). The company is a strong proponent of certifications; all DMI client advisors are CFPs. This is not a requirement by the government, but rather a requirement by DMI to ensure its advisors are well-educated in financial planning. The company also has an enrolled agent (EA), which is an advanced tax designation.
Michael Schmidt serves as the president and chief compliance officer. He’s been with the company since 1996 and owns about 25% of Diversified Management.
DMI is a member of the Financial Planning Association, the National Association of Estate Planners and Councils, Wisconsin Institute of Certified Public Accountants and Association of International Certified Professional Accountants.
Diversified Management Investment Management
DMI will “consider everything” before recommending anything. This means getting your full financial picture before structuring your investment allocation. Your advisor will aim for strong results and long-term financial security.
Your investment plan will be based on your risk tolerance, cash flow needs, financial goals, time horizon and current assets. DMI advisors prefer meeting with you at the end of each calendar quarter to review your your objectives as well as go over your investment reports.
DMI primarily uses fundamental analysis to evaluate investment opportunities. The company also uses Morningstar Advisor Workstation and Charles Schwab Advisor Services for information.
Landaas & Company
This is the first company on our list that has minimum required assets below six digits; you can become a client with only $50,000 (compared to Cleary Gull’s $200,000 and Diversified Management’s $500,000). That might be the reason why the company has the most client accounts out of any firm in the top 10, with more than 2,300, a number that’s more than double any other firm. Cleary Gull is the second-largest, but has just 700 accounts. Less than 10% of those accounts belong to high-net-worth clients.
Landaas & Company is a fee-based firm and has 20 advisors.
Landaas & Company Background
Robert “Bob” Landaas is the chairman, CEO and founder of the firm. He is the sole owner of the firm and has more than 30 years’ experience in the financial services industry. Landaas is well-known in the Milwaukee area as the voice behind the radio show “Money Talk,” for more than 20 years. He also was co-host on “Dollar Signs,” a public TV show that was nationally distributed.
Landaas & Company is proud to have helped many of its receptionists work their way up through the company. In face, the senior vice president and chief compliance officer, Jean Baley, joined the company in 1989 as a receptionist and worked her way up to her current role and holds four regulatory licenses.
Landaas & Company Investment Philosophy
Landaas & Company subscribes to the theories put forth by Harry Markowitz, economist and Nobel Prize winner, known as modern portfolio theory. This is one of the prevailing theories guiding investment firms in the U.S., and Bob Landaas, founder of Landaas & Company, claims to be one of the first implementers of the theory.
What this means for you is that your advisors will strive to reduce risk while maximizing returns. This means finding the correct diversified asset allocation. Landaas states that, “the most important issue of investing your money is the stock/bond mix.” He said it’s the hardest balance to get right, in order to maximize your returns. The company uses mutual funds, ETFs and individual securities in the construction of your portfolio.
Northern Oak Wealth Management
Northern Oak Wealth Management (NOWM) is an employee-owned fee-based firm. The company manages over $700 million, and has an account minimum of $100,000. Even though the account minimum is less than our no. 1 and no. 2 Milwaukee firms (Cleary Gull and Diversified Management), the company claims to have 100% high-net-worth clients of the 365 accounts the firm manages.
Founded in 1976, NOWM ties with Kyle Financial Services (no. 10) as the oldest firms on this list.
Northern Oak Wealth Management Background
Northern Oak Wealth Management has operated as a registered investment advisors since 1976. The company is completely employee-owned.
David Becker joined the firm in 2001 and is the president and chief investment officer. He is a part-owner and is a chartered financial analyst (CFA).
Mark Zellmer is part-owner, chairman and portfolio manager of the firm. He began his investment career in 1982 and has worked in financial services ever since.
Northern Oak Wealth Management Portfolio Management
This firm subscribes to model investment portfolios. What this means is your financial goals and risk tolerance (as well as cash needs and retirement timeline) are used to put your money in a pre-set model portfolio that best aligns with your objectives. This differs from fully customized portfolios, which is what firms such as Cleary Gull offer. Instead, your money will be put into a specialized product.
NOWM offers Income Roadmap™, a strategy that uses equities, fixed income and alternative assets to help you achieve a flow of income. Select Dividend Growth Portfolio is an equity-oriented income product that invests in common stocks of large companies with above-average earning growth. Equity Growth Portfolio is invested in ETFs, and follows a core/satellite investment strategy. Fixed Income Portfolio is for clients that need income in a tax-efficient manner. The last portfolio choice is Enhanced Sector Fund. This portfolio consists of industry-specific and sector-based ETFs (but may also include stocks). The goal of this fund is to outperform the S&P 500.
Oarsman Capital, a fee-based firm in operation since 2000, has 10 advisors and over $400 million in assets under management. The firm has a minimum fee of $100,000 to become a client, making it as expensive as Northern Oak Wealth Management, but less expensive than Diversified Management. You can find Oarsman Capital offices across Wisconsin, including locations in Milwaukee, Ephraim, Prairie du Sac, Brookfield and Appleton.
Oarsman Capital Background
Robert Phelps, Alan Purintun and Gerald Nackers founded Oarsman Capital in 2000. Phelps is the president of the firm and has worked in financial services since 1986. He has been designated a chartered financial analyst (CFA) since 1997.
Purintun is the vice president, chief compliance officer and director of research. He’s managed investment portfolios for high-net-worth individuals since 1994. Purintun was an intelligence officer with the CIA for six years prior to becoming an investment manager. He has an MBA from Dartmouth and an undergraduate degree from Yale. He’s also a chartered financial analyst (CFA).
Nackers has 30 years’ experience as a financial markets professional. He’s an accredited asset management specialist. Nackers specializes in corporate retirement plans.
Oarsman employs one other CFA and a certified financial planner (CFP). The company does not employ any chartered public accountants (CPAs).
Oarsman Capital Investment Management
If you have less than $500,000 to invest, you’ll be put in the Oarsman Blueprint platform for investment management. This is most similar to a robo-advisor, where your money is managed digitally by algorithms. Your portfolio will consist of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and is automatically rebalanced.
Those with at least $500,000 will have customized portfolio management. The company’s core equity portfolio generally holds 40 to 50 individual common stocks. Your portfolio will be broadly diversified and built with the intention of long-term investing.
Advisors may also add ETFs and some income-producing bonds or bond funds to your portfolio. Less than 15% of the portfolio will hold hybrid securities (such as REITs, natural resource funds and high-yield bonds).
Next Generation Wealth Management
Another Milwaukee fee-only firm on our advisor list is Next Generation Wealth Management. This firm requires at least $250,000 in assets for new clients, which is the third-highest minimum of any advisor on this list.
The firm has four advisors and offers investment management, financial planning, relationship management and strategic partnerships. Next Generation Wealth Management has more than 200 clients and over $200 million assets under management.
Next Generation Wealth Management Background
David Braaten and David Massart co-founded Next Generation Wealth Management after spending 20 years apiece working on Wall Street. These Midwest natives returned to Wisconsin and founded the firm in 2005.
Massart serves at the president of the firm. He’s a former Wells Fargo manager and former director at Strong Private Client. Braaten is still co-owner of the firm but doesn’t have a day-to-day presence at Next Generation Wealth Management.
The rest of the team consists of one certified financial planner (CFP) who also is a certified investment management analyst (CIMA) and a certified financial analyst (CFA). The firm has no female employees.
Next Generation Wealth Management Investment Process
When you work with Next Generation Wealth Management, you’ll be guided through a six-step investment process with your advisor. You’ll discuss investment recommendations “with emphasis on asset allocation, investment selection/evaluation and portfolio risk management.” Your portfolio will be created using multiple asset classes, including ETfs, mutual funds, hedge funds and separate account managers.
You won’t have model portfolios to fit your financial objectives into, such as Northern Oak Wealth Management (no. 6). Instead, your portfolio is custom-made to meet your financial goals, as long as you have at least $250,000 to manage.
The company uses fundamental, technical and cyclical analysis when evaluating securities in which to invest. The company also uses passive and tactical allocation strategies.
Hogan Financial is another Milwaukee financial advisor firm with a client base of mainly high-net-worth clients (the others are Diversified Management, Northern Oak Wealth Management and Kyle Financial services). Unlike the rest of the list however, Hogan was founded by a woman more than 20 years ago. Paula Hogan still serves as the CEO.
The company is on the small side, with just three advisors, making it the third-smallest company by advisor count on the list. Hogan Financial is one of five fee-only financial advisors on our Milwaukee top 10. Fee-only is a harder standard to meet for monetary compensation. To become a client, you’ll likely need at least $1 million for the $10,000 minimum annual fee to make sense.
Hogan Financial Background
Paula Hogan founded the firm in 1992 with the vision of “the ideal advisory relationship: personal, professional, and deeply respectful of the clients hopes and dreams.” Hogan was an early adopter of the fee-only business model, where advisors get paid from serving clients, not selling products. Hogan is a certified financial planner (CFP) and certified financial analyst (CFA) and is the majority owner, CEO and chief compliance officer of the firm.
Clint Wonder became a shareholder of the firm in 2017 and serves as the COO. Wonder is a CFP and certified public accountant (CPA) with the personal financial specialist designation (PFS).
Hogan Financial Investment Philosophy
Hogan Financial advisors consider your overall willingness and ability to take financial risk when constructing your portfolio. This includes considering cost and tax efficiency as well. With those factors in mind, advisors seek to gain exposure to global markets and diversify allocations.
Each portfolio’s strategy is unique and is based on client financial objectives, income needs and time horizon. Often, advisors will recommend index type funds, but individual securities, funds and annuities are also used.
McCarthy Grittinger Financial Group
McCarthy Grittinger Financial Group, or MG Financial Group for short, is the first firm on this list that doesn’t have an account minimum or a minimum annual fee. That means clients with any amount can get started with this firm (though $250,000 is generally the lowest amount that makes sense). Like Hogan Financial (no. 7), MG Financial Group is a fee-only financial advisor.
The company has five advisors and the majority of clients don’t have high net worths.
McCarthy Grittinger Financial Group Background
John McCarthy founded the firm in 1995. In 2003, Scott Grittinger joined the firm, eventually buying McCarthy’s ownership shares in 2014. Grittenger serves as the managing partner, majority owner and chief compliance officer of MG Financial Group. He has over 25 years experience in financial services and is a certified financial planner (CFP).
Matthew Miler and Jacqueline Schneider are minority owners of the firm. Miler is a certified public accountant (CPA) and CFP and has worked in financial services since 2002. Scheider is also a CFP and has worked in the industry for over 17 years.
McCarthy Grittinger Financial Group Investment Philosophy
MG Financial Group helps clients “identify, evaluate and achieve their financial goals.” After doing so, advisors will make investment recommendations that follow the investment theory of asset allocation. This means a well-diversified portfolio that has multiple types of investments including open-end mutual funds, ETFs and U.S. Treasury debt.
The ETFs and mutual funds that MG Financial Group advisors recommend are generally those that invest in U.S. stocks, foreign stocks, fixed-income securities, U.S. government securities, corporate debt and municipal securities.
WFA Asset Management
WFA Asset Management is the smallest firm on this list with only one employee serving as an advisor. This fee-based financial advisor firm has been in operation since 1986 and manages more than $200 million for over 500 clients.
This firm has one of the highest account minimums on our list, requiring at least $500,000 to start a relationship. This ties WFA Asset Management with Diversified Management, our no. 2 firm.
WFA Asset Management Background
The company is derived from Wisconsin Financial Advisors, Inc, a small, Milwaukee-based econometrics firm that provided mathematical analysis for multiple firms in the mid-1980s. Since then, the firm has grown into WFA Asset Management Corporation (1986), a full-service investment and financial advisory firm.
The president, chief compliance officer and sole owner of the company is Nicholas Enea. He joined the firm in 1994 as an investment advisor. Enea co-chairs WFA Asset Management’s investment management committee and is a certified financial planner (CFP) and holds a Series 65 securities license.
The company also employs a certified public accountant and a certified divorce financial analyst (CDFA).
WFA Asset Management Investment Management
At this firm, you can be sure that your advisor is committed to long-term asset growth. The company’s “primary goal as investment advisors is not to see how much money we can make for our clients by next week or next month.” Instead, your portfolio is made to generate growth over a long timeline. WFA Asset Management adheres to the rationale that diversified asset allocations are the best bet for investors. The company follows modern portfolio theory, which provides investment allocation models for each risk level.
Your portfolio is custom-built for your financial goals and objectives. Advisors at MFA Asset Management use four factors: goals, horizons, risk tolerance and financial situation to guide your investment plan.
Kyle Financial Services
Kyle Financial Services is the oldest firm on this list, having been in business since incorporation in 1976. The firm has two employees who act as advisors, making it the second-smallest on the list (no. 9, WFA Asset Management is the smallest).
While Kyle Financial Services materials state that there’s no fixed minimum investment requirement, the firm also notes that it targets clients with at least $500,000. That said, more than 90% of the company’s business comes from high-net-worth clients, which generally indicates a net worth of at least $1.5 million. This fee-only financial advisor has the smallest number of clients out of our Milwaukee top 10 with just about 100 accounts. The firm has clients in Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, New York, Florida, California and Oregon.
Kyle Financial Services Background
The firm was incorporated in 1976 and is owned by Susan Bischoff, Julie Averill, Nancy Kasten, Wendy Eldridge and Robin Kyle. This is probably the most female owners of one financial firm that we’ve seen after reviewing over 100 firms.
Kevin Ellis serves as the president. He is a certified financial planner (CFP) and certified public accountant (CPA) with over 30 years of financial services experience.
Kyle Financial Services employs two additional CPAs, including a CPA with the personal financial specialist (PFS) designation.
Kyle Financial Services Investment Philosophy
Advisors at this financial advisor firm adhere to the following investment tenets: asset allocation, broad portfolio diversification, systematic rebalancing and being mindful of high expenses and taxes. Kyle Financial Services “have concluded that the most important decision an investor faces is the asset allocation decision.” This means how your portfolio is divided among stocks and bonds and cash. Each person is different, based on their time horizon and tolerance for risk.
The firm, like many other financial advisors, follows modern portfolio theory. This theory emphasizes the importance of diversification for the best risk/return ratio. Your portfolio will mainly consist of mutual funds and ETFs.