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Modera Wealth Management Review

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Modera Wealth Management, LLC

Modera Wealth Management is a fee-only wealth management firm that’s headquartered in Westwood, New Jersey and has offices throughout the country. The firm has more than $2 billion in assets under management and 30 financial advisors on staff.

Modera has no set requirements regarding minimum account size, but it does charge minimum quarterly fees. The firm advises both individuals and high-net-worth individuals, plus a number of institutional clients including a pooled investment vehicles, pension and profit-sharing plans, charitable organizations and other corporations.

Modera Wealth Management Background

Modera Wealth Management was formed in 2011 as the result of the merger between Black Bay Financial Group and Modera Capital. Black Bay had been in business since 1997 and Modera Capital had been in business since 1983. 

The firm has grown significantly since its creation. In 2014, Modera Wealth Management merged with Joseph Capital Management, which had been in business since 2001. In 2016, the company purchased Graf Financial advisors, and in 2017 the firm merged again with Southern Wealth Management. 

The firm is owned by Modera Capital, which is owned by John Ceparano, Karl Graf, Robert Hockett, Barry Kaplan, Adam Leone, Sara “Sally” Long, Thomas Orecchio, George Padula, Robert Siefert, Kevin Sweeney and Mark Willoughby. Each of these people are principals and employees of the company.

What Types of Clients Does Modera Wealth Management Accept?

Modera Wealth Management serves both individuals and high-net-worth individuals. It doesn’t require a set minimum investment to start an account, so it might be a good choice for some newer, lower-level investors. However, the firm does charge a minimum quarterly fee, so you should make sure what you’re paying in fees makes sense based on how much you are investing.

Modera is a relatively small firm, with less than 1,500 clients and only 30 advisors on staff. This firm may appeal to investors who want to work with a firm that has fewer clients and is more likely to be able to devote more time to each individual client. 

Modera Wealth Management Minimum Account Sizes

No minimum initial investment is required to start an account at Modera, but there is a minimum quarterly fee. The firm charges a minimum fee of $5,000 per quarter for wealth management services, $4,000 per quarter for portfolio management services and $1,375 per quarter for retirement plan consulting.  

The firm does note that its wealth management services are designed for clients with at least $2 million in investable assets.

Services Offered by Modera Wealth Management

Services offered by Modera Wealth Management include:

  • Tax services
  • Retirement planning
  • Cash flow and savings analysis
  • Risk management
  • Insurance review
  • Disability planning
  • College funding
  • Intergenerational wealth transfer strategies
  • Charitable giving
  • Investment management

Modera Wealth Management Investment Philosophy 

Modera Wealth Management creates an individualized plan for each of its clients. The firm notes that just as no two people are alike, neither are any two financial plans.The firm takes a long-term approach when developing a plan so that clients can be taken care of not just in the present but also into the future. 

Investments offered by the firm generally include mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, individual debt securities, bonds and stocks. Stock investments are grouped based on size, valuation and domicile. Bond asset classes are grouped based on maturity length, credit quality, issuer type and domicile. 

Diversification and risk management are key parts of the firm’s strategy. It places an emphasis on downside protection and on achieving the desired rate of return without adding unneeded volatility.

Fees Under Modera Wealth Management

Notably, Modera Wealth Management is a fee-only firm, which means it only earns money from the fees that its clients pay, not through commissions or from selling products. The firm charges clients for its investment advisory services based on a percentage of assets under management. Fees are paid quarterly. The annual fee ranges from 0.15% to 1.00% for wealth management services and 0.10% to 0.80% for portfolio management services. A minimum fee of $5,000 is required for wealth management services. The minimum fee for portfolio management services is $4,000.

For financial planning and consulting services, the firm charges either a fixed fee or an hourly fee. Fixed fees run as high as $10,000, while hourly fees typicially range from $200 to $500 an hour. Exact rates depend on the services provided, though the minimum fee is typically $2,000. Modera may offer a full or partial discount to clients who use the firm's wealth managment or portfolio management services.

Modea charges an annual fixed fee for investment consulting/investment monitoring services, which ranges from $7,000 to $50,000 a year. These fees can also cover financial planning services.

The chart below compares fees at Modera Wealth Management to those of other firms. These fee estimates are based on the maximum fees for the firm’s wealth management services. 

Estimated Fee Comparison*
Your Assets Modera Wealth Management National Median Advisory Fees**
$500K $5,000 $5,000
$1MM $10,000 $8,500 - $10,000
$5MM $50,000 $25,000 - $32,500
$10MM $100,000 $50,000
*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

Modera Wealth Management is a relatively small company. Unlike some wealth management firms, it is not connected to a major bank or global financial institution. This means the firm doesn’t have the connections to other financial services that some managers have. If, for instance, you want to do commercial banking at the same company from which you get your wealth management services, know that Modera won’t be able to provide that.

Disclosures

There are no disclosure on record for Modera Wealth Management from the past 10 years.

Opening an Account With Modera Wealth Management

To talk to an advisor from Modera, you can fill out this form on the company’s website. The form requires you to answer basic questions about your identity and location. A box is also provided where you can state if you are interested in wealth management, financial planning or something else. There is also an option to write a message to the firm about who you are and what you are looking for in a potential financial advisor relationship.

Where Is Modera Wealth Management Located?

The firm has its headquarters in Westwood, New Jersey. It also has offices in Boston; Charlotte, North Carolina; Atlanta; and Inverness, Florida.

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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 cost of living in retirement there.

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

Methodology SmartAsset calculated the average cost of living for retirees in the largest U.S. cities. Using that calculation, we determined how many years $1 million would last in retirement in each major city.

First, we looked at data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on the average annual expenditures of seniors throughout the country. 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.

We assumed the $1 million would grow at a real return (interest minus inflation) of 2%, reflecting the typical return on a conservative investment portfolio. Finally, we divided $1 million by the sum of each of those annual numbers to determine how long $1 million would last in each of the cities in our study.

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Council for Community and Economic Research