Modern Woodmen of America (MWA), known officially as MWA Financial Services, Inc., is a financial advisor firm that offers financial planning, investment management, annuity and life insurance services. The firm is headquartered in Rock Island, Illinois, a town on the border between Illinois and Iowa.
MWA works with both individual and institutional, providing them with financial planning and portfolio management services. It is a fee-based firm that's also a registered broker-dealer.
Modern Woodmen of America Background
MWA can trace its roots back to 1883, when it was originally established in Lyons, Iowa. According to the firm's website, its founder, Joseph Cullen Root, thought the name Modern Woodmen "was the perfect symbol to illustrate his goal of clearing away financial burdens for families."
The firm, which was established as a broker-dealer in 2001 and became a registered investment advisor in 2004, is a fraternal financial services organization and is uniquely involved in its community. It doesn't have stockholders, and it has hundreds of thousands of members throughout the U.S. The firm's president and CEO is Jerald J. Lyphout. Modern Woodmen of America is the principal owner of the firm.
Modern Woodmen of America Client Types and Minimum Account Sizes
While Modern Woodmen of America works with a limited number of charitable organizations, corporations and businesses, the vast majority of its client base comprises individuals without a high net worth. The firm also works with a small number of high net worth individuals, as well.
Minimum account sizes at MWA vary based on the type of account you're looking to open. Advisor-managed accounts made available through Pershing, MWA's custodian, have a $50,000 minimum investment requirement. However, MWA reserves the right to waive the required minimum account balances. Other third-party managers may have other requirements, and all minimums may be negotiable.
Services Offered by Modern Woodmen of America
When it comes to financial advising, MWA provides clients with both investment management and financial planning services. The firm breaks down its offerings into the following categories:
- Investment advisor services (flat or hourly fee)
- Adviser managed accounts
- Third-party managed accounts
The firm's investment advisor services can include help on such topics as retirement planning, education planning, tax planning and anything else that falls under the umbrella of financial planning. Investment management is provided on a non-discretionary basis, and the firm does have wrap fee programs available.
Modern Woodmen of America Investment Philosophy
When it comes to investing philosophies and strategies, MWA tailors its services to the specific needs and objectives of each individual client. When the firm begins a relationship with a new client, it takes note of the client's risk tolerance, time horizon, desired investments and other relevant information. Advisors then follow up at least annually to make sure that the client's goals are still in line with their portfolio allocation.
Advisors at MWA tend to use fundamental, technical and charting methods of analysis to inform their investment decisions. Specific strategies may involve other research and analysis methods. Certain third-party managers may use other methods to evaluate investments as well.
Fees Under Modern Woodmen of America
Modern Woodmen of America's fees are either fixed, hourly or based on a percentage of a client's total assets under management (AUM). The firm's investment advisor services come with an hourly fee of $25 to $300 per hour or a flat fee of $25 to $5,000. Where your rate falls on these scales depends on the scope of your needs.
Portfolio management clients are charged a fee based on a percentage of their AUM. Advisor-managed accounts and third-party managed accounts incur annual fees of 0.25% to 1.50%. Specific fees are determined on a case-by-case basis, depending on the scope of services.
What to Watch Out For
MWA Financial Services lists a single disclosure on its Form ADV. This disclosure relates to an issue where an advisor of the firm was alleged to have engaged in "dishonest and unethical" practices in regard to the liquidation of a client account into an MWA fixed annuity. The Missouri Securities Division alleged the firm failed to reasonably supervise this advisor, resulting in an agreement to engage in additional training, pay $5,000 for the cost of the investigation and pay $10,000 to Missouri's Investor Education and Protection Fund.
MWA is a fee-based firm, which means some of its advisors can receive commissions from the sale of certain securities. This creates a potential conflict of interest, though the firm remains a fiduciary, which legally obligates it to act in your best interest at all times.
Opening an Account with Modern Woodmen of America
If you're interested in opening an account with MWA, go to the firm's website and click "Find a Rep" or contact us. From there you can fill out a contact form, call the firm at any one of its phone numbers or visit a branch in person.
All information is accurate as of the writing of this article.
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