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Northern Trust Investments Review

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This review was produced by SmartAsset based on publicly available information. The named firm and its financial professionals have not reviewed, approved, or endorsed this review and are not responsible for its accuracy. Review content is produced by SmartAsset independently of any business relationships that might exist between SmartAsset and the named firm and its financial professionals, and firms and financial professionals having business relationships with SmartAsset receive no special treatment or consideration in SmartAsset’s reviews. This page contains links to SmartAsset’s financial advisor matching tool, which may or may not match you with the firm mentioned in this review or its financial professionals.

Northern Trust Investments, Inc. (NTI) is a fee-only financial advisor firm that’s based at its flagship location in Chicago, Illinois. The firm has offices around the world -- and it even operates its own proprietary mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

The firm is fee-based, meaning advisors earns compensation from both client-paid fees and third-party commissions.

Northern Trust Investments Background

Northern Trust Investments is the U.S.-based arm of Northern Trust Asset Management. However, Northern Trust Asset Management is merely a branch of the entire Northern Trust Corporation, a publicly traded financial company. Northern Trust Corporation has been in business since 1889, while NTI was opened in 1988.

Northern Trust Investments Client Types and Minimum Account Sizes

More than 40,000 clients are currently enrolled in Northern Trust Investments’ services, and a large percentage of them are high-net-worth and non-high-net-worth individuals. The firm works with a multitude of other clients, though, such as businesses, pension plans, employee benefit plans, trusts, foundations, endowments, public and corporate retirement funds, insurance companies, registered and unregistered investment pools, sovereign wealth funds, government entities, banks and collective funds.

Northern Trust Investment institutes a variable minimum account size requirement. Factors that decide both if you’ll have a minimum and what it’ll be if you do include the type of client you are and what investment strategy/asset classes you choose.

Services Offered by Northern Trust Investments

Here is an overview of the services available through Northern Trust:

  • Separately managed accounts (SMAs)
    • Individualized discretionary investment management based on:
      • Life goals
      • Risk tolerance
      • Liquidity needs
      • Tax situation
    • Wealth management
    • Asset allocation planning
    • Brokerage services
    • Financial planning
      • Retirement planning
      • Retirement savings rollovers
      • Cash flow maximization
      • Tax minimization
      • Risk management
      • Philanthropic gift planning
      • Business ownership planning
      • Trust planning
      • Estate planning
    • Family wealth management
      • Multigenerational planning
      • Wealth protection
      • Generational wealth transitions
      • Educational services
  • Investment management for investment pools, like:
    • Mutual funds
    • ETFs
    • Bank common and collective funds
    • Other U.S. and non-U.S. investment funds
  • Multi-manager strategies
    • Selection and termination of affiliated and non-affiliated investment advisors
  • Wrap programs
  • Proprietary and non-affiliated model investment portfolios
  • Investment research and advisory services
  • Overlay services
    • Currency hedging
    • Beta management
    • Cash equitization
  • Index services
  • Transition management
    • Restructure or reallocation of assets

It's important to note that Northern Trust Investments doesn't provide financial planning services. 

Northern Trust Investments Investment Philosophy

Northern Trust Investments uses a plethora of different investment strategies to fulfill clients’ needs. For example, there are equity, fixed income, multi-manager, model portfolio, transition management and overlay services. These are chosen based on your risk tolerance, tax considerations, liquidity needs and more.

Common investments used by NTI are stocks, bonds, registered and unregistered investment companies, money market instruments, ETFs, non-U.S. issuer securities, futures, warrants, forwards, inflation-linked securities, short sales, over-the-counter (OTC) securities, real estate investment trusts (REITs), Rule 144A securities, government obligations, derivatives, debt securities, options contracts, asset-backed securities and commercial paper.

Fees Under Northern Trust Investments

The majority of Northern Trust Investments’ fee schedule is listed in the tables below. These rates are charged to your account on either a monthly or quarterly basis in arrears. All fees will be relayed to you in writing via the investment advisory agreement. You can have your fees deducted from your account’s balance automatically, but you must authorize NTI to do this. If not, you will receive a bill in the mail listing your charges.

Separately Managed Account (SMA) Fees
Portfolio Strategy Annual Fee Range
Fundamental Active Equity 0.25% - 1.00%
Quantitative Equity 0.20% - 0.65%
Passive Equity 0.02% - 0.30%
Fixed-Income 0.02% - 0.30%
Multi-Asset Class Up to 0.50%


Investment Pool Fees
Portfolio Strategy Annual Fee Range
Fundamental Active Equity 0.40% - 1.10%
Quantitative Equity 0.17% - 1.10%
Passive Equity 0.005% - 0.70%
Fixed-Income 0.015% - 0.80%
Multi-Asset Class Up to 0.60%


Fees for Other Services
Service/Program Annual Fee Range
Model Portfolios Up to 0.50%
Investment Research & Advisory Services Negotiable
Multi-Manager Strategies Negotiable
Outsourced chief investment officer (OCIO) Negotiable
Transition Management Negotiable
Index Services Negotiable
Overlay Services Negotiable

Northern Trust Investments also charges performance-based fees to some of its clients. For the most part, these charges will be based on a percentage of your portfolio’s capital gains or capital appreciation.

What to Watch Out For

Northern Trust Investments has four disclosures present on its SEC-filed Form ADV. One of these applies to the firm directly, whereas the other three are attributed to advisory affiliates.

Clients of Northern Trust Investments may have performance-based fees included in their fee schedule. This raises a potential conflict of interest, as NTI’s advisors may be inclined to utilize riskier investment philosophies to induce higher returns, and, in turn, more compensation. The firm's advisors may also earn commissions on certain transactions, which is also a conflict of interest. 

Despite these arrangements, Northern Trust and its team of advisors are fiduciaries, meaning they are legally bound to act in your best financial interest at all times.

Opening an Account With Northern Trust Investments

To get in touch with Northern Trust, visit the contact page on its website. This online resource offers a tool that will help you locate one of its branches in the U.S. or elsewhere. You can also call the firm’s general inquiries line at (312) 630-6000 to find out more information.

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

Tips to Step Up Your Investment Game

  • Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can have a free introductory call with your advisor matches to decide which one you feel is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • While deciding upon your risk tolerance may seem a bit abstract, devising a specific asset allocation makes it more concrete. This investment principle dictates what percentage of each investment type you should include in your portfolio in order to stay in line with a predetermined risk level. SmartAsset’s asset allocation calculator can help simplify this sometimes complex process.

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.

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