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Per Stirling Capital Management Review

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by Nina Semczuk Updated
Per Stirling Capital Management

 

Per Stirling Capital Management is one of two firms on our top 10 Austin financial advisors list that takes on clients with $250,000 or more in assets. Most wealth management companies have minimums of $500,000 or $1 million. The company also has one of the largest staffs on our list, despite not having the highest number of clients. That translates to plenty of personalized service if you become a client. Formed in 2009, Per Stirling has grown to two offices, both located in Austin.  

Who Should Use Per Stirling Management? 

Per Stirling would be the first to tell you that you might be better off with a robo-advisor and simple investing instead of becoming a client if you don’t meet the portfolio minimum of $250,000. Even then, most competing advisors start at a higher number, which means it might make sense to hold off on engaging an advisor until you’re well above that amount. 

However, if you’re wealthy and you need the services that a financial advisor firm can offer, such as tax planning, education and college planning for your children, asset protection and wealth transfer strategies (among others), then Per Stirling might be right for you. The company operates in a format unlike most other competing firms, in that your advisor is an independent contractor who works for Per Stirling. That means you’re mainly served by your one advisor, not a team.  

The company’s guiding investment strategy is to create “excess alpha.” This means seeking a high performance for your portfolio. The company tries to get you long-term returns that are higher than expected with given risk. While that’s usually the goal for every financial advisor firm, Per Stirling clearly states it as its philosophy, which means it’s at the forefront of your advisor’s mindset.  

You’ll receive personalized service and have the option of working with either one of Per Stirling’s two Austin offices. While it’s not a requirement, most people opt to be within driving distance of their financial advisor. That means, if you’re Texas-based, you’re an ideal client as the firm is only registered in Texas at the moment. Per Stirling accepts individuals, trusts and estates. 

What to Watch out for With Per Stirling 

Of course, as with any business, there are a few potential downsides of working with Per Stirling. For starters, there isn’t a standardized fee schedule. What this means is that within the firm itself, you’ll find that advisors charge different management fees. This could be beneficial, if you find that you’re paying less than average, but overall, it’s not as transparent as it could be. 

The company is fee-only, similar to Durbin Bennett and Austin Asset, but some of the advisors are dual-registered with a broker-dealer. This means they could stand to earn a commission for selling you a product.  

Another potential downside is that financial planning services are not included within your management fee. This is the case with about half of the Austin firms profiled, so it’s not unusual, but something to consider if you’re comparing prices and services. Once again, the firm doesn’t give hard numbers for fees, so if you’re interested in financial planning services, you may want to speak to several advisors before you commit to the firm.

Per Stirling Advisors: What to Know  

More than 25 people work at Per Stirling and 19 employees serve as advisors. Not all of the advisors are certified financial planners (CFPs), but 10 out of 19 financial advisors have this additional certification at Per Stirling. 

The company has one of the largest staffs on our top 10 list, and serves over 700 clients. Despite the large staff and high number of CFPs, only two advisors are certified public accountants (CPAs).  

In addition to serving as advisors, some of the staff are dual-registered with B.B. Graham & Company as broker-dealers. This means your advisor can accept commissions for products sold through that company. Other than that, Per Stirling is a fee-only fiduciary. This means your advisor makes money solely from the assets under management percentage fee. You won’t be sold insurance, annuities, mutual funds or other products at your advisor’s gain. Your interests are required to come first in the relationship, not commissions. 

John Per O’Sullivan and Robert Stirling Phipps III founded Per Stirling in 2009, and serve as the managing director and director of the company. 

Disclosures  

No advisor employed at Per Stirling has incurred a disclosure or disciplinary action. 

Per Stirling Investment Philosophy  

Per Stirling’s independent contractor model translates to each advisor having his or her own investment philosophy. However, the firm still has an overarching mission. “Excess alpha” is what the firm calls it. It means the company tries to get high risk-adjusted returns, i.e. long-term returns that are higher than expected when considering the amount of risk in the portfolio.  

Another tenet of the firm is proactive adjustment of portfolio risk. Your advisor will consider the market environment future projection when while managing your portfolio. This means your allocations will change based on research and anticipation of change.  

Per Stirling uses fundamental, technical and statistical analysis as well as economic research to decide which securities to invest in. Most assets are invested in no-load mutual funds and exchange-traded funds.  

Per Stirling Capital Management Portfolio Styles 

Your portfolio is custom built based on your objectives. This could be capital preservation, cash flow or long-term growth — it’s up to you. Your advisor will construct your portfolio to reflect your desired outcomes. That means, the portfolio style varies depending on what you choose as most important. 

In addition to custom-designed portfolios, Per Stirling also offers separately managed accounts. These are the firm’s signature proprietary growth portfolios and are managed by the firm’s two directors (and co-founders). If you choose to invest in a separately managed account program, you’ll pay an additional management fee of 0.5%. 

The three portfolios are: 

  • Core growth
  • Conservative growth
  • Growth portfolio

The first two portfolios, core growth and conservative growth, aim to maintain an optimal allocation between stocks, bonds real estate, cash and other asset classes. The approach for these is dynamic and asset allocation-based. The management uses economic research, and fundamental and statistical analysis for this portfolio.  

For the growth portfolio, the management team concentrates allocations where there is compelling investment opportunities. Fundamental and technical analysis is used for managing this portfolio.  

Starting an Account With Per Stirling 

Before engaging with the company, you have the option to sign up online to receive the Per Stirling Capital outlook, newsletters or other company materials to get to know the company. 

To get started as a client at Per Stirling, you can call, email or fill out a contact form on the company’s website.  

Next, you’ll decide whether you want portfolio management as a separately managed account, or, the more holistic wealth management services. Financial planning services include: 

  • Retirement planning
  • Investment management
  • Insurance planning
  • Estate planning
  • Asset protection strategies
  • College funding strategies 

Then, you can read each team member’s bio to get a sense of who you’d like to work with. Because all advisors are independent contractors, you’ll work with one advisor rather than a team. Some companies, such as Austin Asset, operate initially with a team approach for wealth planning services. At Per Stirling, you mainly work with your advisor alone. 

In the initial meeting or meetings with your advisor, you’ll discuss your financial outlook and objectives. This can include your retirement, estate planning, college planning and cash flow goals as well as wealth transfer and charitable giving strategies. It’s all centered on your needs and financial goals. 

Your portfolio’s construction and ongoing management will be based on the goals and needs you discussed. This also includes your risk tolerance as well as projected retirement age.  

Generally, financial advisors will develop an investment policy statement (IPS) that’s based off of your conversations and financials. This document serves as a guide to how your advisor will manage your assets.  

While most wealth advisors recommend yearly meetings after the initial discussions, how often you meet is based on your expectations and needs. Usually you’ll receive quarterly updates on your portfolio performance and you have the option to call your advisor as needed. 

Per Stirling Capital Management Fees: A Closer Look  

Per Stirling doesn’t have a set management fee schedule. This differs from other Austin-based firms such as Austin Asset and Durbin Bennett that publish the percentage fee charged. 

This is because Per Stirling operates with all its advisors as independent contractors, rather than employees. Essentially, it means that your advisor works for himself or herself. Therefore, fees and services rendered depends on each advisor. According to Robert Scripps, Per Stirling’s director and co-founder, the average fee across the firm is 0.77%.  

While this may sound too low to be true, especially compared to its competition, remember that it’s an average. There could be one advisor charging very low fees because most of his clients have high net worths. Generally speaking, the larger a portfolio, the lower the fee percentage.

Per Stirling bills quarterly, which means you’ll pay your fee every three months. You can calculate your fee by multiplying your account value by the management fee and then dividing by 365 and then multiplying by 91. For example, a $500,000 account times 0.0077 (0.77% fee) is $3,850 for the year. Divide that by 365 and then multiply by 91 for your estimated quarterly payment. 

For the most part, this fee will encompass all portfolio management services. For financial planning services, fees are negotiable. You’ll be charged based on the complexity of your financial situation and what services you request. Advisors may not charge the same fees across Per Stirling. That means, you may want to discuss your needs with several advisors prior to entering a financial planning agreement.  

In some cases, however, an hourly or fixed fee will be charged for certain services beyond the normal scope. Your advisor will let you know before beginning a service that might entail extra fees. 

If you opt for a separately managed account, one of Per Stirling’s signature portfolios, you’ll pay an additional 0.5% management fee on top of whatever fee you’ve agreed on with your advisor. 

In addition to management fees, you’re responsible for any fees incurred through buying or selling assets. In other words, all brokerage charges are passed to your account.  

What Types of Clients Does Per Stirling Accept?  

Per Stirling mainly provides services to individuals, trusts and estates. Accounts are managed on a discretionary basis, meaning your portfolio is managed for you. 

Aside from its core clients, Per Stirling serves banks, thrift institutions, investment companies, pension and profit sharing plans, trusts, charitable organizations and corporations or other business entities.  

Where Is Per Stirling Located? 

Per Stirling has two offices in the Austin area. One is located on the west side of town off of Bee Cave Road. The second office is in north Austin in the Spicewood office park. All staff is based in Austin.

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