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Principal Financial Group Review

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Principal Securities, Inc.

A subsidiary of Principal Financial Group, Principal Securities, Inc. is a large financial advisor firm with $6.1 billion in assets under management (AUM) and 1,600 financial advisors on staff. Although it primarily acts as a broker-dealer, it offers investment advice to individual and institutional clients. Customers that do not receive this advice are not considered advisory clients.

Principal Securities is a fee-based firm. This means that on top of receiving client-paid fees, the firm receives commissions from the sale of insurance and securities. This model is markedly different from that of a fee-only firm, which only earns compensation from the advisory fees that clients pay.

Principal Securities Background

Principal Securities is part of the Principal Financial Group family of companies. It began operations in 1968 as a financial planning and advisory arm of Principal Financial Group. Today, the firm is technically a subsidiary of Principal Financial Services, Inc., which is in turn a subsidiary of Principal Financial Group. Principal Securities is led by CEO, president and chairman Dan Houston.

The firm employs around 1,600 advisors that hold a wide variety of certifications, such as chartered financial analyst (CFA), certified investment management analyst (CIMA), certified financial planner (CFP), accredited investment fiduciary (AIF) and more.

What Types of Clients Does Principal Securities Accept?

Principal Securities works primarily with individual clients, including high-net-worth individuals. It also manages accounts for pension plans, profit-sharing plans, charities and corporations. However, more than 96% of the firm's clients are individuals without a high net worth.

Principal Securities Minimum Account Size

The minimum account size for clients at Principal Securities varies by account type. The firm's two main programs, the Principal Managed Portfolio program and the Principal Managed Account program, do not have specific minimums, though. The rest of the available services at Principal come with minimums that range from $25,000 up to $5 million.

Services Offered by Principal Securities

Principal Securities mainly provides portfolio and investment management programs to its clients through its Managed Portfolio, Managed Account and Advisory Select Portfolios programs. Here's a breakdown of each:

  • Managed Portfolio: This features discretionary accounts that allocate assets using various mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
  • Managed Account: This offers investment advice to sponsors of self-directed defined contribution plans.
  • Advisory Select Portfolios: These typically non-discretionary accounts are administered on a wrap fee basis and helps clients develop and maintain a strategic investment strategy.

The firm provides financial planning and consulting services on an "as needed" basis depending on the client's individual needs. Retirement plan consulting services are available as well.

Principal Securities also offers programs sponsored by unaffiliated advisors. These advisor firms include Brinker Capital, Inc.; Symmetry Partners, LLC; Lindner Capital Advisors, Inc.; The Standard; SEI Investment Management; Manning and Napier; AssetMark; and Morningstar Investment Services, Inc.

Principal Securities Investment Philosophy

Principal Securities adheres to a different approach for each of its advisory programs. The Managed Portfolio program utilizes a valuation-driven strategy. According to the firm's Form ADV, this style takes into account the following factors:

  • Markets are inefficient over the short to medium-term
  • Mean reversion strongly influences capital markets over the long term
  • Reward for risk varies and is closely linked to valuation
  • Investor sentiment drives markets to extremes
  • Drawdown is the preferred measure of risk
  • Positive skewed risk reward opportunities improve risk-adjusted returns

The Managed Account program uses a more quantitative approach to drive results, using software and research to make calculated investment decisions. The Advisory Select Portfolios program primarily takes into account each client's risk tolerance, time horizon and objectives so that the firm can reccomend a specfic strategy. These may utilize several different asset classes, as well as long and short positions.

Fees Under Principal Securities

Principal Securities charges an annual fee based upon each client's AUM. These fees vary by program and account type, though they are all charged on a quarterly basis, in advance.

Principal Managed Portfolio Program
Portfolio Value Annual Fee
Up to $250K Up to 2.00%
$250K to $500K Up to 1.75%
$500K to $1MM Up to 1.50%
$1MM and above Up to 1.25%


Principal Managed Account Program
Account Value Annual Fee
First $50K 0.50%
Next $25K 0.40%
Next $25K 0.30%
Above $100K 0.20%


Principal Advisory Select Program
Portfolio Value Annual Fee
Up to $250K Up to 2.00%
$250K to $500K Up to 1.75%
$500K to $1MM Up to 1.50%
$1MM to $3MM Up to 1.25%
Above $3MM Up to 1.00%

Fixed fees for financial planning services will not surpass $5,000. Executive planning services charge a fixed fee of between $250 and $5,000 annually. Non-qualified deferred compensation plan consulting generally involves a fixed-rate fee of $7,500. Retirement plan consulting services charge an annual fee of no more than 1.00% of the plan's assets.

What to Watch Out For

Principal Securities is a fee-based financial advisor firm, so it receives commissions for the sale of certain insurance and financial products. This creates the potential for a conflict of interest. However, the firm is bound by fiduciary duty and is legally obligated to act with each client's best interest in mind at all times.


Principal has several disclosures listed on its Form ADV. These stem from violations like inadequate email program monitoring, failure to create a system of oversight to ensure its advisors are registered in various clients' states of residence, failure to identify and apply certain mutual fund sales charge waivers and more. The majority of these disclosures resulted in fines and censures from various regulatory authorities.

Opening an Account With Principal Securities

If you're interested in opening an account with Principal Securities, you can go online to the firm's website and submit a form. You can also call (800) 986-3343. 

Where Is Principal Securities Located?

Principal Securities is headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa at 655 9th Street. The firm has many other locations around the U.S. and the world, though.

Tips for Financial Planning

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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 the cost of living in retirement for that location.

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

Methodology To determine how long a $1 million nest egg would cover retirement costs in cities across America, we analyzed data on average expenditures for seniors, cost of living and investment returns.

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%. This reflects the typical return on a conservative investment portfolio. 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