Finding a Top Financial Advisor Firm in San Diego, California
SmartAsset knows that choosing a financial advisor isn’t easy, so we compiled this list of the top San Diego financial advisor firms to make the search process a little easier. We ranked the top 10 firms according to assets under management and then laid out the firms’ fees, investment strategies and more in tables and in reviews.
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|Rank||Financial Advisor||Assets Managed||Minimum Assets||Financial Services||More Information|
|1||Dowling & Yahnke, LLC Find an Advisor||$5,699,173,134||$1,000,000|| || |
|2||Pure Financial Advisors, Inc. Find an Advisor||$3,291,653,194||No set account minimum|| || |
Minimum AssetsNo set account minimum
|3||HoyleCohen, LLC Find an Advisor||$2,741,661,143||$1,000,000|| || |
|4||Telos Capital Management, Inc. Find an Advisor||$1,017,493,974||$250,000|| || |
|5||Private Asset Management, Inc. Find an Advisor||$880,782,665||$100,000|| || |
|6||Financial Sense Advisors, Inc. Find an Advisor||$561,847,898||Varies based on account type|| || |
Minimum AssetsVaries based on account type
|7||Epstein and White Financial, LLC Find an Advisor||$583,255,016||$10,000|| || |
|8||Clelland & Company, Inc. Find an Advisor||$380,000,599||$1,000,000|| || |
|9||The Retirement Group, LLC Find an Advisor||$385,946,155||Varies based on account type|| || |
Minimum AssetsVaries based on account type
|10||Rowling & Associates, LLC Find an Advisor||$528,514,182||No set account minimum|| || |
Minimum AssetsNo set account minimum
What We Use in Our Methodology
To find the top financial advisors in San Diego, we first identified all firms registered with the SEC in the city. Next, we filtered out firms that don't offer financial planning services, those that don't serve primarily individual clients and those that have disclosures on their record. The qualifying firms were then ranked according to the following criteria:
- AUMFirms with more total assets under management are ranked higher.
- Individual Client CountFirms who serve more individual clients (as opposed to institutional clients) are ranked higher.
- Clients Per AdvisorFirms with a lower ratio of clients per financial advisor are ranked higher.
- Age of FirmFirms that have been in business longer are ranked higher.
All information is accurate as of the writing of this article. This list may include firms that have a business relationship with SmartAsset, in which SmartAsset is compensated for lead referrals. Such relationships have no impact on our rankings, and firms are included and ranked based strictly on the above criteria.
Dowling & Yahnke
Dowling & Yahnke has the most assets under management (AUM) on this list. The fee-only firm manages nearly twice the assets of the second-ranking firm on this list, Pure Financial Advisors.
The firm’s staff boasts an impressive array of certifications. There are certified financial planners (CFPs), chartered financial analysts (CFAs), certified public accountants (CPAs), certified divorce financial analysts (CDFAs), chartered financial consultants (ChFCs) and chartered life underwriters (CLUs).
To be a client, you'll need at least $1 million. As such, it’s unsurprising that the firm primarily serves high-net-worth individuals. It also provides advisory services to trusts, estates, corporate pension and profit-sharing plans, individual retirement plans, charitable organizations, foundations, endowments and businesses.
Dowling & Yahnke Background
Dowling & Yahnke was founded in 1991. The independent firm is completely owned by Dowling and Yahnke, Inc., whose shareholders include the firm's founding partner and CEO Dale Yahnke; partner, CIO and president William Beamer; COO and partner Mark Muñoz; portfolio manager and partner Alana Asmussen; portfolio manager and partner Michael Brown; and lead advisors Mark Wernig, Gregory Richardson, Brett Pernicano and Anna Diaz.
The firm provides comprehensive portfolio management, financial planning, executive equity and compensation planning, Social Security and Medicare planning, education planning, retirement planning and charitable giving.
Dowling & Yahnke Investment Strategy
Dowling & Yahnke's investment philosophy is largely based on modern portfolio theory. This theory, centered on the belief that the markets are efficient though not always rational, emphasizes the importance of long-term investing, diversification, asset allocation and cost minimization.
The firm's investment process begins with an initial discovery phase, which leads to the formulation of a customized investment policy. This policy, which specifies clients' asset allocation targets, risk and return profile, income requirements, tax considerations and any constraints, serves as the roadmap for reaching clients' goals. Only once the firm and the client mutually agree on the plan is it implemented. Dowling & Yahnke focuses on determining the proper mix of taxable and tax-deferred accounts to optimize after-tax return rates. This ensures that hefty taxes don't cut into your investment growth over time.
Pure Financial Advisors
Pure Financial Advisors ranks second in terms of assets under management, but it has the most advisors of any firm on this list. The fee-only firm’s team isn’t just the biggest - it’s also highly certified. Pure Financial Advisors requires all of its financial planners to either be a certified financial planner (CFP), certified public accountant (CPA) or chartered financial analyst (CFA) with at least five years of financial planning experience. Within their first year of joining the firm, financial planners must also become accredited investment fiduciaries (AIFs).
Pure Financial Advisors does not require a set account minimum. The firm says that it serves mid- to high-net-worth individuals, as well as pension and profit-sharing plans.
Pure Financial Advisors Background
Pure Financial Advisors was formed in 2007. The firm's principal shareholder is its founder and chairman, Michael Fenison. In addition to its main office in San Diego, the firm has offices in the Golden State in Irvine, Woodland Hills and Brea.
The firm's services include both model and individual portfolio management, pension consulting and financial planning. Its financial planning services encompass tax planning, cash flow, investments, risk management and estate planning.
Pure Financial Advisors Investment Strategy
As mentioned above, Pure Financial Advisors offers two types of portfolio management: individual and model portfolio management. As its name suggests, individual portfolio management is centered on a client's individual needs, time horizon, liquidity needs and risk tolerance, determined through the financial planning process. Pure says that this service is typically only provided for fixed income portfolios or to accommodate existing clients.
Most of Pure's clients instead use the firm's model portfolio management services. Unlike individual portfolios, these portfolios are managed based on the portfolio's goals rather than on clients' individual goals, though the firm does consider clients' unique circumstances when selecting a model portfolio. The firm has several model portfolios, which are designed to meet different risk and return profiles and which have equity exposure ranging from 0% to 100%. Typically, these portfolios are globally diversified and contain a combination of ETFs, no-load index funds and/or institutional class mutual fund shares.
HoyleCohen is a part of Focus Financial Partners, a partnership that offers support and resources to independent wealth management firms. The firm, which requires a minimum of $1 million in aggregate investments, says that it caters to high-net-worth individuals and families "in all stages of life and with varying financial concerns, challenges and complexities." Uniquely, HoyleCohen also has a women's practice, designed to serve the unique needs of financially independent women.
This San Diego firm boasts an impressive 16 certified financial planners (CFPs). In addition. HoyleCohen has three chartered financial analysts (CFAs), two chartered alternative investment analysts (CAIAs) and one certified investment management analyst (CIMA). HoyleCohen is a fee-only firm, which means all of its compensation comes from client paid fees.
HoyleCohen was founded in 2001. In 2006, HoyleCohen became part of the Focus Financial Partners network of independent firms. It's now a wholly owned subsidiary of Focus Operating, LLC, which also owns other registered investment advisors, broker-dealers, pension consultants and insurance firms.
The firm offers financial planning, investment management, risk management and wealth simplification. While financial planning may be a lesser focus for some investment management firms, HoyleCohen considers financial planning a "core capability."
The firm insists on crafting a clear plan of action for each of its clients. HoyleCohen calls its financial planning method "wealth by design," which focuses on digging into what you ultimately want to accomplish by growing your wealth. The firm uses what it calls "intelligent planning" to create a specific analysis for each client.
HoyleCohen Investment Strategy
HoyleCohen says it developed its CorePlus investing system "to deliver our clients a more stable, inflation-beating return with lower downside risk than a comparable stock/bond portfolio." The firm supplements the traditional core stock and bond portfolio, which it believes lacks "key ingredients to successful investing," with specific strategies.
These strategies include taking advantage of opportunities outside of traditional stock and bond classes, including investments in direct real estate, distressed credit and mortgage-backed securities. HoyleCohen says that it also includes built-in “cushions” that can offer even greater downside protection than traditional diversification alone would.
The firm's CorePlus program offers numerous special programs, which are designed to address at least one of three concerns: stability, protection or opportunistic growth.
Telos Capital Management
Telos Capital Management primarily provides advisory services to individuals, though it also serves a number of high-net-worth investors. This fee-only firm has a set account minimum of $250,000.
For a firm with a smaller staff of advisors, Telos Capital Management’s team has a decent spread of certifications. There are four certified financial planners (CFPs), five chartered financial analysts (CFAs) and one accredited investment fiduciary (AIF).
Telos Capital Management Background
The firm was founded in 1986 as Alexander & Muckermann. Its name was changed in 2003 to A&M Investment Management, and in 2009 it became Telos Capital Management, which is primarily owned by Stefan Meierhofer, the firm's founder, president and CEO. Jonathan Fairchild, Telos' executive vice president, and Andrew Weld, chief investment officer (CIO), each hold minority interests in the firm.
The firm's name, Telos, is derived from the Greek word meaning "ultimate purpose" or "goal." The firm says that its name reflects its belief that investment success can only be achieved if investors lay out clear goals and purposes. Telos subsequently invests its clients' assets with the objective of helping them to achieve their unique goals. Telos' services include investment management and financial planning.
Telos Capital Management Investment Strategy
Telos Capital Management says that it specializes in separately managed portfolios, which it describes as highly customized and tax efficient. The firm focuses more so on achieving long-term results, rather than on quarterly performance. Its investment philosophy is grounded in careful stock selection, diversification and proper asset allocation.
The firm offers two main investment management programs:
- TCM Legacy Portfolios: These portfolios strive to achieve long-term capital appreciation and preservation. The methodology for these portfolios, which invest in companies with long-term, fundamental investment value, is based on value and growth investing.
- Sherman Core Portfolios: Telos' Sherman Core Portfolios uses three different types of investments, which are combined according to a client's investment objectives. The firm's individual equities portfolio, for instance, uses individual stocks, closed-end mutual funds and ETFs.
Within each of those portfolio types, there are numerous different portfolio styles to choose from.
Private Asset Management
Private Asset Management has one of the lower account minimum requirements on our list. To be a client of the firm, you'll need just $100,000 in investable assets.
Though the staff at Private Asset Management does have a decent number of certifications, it does not have as many as other firms on this list that are comparable in size. Private Asset Management has three certified financial planners (CFPs) on staff, in addition to two chartered financial analysts (CFAs), one certified public accountant (CPA) and one certificate in investment performance measurement (CIPM) holder.
Notably, the firm only provides financial planning through one of its employees. This is a fee-based firm, as one of the its employees earns compesation for preparing tax returns for clients. The firm is a fiduciary, requiring it to always act in clients' best interests.
Private Asset Management Background
Private Asset Management was founded in 1993 by Stephen Cohen. After Cohen's death in 2016, ownership of the firm was transferred to The Stephen J. Cohen Trust, which also serves as the management committee for the firm's day-to-day operations. Several of the firm's employees, including its current president and CEO, Jonathan Elsberry, are the co-trustees and members of the management committee.
The firm offers four main categories of services: asset management, fiduciary trustee services, bill pay services and tax services.
Private Asset Management Investment Strategy
Private Asset Management creates customized portfolios for its clients based on their financial needs. Its portfolio options include equity/growth, either taxable or tax-free income or balanced with a blend of equity and income. The firm takes a long-term approach to growth and aims to minimize volatility and trading.
Though each account is individually managed, Private Asset Management said that most of its accounts contain similar securities. The firm primarily invests its clients' assets in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, federal and state government obligations, exchange-traded funds, options and ADRs. The firm has a team of in-house research analysts and portfolio managers who are responsible for making investment decisions.
Financial Sense Advisors
Fee-based firm Financial Sense Advisors serves nearly 1,000 non-high-net-worth individuals, individuals, pension and profit-sharing plans, trusts, estates, charitable organizations and corporations. Some of the qualifications among the firm’s team includes certified financial planner (CFP), chartered retirement planning counselor (CRPC), chartered market technician (CMT), certified tax specialist (CTS) designations and more.
When it comes to advisory fees, the firm charges asset-based fees, hourly charges, fixed fees and commissions. The firm’s account minimum varies based on account type. Advisors earning commissions is a potential conflict of interest, but advisors still must act in the best interest of the client due to their fiduciary duty.
Financial Sense Advisors Background
Financial Sense Advisors began its operations in 1985. James J. Puplava is the firm’s president and founder, and Ryan J. Puplava is the firm’s chief executive officer (CEO).
This firm mainly offers portfolio management and financial planning services. The latter can cover retirement planning, estate planning, tax planning, college fund planning and more.
Financial Sense Advisors Investment Strategy
Financial Sense Advisors' primary securities analysis methods are fundamental analysis and technical analysis. The firm’s investment strategies are long-term purchases, short-term purchases, margin transactions and option writing.
The firm also applies the following strategies and objectives: fixed-income, conservative, balanced, growth with income, growth, income and tactical.
Epstein and White Financial
Epstein and White Financial is a firm that provides various advisory services to almost entirely individual clients. More specifically, Epstein and White serves individuals, high-net-worth individuals and pension and profit-sharing plans.
The firm only requires prospective clients to have $10,000 before establishing an advisory relationship. It primarily charges asset-based fees and fixed fees for its services.
Certain advisors at this firm can sell insurance products on a commission basis. Despite the potential conflict of interest this creates, the firm's advisors are required to act in clients' best interests.
Epstein and White Financial Background
Solely owned by Bradley R. White Financial and Insurance Services, Inc., Epstein and White provides portfolio management, financial planning, selection of other advisors and educational seminars. The firm was founded in 2015.
Epstein and White Financial Investment Strategy
Epstein and White says its general strategy is to reduce risk and volatility by building diversified portfolios. In implementing this strategy, the firm employs fundamental analysis and top-down and bottom-up economic cycle analysis.
The firm utilizes mutual funds, exchange traded funds (ETFs), stocks, bonds, private real estate, private equity, private credit, margin, options and separately managed structures.
Clelland & Company
Founded in 1989, Clelland & Company is one of the oldest firms on this list. The fee-only firm has over three decades of investment management experience, and it employs one chartered financial analyst (CFA), one certified private wealth advisor (CPWA) and one certified investment management analyst (CIMA).
At $1 million, Clelland & Company has quite a high minimum investment requirement. The firm's client base is divided between individuals with and without a high net worth, retirement plans, charities, businesses and benefit plans.
Clelland & Company Background
Clelland & Company, which has been providing investment advisory services since 1989, is an employee-owned firm. The firm's officers and majority shareholders are president Robert Clelland, vice president Matthew Medeiros and corporate secretary Rebecca Clelland.
Clelland & Company's investment advisory services include investment planning, portfolio evaluation, asset allocation, portfolio design, investment management, tax-sensitive investing, performance measurement and custom reporting. The firm also offers family office services, including estate planning, tax planning, trustee services, family education, insurance planning, asset protection strategies, charitable trusts and foundations and philanthropic planning.
Clelland & Company Investment Philosophy
Clelland & Company says that it strives to seek long-term, risk-adjusted returns, based on each client's risk profile and time horizon. The firm utilizes both asset allocation and style diversification, and it uses investment managers from a broad range of firms. It primarily invests its clients' assets in stock and bond mutual funds.
Clelland & Company will collaborate with its clients' other advisors, accounts and attorneys to become an integrated part of their wealth advisory teams.
The Retirement Group
The Retirement Group employs a fairly large number of financial advisors who work with its client base. These clients include almost entirely individuals without a high net worth, though the firm also has a few high-net-worth clients. Account minimums at the firm can range up to $50,000, depending on the program you subscribe to.
As its name suggests, The Retirement Group typically works with people who are nearing retirement and have worked at large companies. Beyond its advisory services, the firm does in-person seminars to teach retirement planning.
Certain on-staff advisors can receive commissions from the sale of securities or insurance products to clients. Despite the potential conflict of interest this creates, the firm's fiduciary duty requires it to act in clients' best interests at all times.
The Retirement Group Background
The Retirement Group was created back in 2008. The team includes two retirement income certified professionals (RICPs).
As we state above, this firm specializes in retirement income planning. It provides these services through financial planning, investment management, asset allocation planning, income planning, separately managed accounts and more.
The Retirement Group Investment Strategy
The Retirement Group will focus on learning about you before building a portfolio with your assets. Your advisor will speak with you about things like your long-term financial goals, proximity to retirement, risk tolerance, income needs, current investments and more. Based on this information, a personalized portfolio will be constructed for you. This could end up being either an internally or separately managed account.
Advisors at the firm tend to focus on long-term holdings rather than riskier short-term moves. The firm tends to invest in stocks, preferred stocks, ETFs, index funds, corporate bonds, CDs, mortgage-backed securities, various types of mutual funds and more.
Rowling & Associates
Rowling & Associates is one of the smallest firms on our list in terms of assets under management (AUM). The fee-only firm specializes in tax planning services, and its financial planning services are focused on getting retirement ready. The firm is also registered as a professional accounting firm, and it may recommending its accounting services to clients.
Rowling & Associates primarily serves individuals and high-net-worth individuals. It does not have a set account minimum. The firm’s staff includes three certified financial planners (CFPs). As a testament to its tax expertise, it also has three certified public accountants (CPAs) on staff, one of whom is also a personal financial specialist (PFS).
Rowling & Associates Background
Founded in 2012, Rowling & Associates is one of the younger firms on this list. The firm is owned and managed by director of tax services Tara Weisinger, director of operations Juan Aguilar and director of wealth management Lorenzo Sanchez.
The firm offers an array of services. Its investment management services, which are tailored to clients' unique goals, include sustainable investing. The firm's financial planning services encompass retirement planning, college funding, estate planning, life insurance needs and free financial workshops. Meanwhile, its tax planning services include income tax planning, charitable planning, tax preparation services and tax strategies for stock options.
Rowling & Associates Investment Strategy
As one might expect from a firm that specializes in tax planning, Rowling & Associates prioritizes tax efficiency when investing its clients' assets. The firm offers two levels of investment management services. With Intricity, which is recommended for young professionals, you manage your portfolio with Rowling's guidance. With Rowling's wealth management, the firm does it all for you, including advanced year-end tax planning. Rowling recommends this option for retirees and executives.
Rowling considers a client's age, risk tolerance, income tax bracket and required rate of return when crafting an investment strategy. The firm determines your portfolios performance in three ways: asset allocation, investor behavior and location optimization, which describes the firm's positioning of assets in taxable, tax-deferred and tax-free accounts.