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. Through extensive research, 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. If you’re still struggling to make a choice, SmartAsset’s financial advisor pairing tool can match you up with advisors near you.
|Rank||Financial Advisor||Assets Managed||Minimum Assets||Financial Services||More Information|
Dowling & Yahnke, LLCFind an Advisor
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Pure Financial Advisors, Inc.Find an Advisor
No set account minimum
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No set account minimum
Private Asset Management, Inc.Find an Advisor
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HoyleCohen, LLCFind an Advisor
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Delphi Private Advisors, LLCFind an Advisor
Minimum annual fee of $10,000
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Minimum annual fee of $10,000
Telos Capital Management, Inc.Find an Advisor
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Ken Stern & Associates, Inc.Find an Advisor
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Clelland & Company, Inc.Find an Advisor
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Creative Capital Management Investments LLCFind an Advisor
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Rowling & AssociatesFind an Advisor
No set account minimum
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No set account minimum
How We Found the Top Financial Advisor Firms in San Diego, California
We only considered San Diego firms that are registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for this list, as these firms have a fiduciary duty to act in their clients' best interests. To further narrow our list, we eliminated any firms that did not have clean records, did not manage individual accounts or did not have financial planners on staff. We then ranked the remaining firms according to assets under management (AUM), from highest AUM to lowest.
Dowling & Yahnke, LLC
Dowling & Yahnke, LLC ranks first on the list because it has by far the most assets under management (AUM). The fee-only firm manages $3.57 billion, which is more than twice the AUM of the second-ranking firm on this list, Pure Financial Advisors Inc.
The firm’s staff boasts an impressive array of certifications. There are 15 certified financial planners (CFPs), nine chartered financial analysts (CFAs), one investment advisor certified compliance professional (IACCP), two certified public accountants (CPAs), one certified private wealth advisor (CPWA), one chartered financial consultant (ChFC), one certified divorce financial analyst (CDFA) and one chartered life underwriter (CLU).
To be a client, you'll need at least $1 million. Only one other firm on this list, Clelland & Company Inc., has an account minimum this high. As such, it’s unsurprising that the firm primarily serves high-net-worth individuals.
In 2017, Dowling & Yahnke was ranked No. 25 on Barron's list of the year's top 100 independent financial advisors. That was the 11th consecutive year that the firm made Barron's list.
Dowling & Yahnke, LLC Background
Dowling & Yahnke, LLC was founded in 1991, just two years after the oldest firm on this list, Clelland & Company Inc. 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 portfolio manager and partner Paul Temby.
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, LLC Investment Philosophy
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, Inc.
Pure Financial Advisors, Inc. ranks second in terms of assets under management, but it has the most advisors of any firm on this list, with 19 advisors on staff. The firm’s team isn’t just the biggest - it’s also highly certified. Pure Financial Advisor has an impressive 25 certified financial planners (CFPs), the most of any firm on this list. In addition, two staff members hold certifications related to retirement planning, with one chartered retirement plans specialist (CRPS) and one chartered retirement planning counselor (CRPC). On top of those certifications, there are 17 accredited investment fiduciaries (AIFs), three chartered financial analysts (CFAs), two certified public accountants (CPAs), two chartered life underwriters (CLUs), one certified IRA services professional (CISP), one accredited estate planner (AEP) and one registered financial consultant (RFC).
Pure Financial Advisors does not require a set account minimum. The firm says that it serves mid- to high-net-worth individuals.
Pure Financial Advisors, Inc. Background
Pure Financial Advisors, Inc. was formed in 2007. The firm's principal shareholder is its founder and CEO, Michael Fenison.
Pure Financial Advisors has a unique policy in place regarding employee certifications, which is likely why so many of its employees boast at least one certification. Pure Financial Advisors requires all of its financial planners to be - at a minimum - a CFP, CPA or CFA with at least five years of financial planning experience. Every member of the firm is required to become an AIF within a year of being hired.
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, Inc. Portfolios
As mentioned above, Pure Financial Advisors, Inc. 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.
Private Asset Management, Inc.
Of all the firms on this list that have set account minimums, Private Asset Management, Inc.'s is the lowest: To be a client of the firm, you'll need just $100,000.
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 just one certified financial planner (CFP) 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. Private Asset Management is a fee-only firm, a notable distinction to consider when figuring out how to choose a financial advisor.
Private Asset Management, Inc. Background
Private Asset Management, Inc. 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, Inc. Investment Style
Private Asset Management, Inc. 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.
HoyleCohen, LLC 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 $500,000 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 15 certified financial planners (CFPs), which ties it with Dowling & Yahnke, LLC for the second-most CFPs of any firm on this list. In addition. HoyleCohen has two chartered financial analysts (CFAs), one chartered alternative investment analyst (CAIA) and one certified investment management analyst (CIMA).
HoyleCohen is a fee-based firm, as it may offer insurance services to its clients through HC Insurance Services, LLC. The firm may receive compensation for these sales, but that compensation is separate from firm's compensation for its advisory services. Moreover, because HoyleCohen is a fiduciary, it's bound to act in its clients' best interests.
The firm was ranked among 2017's top 300 registered investment advisors by Financial Times.
HoyleCohen, LLC Background
HoyleCohen, LLC 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 and strongly believes that "one size doesn't fit all." 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, LLC CorePlus Investing
HoyleCohen, LLC 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.
Delphi Private Advisors, LLC
Delphi Private Advisors, LLC requires a minimum annual fee of $10,000. However, Delphi does not state a set account minimum. This fee-only firm serves a mix of high-net-worth and non-high-net-worth clients, with a focus on families.
In comparison to many of the other firms on this list, Delphi’s staff does not have a wide range of certifications. Its team, which includes seven advisors, has just two certified financial planners (CFPs).
Delphi Private Advisors, LLC Background
Delphi Private Advisors, LLC was founded in 2009. The firm's founders, Keith McKenzie and Darren Reinig, who previously worked at a large New York-based money manager, envisioned creating a firm that made institutional wealth management accessible to families and individuals, without sacrificing personalized service. McKenzie and Reinig, Delphi’s founding partners, are equal owners of the firm.
Delphi offers investment advisory, financial planning and consulting services. Clients may purchase these services separately or through a wrap fee program. In addition, Delphi provides 401(k) advisory planning services to 401(k) plan sponsors.
Delphi Private Advisors, LLC Investing Process
Delphi Private Advisors, LLC says that it emphasizes tax efficiency and risk-adjusted returns in its portfolios. The first step in creating these portfolios is an assessment, in which the firm will learn about a client's financial situation. After that is the planning phase, during which the client and the firm work together to determine the client's goals, which will in turn inform his or her customized investment strategy. After that comes portfolio construction.
The firm's primary focus when building portfolios is on asset allocation. Delphi believes that long-term returns are much more influenced by the combination of asset classes than by specific securities. The firm says that it mixes asset classes that "do not move in the same direction at the same time."
Once the portfolio is built, Delphi systematically rebalances it. The firm will also collaborate with its clients' other advisors to ensure their banking, legal, insurance and tax advisors are on the same page.
Telos Capital Management, Inc.
Telos Capital Management, Inc. is one of two firms on this list, alongside Pure Financial Advisors. Inc., that primarily serves individuals, rather than high-net-worth individuals. That’s unsurprising, considering this fee-only firm has the lowest set account minimum on this list: to be a client, you’ll need just $250,000.
For a firm with just five advisors, Telos Capital Management’s team has a decent spread of certifications. There are four certified financial planners (CFPs), four chartered financial analysts (CFAs), one accredited investment fiduciary (AIF) and one investment advisor certified compliance professional (IACCP).
Telos Capital Management, Inc. Background
Telos Capital Management, Inc. was originally founded back in 2003 as A&M Investment Management. The firm changed its name to its current name in 2009. Telos Capital Management is primarily owned by Stefan Meierhofer, the firm's founder, president, CEO and chief investment officer. Jonathan Fairchild, Telos' executive vice president, director of financial consulting and business development principal, holds a minority interest 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, Inc. Investing
Telos Capital Management, Inc. 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.
Ken Stern & Associates, Inc.
To be a client of Ken Stern & Associates, Inc., you’ll need at least $500,000. The firm serves both individuals and high-net-worth individuals. Uniquely, the firm offers two money management services: one that caters to the self-directed investor and another that offers a full suite of advisory and planning services.
Ken Stern & Associates has one certified financial planner (CFP) and one chartered financial analyst (CFA) on its staff that includes nine advisors.
Ken Stern & Associates is a fee-based firm. The firm's CEO and managing member, Ken Stern, as well as wealth management director, Jeff Christie, are also representatives of the securities broker-dealer Investment Security Corp. Several of the firm's employees are also licensed insurance agents. Though they may financially benefit from these affiliations, the firm’s employees are bound by fiduciary duty to put their clients' best interests first.
Ken Stern & Associates, Inc. Background
Ken Stern & Associates was created in 1998. The firm's principal owner is APS Holdings, Inc. The firm's CEO and managing director, Kenneth Stern, is the majority shareholder of APS Holdings.
Ken Stern & Associates' advisory services include financial planning and investment management. The firm's financial planning services include an emphasis on retirement planning as well as estate planning, tax planning, cash flow analysis and insurance options analysis.
Ken Stern & Associates, Inc. Wealth Management Platforms
As previously mentioned, Ken Stern & Associates offers two platforms for wealth management: KSA Active and KSA Private Wealth Management. The firm describes the former as an "a la carte investment service" that allows investors to choose only the services that they need and then build a portfolio and financial plan using the firm's strategies, team and technology.
The latter, KSA Private Wealth Management, is more similar to the comprehensive wealth management services typically offered by firms. In this option, a personal financial advisor will create and monitor your financial plan and portfolio based on discussions about your financial goals and estate and tax plans. The firm will also collaborate with your other advisors.
Ken Stern & Associates typically structures portfolios with an emphasis on diversification. Its portfolios typically consist of equity securities, exchange-traded funds, bonds, mutual funds, options and other permitted securities.
Clelland & Company, Inc.
Founded in 1989, Clelland & Company, Inc. is the oldest firm on this list. Though the firm has nearly three decades of investment management experience, it’s the only firm on this list that does not have any certified financial planners (CFPs) on staff. It does have one chartered financial analyst (CFA) and one certified private wealth advisor (CPWA).
Clelland & Company is tied with Dowling & Yahnke, LLC for the highest set account minimum on this list. You’ll need at least $1 million to be a client of this fee-only San Diego firm.
Clelland & Company Inc. 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 its president, Robert Clelland, and its 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 Inc. 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.
Creative Capital Management Investments LLC
Established in 2016, Creative Capital Management Investments LLC (CCMI) is technically the newest firm on this list. However, many of the firm's client relationships are carried over from its predecessor firm, Creative Capital Management, Inc., which was founded 1980.
CCMI is also the smallest firm on this list, as it has just two advisors on staff. Despite its small size, CCMI’s team boasts four certified financial planners and one certified public accountant (CPA).
To be a client, you’ll need at least $500,000. The fee-only firm serves business owners, professionals, individuals and families.
Creative Capital Management Investments LLC Background
Creative Capital Management Investments LLC is owned in equal parts by JAMES Family Holdings and M. Ohana Holdings, which are owned by Matt Showley and Brian Matter, respectively. Both Showley and Matter are principals at CCMI.
CCMI says that it specializes in "highly personalized and proactive" financial planning and investment management services. More specifically, the firm's financial planning services include cash flow planning, estate planning, retirement planning, income tax planning, educational funding, debt management, household budgeting, home affordability and more. For business owners, CCMI offers advice on liquidity events, succession planning, family meeting facilitation and business consulting.
Creative Capital Management Investments LLC Investment Management Process
CCMI's investment management process is a comprehensive nine steps long. The first steps are to identify investment goals and to determine risk tolerance and time horizon. Based off of that information, the firm drafts a written investment policy statement, which guides portfolio creation.
After the investment policy statement is written up, CCMI establishes a client's accounts and allocates his or her investments. From there, CCMI provides quarterly investment reports and an annual portfolio review and reoptimization. The firm also continues to monitor the portfolio and provide tax planning data.
The firm operates under the beliefs that the markets are efficient, structure determines performance and risk and return are related. CCMI emphasizes diversification and it strives to minimize costs and taxes. Though Creative Capital tailors its strategies according to clients' individual objectives, its primary investment strategies are long-term purchases with a buy and hold philosophy and period rebalancing, as well as short-term purchases.
Rowling & Associates
Rowling & Associates, the smallest firm on our list in terms of assets under management (AUM), manages $282.27 million in assets. The fee-only firm specializes in tax planning services, and its financial planning services are focused on getting retirement ready.
Rowling & Associates primarily serves high-net-worth individuals. However, the firm does not have a set account minimum. The firm’s staff includes two certified financial planners (CFPs). As a testament to its tax expertise, it also has two 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 the second-most recently formed firm on this list, after Creative Capital Management Investments LLC. The firm is owned and managed by Sheryl Rowling, a principal at the firm who is a CFP/PFS.
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 Philosophy
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.