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.
|Rank||Financial Advisor||Assets Managed||Minimum Assets||Financial Services||More Information|
|1||GuidedChoice Asset Management, Inc. Find an Advisor||$11,910,338,194||No set account minimum|| || |
Minimum AssetsNo set account minimum
|2||Dowling & Yahnke, LLC Find an Advisor||$4,730,371,019||Varies based on account type|| || |
Minimum AssetsVaries based on account type
|3||Pure Financial Advisors, Inc. Find an Advisor||$2,266,649,850||No set account minimum|| || |
Minimum AssetsNo set account minimum
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|4||HoyleCohen, LLC Find an Advisor||$1,936,470,498||$500,000|| || |
|5||Dunham & Associates Investment Counsel, Inc. Find an Advisor||$1,796,507,494||Varies based on account type|| || |
Minimum AssetsVaries based on account type
|6||Private Asset Management, Inc. Find an Advisor||$816,090,371||$100,000|| || |
|7||Telos Capital Management, Inc. Find an Advisor||$776,894,754||$250,000|| || |
|8||Financial Sense Advisors, Inc. Find an Advisor||$497,739,659||Varies based on account type|| || |
Minimum AssetsVaries based on account type
|9||Epstein and White Financial, LLC Find an Advisor||$475,577,302||$10,000|| || |
|10||Rowling & Associates Find an Advisor||$418,943,694||No set account minimum|| || |
Minimum AssetsNo 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.
All information is accurate as of the writing of this article.
GuidedChoice Asset Management, Inc.
Coming in at the top of our list is GuidedChoice Asset Management, Inc. The firm also claims the third spot on our rundown of the top financial advisors in the state of California. The firm's team manages billions in client assets, with most of that sum belonging to individuals. The firm is also known to work with pension plans, profit-sharing plans and retirement plans.
There's one chartered financial analyst (CFA) employed at this fee-only firm. Advisors do not earn commissions and fees tend to be based on assets under management.
GuidedChoice Asset Management, Inc. Background
GuidedChoice Asset Management was established in 1999 by founder Sherrie E. Grabot. Grabot currently serves as the firm's CEO. In terms of ownership, the firm is a wholly owned subsidiary of GuidedChoice.com, Inc., a financial services company that develops various software programs to help with retirement plan management and retirement income planning.
GuidedChoice is an investment-centric firm, and its services reflect that. In fact, the services it offers are especially beneficial for 401(k) account holders. To help you manage your investment portfolio, the firm will put together an asset allocation that's tuned for your goals, while also monitoring your assets on a regular basis.
GuidedChoice Asset Management, Inc. Investment Strategy
Before making an investment decisions on your behalf, GuidedChoice Asset Management will do a deep dive into your personal risk tolerance, liquidity needs, time horizon and eventual retirement goals. Only then will its advisors feel comfortable giving investments recommendations that can help you reach your objectives.
Dowling & Yahnke, LLC
Dowling & Yahnke, LLC has the second-most assets under management (AUM) on this list. The fee-only firm manages more than twice the AUM of the third-ranking firm on this list, Pure Financial Advisors Inc.
The firm’s staff boasts an impressive array of certifications. There are 17 certified financial planners (CFPs), 12 chartered financial analysts (CFAs), two certified public accountants (CPAs), two certified divorce financial analysts (CDFAs), one chartered financial consultant (ChFC) 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. It also provides advisory services to trusts, estates, corporate pension and profit sharing plans, individual retirement plans, charitable organizations, foundations, endowments and other entities
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 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, Inc.
Pure Financial Advisors, Inc. ranks third 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, Inc. Background
Pure Financial Advisors, Inc. was formed in 2007. The firm's principal shareholder is its founder and CEO, Michael Fenison. In addition to its main office in San Diego, the firm has offices in the Golden State in Irvine, Sherman Oaks 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, Inc. Investment Strategy
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.
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). 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 Investment Strategy
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.
Dunham & Associates Investment Counsel, Inc.
Dunham & Associates Investment Counsel, Inc. is a privately-held investment firm serving close to 7,000 individuals, high-net-worth individuals, registered investment companies, wrap program investors, pooled investment vehicles, pension and profit sharing plans, charitable organizations and corporations. Its minimum account size requirement varies based on account type.
The fee-based firm charges asset-based fees, fixed fees and performance-based fees for its advisory services. But certain advisors may earn commissions from investment products, leading to a conflict of interest if they favor such products over a client’s best interests. However, the firm says it honors a fiduciary relationship with each client.
Dunham & Associates’ team includes a certified public accountant (CPA) and a certified exit planning advisor (CEPA).
Dunham & Associates Investment Counsel, Inc. Background
Founded in 1985 by firm chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) Jeffrey Dunham, Dunham & Associates functions as both an investment advisor and a broker-dealer. The firm offers portfolio management, financial planning, selection of other advisors and asset allocation services.
Dunham & Associates is a subsidiary of Dunham & Associates Holdings, Inc., which in turn owns Dunham Trust Company.
Dunham & Associates Investment Counsel, Inc. Investment Strategy
Dunham relies on diversification through asset allocation when implementing its investment strategies. The firm says its asset allocation process aims to optimize returns by allocating funds among different asset classes, according to its firm brochure.
Dunham’s investment process relies upon analysis of global, fundamental macroeconomic data and asset-class risk frontier research.
Private Asset Management, Inc.
Private Asset Management, Inc. has the second-lowest account minimum requirement on our ranking. 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 two certified financial planners (CFPs) on staff, in addition to two chartered financial analysts (CFAs), two certified public accountants (CPAs) 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. One of the firm's employees earns compesation for preparing tax returns for clients, and another employee earns a separate fee from providing fiduciary services through acting as a trustee or paying bills for clients. The firm is a fiduciary, requiring it to always act in clients' best interests.
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 Strategy
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.
Telos Capital Management, Inc.
Telos Capital Management, Inc. primarily provides advisory services to individuals, though it also serves a number of high-net-worth investors. 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 a smaller staff of 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. Investment Strategy
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.
Financial Sense Advisors, Inc.
Fee-based firm Financial Sense Advisors, Inc. serves nearly 1,000 non-high-net-worth individuals, individuals, pension and profit sharing plans, trusts, estates, charitable organizations, corporations and other business entities.
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 conflict of interest, but advisors still must act in the bet interest of the client.
Some of the qualifications among the firm’s team includes the certified financial planner (CFP), chartered retirement planning counselor (CRPC), chartered market technician (CMT) and certified tax specialist (CTS) designations.
Financial Sense Advisors, Inc. Background
Financial Sense 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.
Financial Sense Advisors, Inc. Investment Strategy
Financial Sense’s 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.
Financial sense also applies the following strategies and objectives: fixed income, conservative, balanced, growth with income, growth, income and tactical.
Epstein and White Financial, LLC
Epstein and White Financial, LLC is a fee-only firm providing various advisory services to individual and institutional clients. The firm only requires prospective clients to have $10,000 before establishing an advisory relationship, and it primarily charges asset-based fees and fixed fees for its advisory services.
Epstein and White serves individuals, high-net-worth individuals, pension and profit sharing plans and small businesses.
Epstein and White Financial, LLC 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/workshops.
The firm was founded in 2015.
Epstein and White Financial, LLC 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.
Rowling & Associates
Rowling & Associates is the smallest firm 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. This is a potential conflict of interest because clients pay a separate fee for each service. However, the firm is bound by fiduciary duty.
Rowling & Associates primarily serves individuals and high-net-worth individuals. It 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 one of the younger firms on this list. 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 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.