Finding a Top Financial Advisor Firm in Seattle, Washington
It can be hard to know where to start when you’re trying to find a financial advisor. For investors in Seattle, this list of the top 10 Seattle financial firms can help narrow the field by offering an overview of some of the city’s biggest firms in terms of assets under management, selected through dozens of hours of research. If you are unsure what you are looking for in an advisor, SmartAsset’s financial advisor matching tool can help.
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Columbia Pacific Wealth ManagementFind an Advisor
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Badgley Phelps Wealth ManagersFind an Advisor
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Moss Adams Wealth Advisors LLCFind an Advisor
No set account minimum
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No set account minimum
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Merriman Wealth Management, LLCFind an Advisor
Varies by account option
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Varies by account option
Filament, LLCFind an Advisor
No set account minimum
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No set account minimum
Laird Norton Wealth ManagementFind an Advisor
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Barwick & Partners, Inc.Find an Advisor
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Empirical Wealth ManagementFind an Advisor
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Bristlecone Advisors, LLCFind an Advisor
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Greene Wealth Management, LLCFind an Advisor
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How We Found the Top Financial Advisor Firms in Seattle, Washington
This list of the top 10 financial advisor firms in Seattle considers all U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission-registered firms in the city. These firms are bound by fiduciary duty to act in their clients’ best interests. From those registered firms, we eliminated any firms that did not have clean records. We also cut any firms that did not have financial planners or that did not manage individual accounts. The remaining firms were ranked according to assets under management, from highest to lowest.
Columbia Pacific Wealth Management
Columbia Pacific Wealth Management, or CPWM, is the newest firm on this list. It was founded just seven years ago in 2010. However, while it’s the newest, CPWM is also the biggest firm in terms of assets under management, which is why it’s the top-ranked firm on this list. Columbia Pacific Wealth Management manages more than $2.58 billion in assets.
To be a client of CPWM, you’ll need at least $5 million. The firm has two certified financial planners (CFPs) on staff. For any NFL players searching for a Seattle financial advisor, this is the only firm on this list that has an NFL Players Association (NFLPA) Registered Financial Advisor.
Two members of Columbia Pacific Wealth Management have an ownership interest in an insurance company. CPWM employees may receive commissions for the sale of insurance products that they recommend to clients. However, the firm is first and foremost bound by its fiduciary duty to act in its clients' best interests and it makes an effort to be transparent about this potential conflict of interest.
Columbia Pacific Wealth Management Background
Formed in 2011, CPWM is owned by by multiple individuals, none of whom own more than 25% of the firm’s membership interest.
Columbia Pacific Wealth Management believes “wealth is personal.” So, the firm aims to create customized, comprehensive and coordinated wealth management solutions for its clients. The firm will provide investment management, tax and wealth transfer, multi-generational planning, risk management, employer benefits ann philanthropic planning.
Though CPWM is large in terms of AUM, the firm says that it aims to create a boutique-like experience. The firm claims to only work with a select number of clients to better ensure quality of service and of relationships. It boasts a low client-to-advisor ratio, though it’s not the lowest on this list.
Columbia Pacific Wealth Management Investing
Columbia Pacific Wealth Management creates portfolios that emphasize cost, taxes and risks and are customized according to clients’ goals and risk tolerance. The firm deems asset allocation the main driver of investment returns, and it aims to diversify its portfolios across markets, asset classes and third-party managers.
CPWM primarily invests its clients’ assets in exchange-traded funds, mutual funds, separately managed accounts and limited partnerships. It may also use individual stocks and bonds when appropriate. The firm claims to have access to unique investment opportunities, including dimensional fund advisors, SNW asset management, global endowment management, real estate investing and private lending.
Badgley Phelps Wealth Managers
Badgley Phelps Wealth Managers, founded way back in 1966, is the oldest firm on this list. The fee-only firm has three certified financial planners (CFPs), one certified private wealth advisor (CPWA) and one certified divorce financial analyst (CDFA).
To be a client of the firm, which primarily serves high-net-worth individuals, you’ll need at least $1 million.
Badgley Phelps Wealth Managers Background
Badgley Phelps Wealth Management has been completely employee-owned since its founding in 1966. The firm currently has 34 employees, and 15 of those employees are shareholders. Badgley Phelps’ chairman Kevin Callaghan and president and chief investment officer Steven Phelps own significant portions of the firm.
Badgley Phelps Wealth Management provides an array of wealth management-related services, including wealth transfer planning, asset protection, investment management, cash flow planning, college planning, retirement planning, estate planning, tax planning, foundation management, risk management, legacy planning, philanthropic planning and investment policy development.
Badgley Phelps Wealth Management Investment Strategy
Badgley Phelps Wealth Management invests its clients’ assets in a mixture of growth stocks, value stocks, international stocks, small and midcap stocks, taxable bonds, municipal bonds, short-term bonds and multi-strategy alternative funds. The exact allocation depends on the portfolio strategy, as well as a client’s financial situation and goals and risk tolerance. Badgley Phelps offers three investment strategies: equity only, fixed income only and balanced portfolio management.
Equity management uses fundamental/bottom-up research to identify companies to invest in that have strong earnings or valuation, while fixed-income management seeks to create a diversified portfolio composed of high quality, intermediate-term bonds. Balanced management combines those two strategies with an alternative investment methodology to create a portfolio that’s balanced to a determined target allocation ratio.
Moss Adams Wealth Advisors LLC
Moss Adams Wealth Advisors LLC is a subsidiary of a company owned by Moss Adams LLP, one of the nation’s largest public accounting firms. The fee-based wealth management firm manages $2.14 billion in assets and has a staff of 26 advisors. It does not have a set account minimum.
The firm’s clients can buy insurance products through the firm’s affiliated insurance agency, Moss Adams Securities & Insurance LLC. Certain members of the firm’s insurance team are also representatives of other financial institutions. Any commissions are paid directly to the firm, not to the advisors. Moreover, the firm is bound by its fiduciary duty to act first and foremost in its clients’ best interests.
Moss Adams Wealth Advisors LLC Background
Moss Adams Wealth Advisors LLC has been in business since 1988. The firm is a wholly owned subsidiary of Moss Adams Financial Services, which, as was mentioned earlier, is wholly owned by the national public accounting and consulting firm Moss Adams LLP.
With Moss Adams’ wealth of affiliated companies and extensive staff, there is no shortage of services offered. Moss Adams Wealth Advisors provides an array of services, including investment management, investment consulting, fixed income management, personal financial planning and insurance management and consulting. The firm’s insurance review services are offered in conjunction with MASI.
The firm also offers family office services, including tax planning and preparation, stock option planning, estate planning, personal finance planning, investment management and consulting, insurance management and consulting, bill paying, household employee payroll, bookkeeping, cash flow and budgeting, liquidity management, reporting and communication, coordination of key advisors, heir preparation and family vision and governance.
Moss Adams Wealth Advisors LLC Investment Management
Moss Adams Wealth Advisors LLC takes its clients through a four-step wealth management process that integrates financial planning. In the first step, organize, the firm consolidates a client’s financial information and develops a personal profile of his or her goals, risk tolerance and time horizon. From there, the firm formalizes its plan for the client with an investment policy statement that will serve as a roadmap to future decisions. Step three is the implementation of that plan, and the final step is the continued monitoring of it.
Moss Adams builds its portfolios with the long term in mind. It aims to strategically diversify assets among several asset classes, so as to ensure exposure to disparate risk factors.
Merriman Wealth Management, LLC
Merriman Wealth Management has 15 certified financial planners (CFPs) on staff, the most of any firm on this list. It also has two certified public accountants (CPAs).
Merriman is the only firm on this list that serves a slightly larger percentage of individuals than high-net-worth individuals. The firm’s account minimums vary by account. There is no set account minimum for the firm’s MarketWise account option, the firm’s most widely used strategy. For Merriman’s Leveraged Global Opportunity Fund, the account minimum is $250,000. There’s a $350,000 minimum for the firm’s TrendWise100 and TrendWise80 accounts.
Merriman is one of two firms on this list, alongside Empirical Wealth Management, that charges performance-based fees. It’s a fee-only firm.
Merriman Wealth Management, LLC Background
Merriman Wealth Management, LLC was founded in 1983. In 2012, the firm joined Focus Financial Partners, LLC, the nation’s largest partnership of independent wealth management firms. Merriman is directly owned by its chief executive officer, Jeremy Burger; its chief operating officer, Dave Spratt; its chief financial officer, Colleen Lindstrom and Focus Financial Partners, LLC.
Merriman offers a comprehensive slate of services alongside investment planning, including tax planning, estate planning, risk management and charitable donations. When clients sign on with Merriman, they’ll go through an extensive, five-step introductory process, during which the firm will develop a complete client profile and develop a wealth management plan. To come up with the plan, an advisor will meet with a network of experts in tax, estate planning and insurance to ensure that it considers all parts of a client’s financial situation in the development of a wealth management plan.
Merriman Wealth Management, LLC Investing Philosophy
Merriman Wealth Management, LLC takes a fact-based approach to investing. The firm’s investing philosophy emphasizes the importance of controlling risk, carefully selecting assets and taking a long-term approach.
Merriman prefers to use a global diversified portfolio of mutual funds and some specialized securities. Exact allocations vary according to a client’s chosen approach. The firm’s MarketWise strategy are customized according to a client’s risk tolerance and are designed to always be fully invested, mainly in low-cost mutual funds. The TrendWise approach trades according to changes in market conditions, with investments primarily made through exchange-traded funds.
For investors looking for a more aggressive approach, Merriman is also the investment manager of the Leveraged Global Opportunity Fund, L.P., which aims to make gains by timing the market. This option is only available to “sophisticated investors who are ‘accredited investors’ and ‘qualified clients,’” the firm says.
Filament, LLC primarily serves high-net-worth individuals and families with complex holdings. The firm does not have a set account minimum. However, the firm does have minimum fees: Filament requires a $50,000 minimum retainer fee for its investment advisory and family office services, and a $15,000 minimum annual fee for its portfolio management services.
The fee-only firm does not have any certified financial planners (CFPs) on staff. It has two certified public accountants (CPAs).
Filament, LLC Background
Filament, LLC was founded in 2005 on the premise that clients could increase their chances at financial success by working with a team of experts in an independent, fee-only practice that aligned its interests with its clients’ interests. About 90% of Filament, LLC is owned by the firm’s employees.
Filament offers comprehensive services that it tailors according to individual client needs. Because many of its clients have complex financial situations, Filament will work with multiple client accounts, including personal and retirement accounts, education savings accounts, accounts of minor children, revocable and irrevocable trusts, family partnerships and charitable organizations. Filament offers an array of advice on matters related to that range of accounts, such as education planning, philanthropic planning and financial independence and retirement planning. The firm will also collaborate closely with a client’s other advisors, including other investment advisors, attorneys, CPAs, insurance professionals and bill payment services.
Filament, LLC Investment Approach
Filament, LLC is focused on wealth preservation. Instead of chasing the market, Filament stays focused on the long term. The firm’s investment strategies are tailored to clients’ financial goals and needs, risk tolerances and time horizons, all of which is laid out in an Investment Policy Statement.
The firm’s top priority is to develop a diversified mix of assets that aligns with a client’s Investment Policy Statement. Filament most commonly invests its clients’ assets in money market funds, separately managed accounts, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, exchange-traded notes, commingled trusts, real estate investment companies, registered investment companies, private placement limited partnerships and limited liability companies.
Laird Norton Wealth Management
Laird Norton Wealth Management is by far the biggest firm on this list. It has 40 advisors on staff, making it nearly 1.5 times the size of the second-largest firm on this list, Merriman Wealth Management, LLC.
Of those 40 advisors, there are 14 certified financial planners (CFPs), the second-most of any firm on this list. Laird Norton also has one certified trust and financial advisor (CTFA) and one personal financial specialist (PFS).
To be a client of this fee-only firm, you’ll need at least $3 million.
Laird Norton Wealth Management Background
Laird Norton Wealth Management began in 1967 to serve members of the Laird Norton family. It evolved over the decades, and in 2001 the firm acquired Tysee Asset Strategies, which was founded in 1995.
The merged entity, which is Laird Norton Wealth Management, is wholly owned by the Laird Norton Company and its family member shareholders. The Laird Norton Company is now in its seventh generation as a family-owned holding company.
Laird Norton Wealth Management Wealth Regeneration®
Wealth Regeneration® is Laird Norton’s approach to wealth management. The firm’s full-service wealth management services are aimed at meeting clients’ current needs, achieving future financial goals and safeguarding their legacy for future generations. The approach is focused not only on optimizing financial capital, but also human capital, to weave together all aspects of wealth.
At Laird Norton, each client works with a three-person team composed of an advisor, an analyst and an associate. The firm’s full-service wealth management includes investment management, financial planning and trust services.
Laird Norton Wealth Management Tax Awareness
Notably, all of Laird Norton Wealth Management’s investment plans are tax-aware, with asset allocations optimized for after-tax returns. The firm primarily recommends various mutual funds and other investment funds.
That tax awareness also extends to Laird Norton’s financial planning and trust services. Each plan includes tax planning for the coming year and beyond, as well as retirement planning and college funding. Laird Norton’s trust and estate planning services are built around minimizing estate taxes.
Barwick & Partners, Inc.
Barwick & Partners, Inc. is the smallest firm on this list, with only three advisors on staff. Of those three advisors, there is at least one certified financial planner (CFP).
The firm may be small in size, but it has a very high account minimum. Barwick & Partners requires its clients to have assets in the range of $50 million to $500 million. As such, it’s unsurprising that this is the only firm on this list that serves no individuals and only high-net-worth individuals.
While most financial advisor firms have at least some online presence, Barwick & Partners does not even have a website.
Barwick & Partners, Inc. Background
Founded in 1996, Barwick & Partners, Inc. is principally owned by Jon Barwick, the firm’s president and CCO. Barwick also personally serves a named fiduciary for certain clients, under separate agreements and for separate fees.
Barwick & Partners offers financial planning and management in four different areas: tax, investments, business succession and estate planning. The firm aims to provide coordinated and comprehensive wealth management, working with a client’s other advisors, including tax professionals and attorneys. If appropriate, Barwick will set up a “family office” structure for a client, with a team dedicated to managing the administration of the client’s daily affairs.
Barwick & Partners, Inc. Investment Strategy
Barwick & Partners says modern portfolio theory is the “backdrop” for its investment work. The firm focuses on asset allocation and primarily invests its clients’ assets in cash, bonds and stocks, as well as real estate, venture capital and operating companies.
The firm’s investment advice is first and foremost focused on a client’s cash flow needs. Growth is a “secondary consideration,” it says.
Empirical Wealth Management
Empirical Wealth Management has an impressive array of expertise and certifications, including 10 certified financial planners (CFPs), one personal financial specialist (PFS), six certified public accountants (CPAs), one certified divorce financial advisor (CDFA) and one certified management accountant (CMA). To be a client of the firm, you’ll need at least $1 million.
Empirical is a fee-based firm. It’s also one of two firms on this list, alongside Merriman Wealth Management, LLC, that charges performance-based fees.
Empirical Wealth Management Background
Empirical Wealth Management was founded in 2006. In 2009, Kenneth Smith, now the firm’s CEO, spun off from the company to form Empirical Financial Services, LLC. Then, in 2012, Empirical Financial Services purchased Empirical Wealth Management, re-merging the companies.
The resulting merged firm, Empirical Wealth Management, is principally owned by Smith. Ethan Broga, the director of financial planning, Lorne Enquist, the CFO, Hwa Park, the COO and Michael Kelly, the CIO are minority owners.
Empirical Wealth Management offers investment advisory services, financial planning, tax preparation assistance and pension consulting services. The firm’s financial planning services include wealth maximization planning, tax minimization strategies, estate planning, college planning, social security planning, insurance planning and income planning.
Empirical Wealth Management Investing
Empirical Wealth Management does not design customized portfolios for its clients. Instead, the firm offers several investment portfolios that are designed to meet a wide range of needs and with investment objectives ranging from conservative to aggressive. Clients do, however, have the ability to impose restrictions on investing in certain securities or types of securities.
The firm says that it’s investment and financial planning advice is grounded in “evidence-based research” - hence the firm’s name - and its investment philosophy is based on modern portfolio theory. Empirical Wealth Management typically invests its clients’ assets in between 12 and 21 distinct asset classes, including stocks, bonds and other investment vehicles.
Bristlecone Advisors, LLC
To be a client of Bristlecone Advisors, LLC, you’ll need at least $2 million. The fee-only firm predominantly serves high-net-worth individuals and families.
Bristlecone Advisors is on the smaller side compared to other firms on the list, with nine advisors on staff. The firm two certified financial planners (CFPs), one certified public accountant (CPA) and one financial risk manager (FRM).
Bristlecone Advisors, LLC Background
Founded in 1999, Bristlecone Advisors, LLC is an employee-owned firm. Seven of the firm’s 17 members are owners and partners, including Kevin Berry, Jeff Parker, Larry Kinner, Christopher Taylor, Kevin McCandlish, Tony Waltier and Joseph B. Winkler.
Bristlecone’s name is a metaphor for the firm’s mission. The Bristlecone Pine is the world’s oldest known tree species in the world and it thrives harsh environments, living to be thousands of years old. Like the durable, long-living tree, Bristlecone Advisors says it aims to “provide exceptional, personal solutions that withstand the test of time.
The firm offers integrated wealth management and family office services, which include personal accounting and banking, tax planning and administration, strategic philanthropy, risk management, estate planning and real asset management.
Bristlecone Advisors, LLC Investing
Bristlecone Advisors’ investment approach merges clients’ individual preferences with the key aspects of the modern portfolio theory, particularly diversification and a long-term perspective. Its proprietary strategy is also blended: the firm uses a top-down, macroeconomic review and bottom-up, fundamental research.
Bristlecone aims to create portfolios for its clients that include diversified investment manager products. It typically invests its clients in mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, separately managed accounts and limited partnerships, as well as individual equities and bonds.
Greene Wealth Management, LLC
Greene Wealth Management, LLC (GWM) is the only firm on this list that doesn’t have more than a billion dollars in assets under management. It’s the second-smallest firm on this list, ahead of Barwick & Partners, with four advisors on staff. Despite its small size, the firm has three certified financial planners (CFPs) on staff. To be a client, you’ll need at least $1 million.
Certain GWM employees are also licensed insurance agents, and they may receive commissions for the sale of insurance products. The firm is first and foremost bound by its fiduciary duty to act in its clients' best interests though.
GWM was ranked by Financial Times as a top financial advisor in 2017.
Greene Wealth Management, LLC Background
Greene Wealth Management, LLC was founded in 2005 by the firm’s current president, Kirk Greene, and a team of five people. The firm is 100% employee-owned; Greene, Vice President Jason Radabaugh and financial advisors Christopher Downing and Matthew Lowe are its principal owners.
GWM offers financial planning, consulting and investment management services. These offerings are grounded in the firm’s pillars of service, which include minimizing the effects of taxes and costs on long-term outcomes and collaborating with tax and estate advisors to provide a holistic management approach. GWM says that designs its services to meet “a wide range of financial issues over long periods of time.”
For those who like to know the plan ahead of time, Greene Wealth Management has an intricately detailed client roadmap posted on its website. The roadmap lays out each thing the firm will do, quarter by quarter.
Greene Wealth Management, LLC Investing Approach
Greene Wealth Management takes a research-based approach to investing. The firm’s investment philosophy is centered on professional management and diversification, with investments made across multiple asset classes, investment styles and independent managers.
GWM portfolios are designed according to individual clients’ financial goals, time horizons and risk profiles. The firm primarily allocates its clients’ assets among independent managers, exchange-traded funds, mutual funds and individual debt and equity securities.