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Sontag Advisory Review

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Sontag Advisory Review

Sontag Advisory LLC

Sontag Advisory is an financial advisor firm headquartered in New York City with just under $5 billion in assets under management (AUM). In addition to its primary office in New York, the firm also operates advisory offices in California, Connecticut and Florida. The firm employs 21 financial advisors across these offices. This is a fee-only firm, which means its sole source of income is client-paid fees. (That's different from a fee-based compensation structure, which indicates that a firm also earns compensation through commission-based transactions.)

In 2019, Sontag received high ratings from throughout the financial industry. AdvisoryHQ named the firm one of its top 10 advisors in New York City, while Financial Times included it in its list of the top 300 registered investment advisors (RIAs) in the U.S.

Sontag Advisory Background

Howard Sontag, Sontag Advisory's chairman and senior managing director, founded the firm in 1995. Since 2015, the firm has been a wholly owned subsidiary of NFP Corp., a financial services holding company. In 2019, Sontag acquired another RIA in Bronfman Rothschild. Aside from Howard Sontag, the firm's leadership team includes CEO Mike LaMena, president and chief operating officer (COO) Eric Sontag and senior vice president, general counsel and chief compliance officer (CCO) Hoyt Stastney.

Sontag employs 21 advisors in total, 11 of whom are certified financial planners (CFPs), two of whom are chartered financial analysts (CFAs) and one of whom is a certified investment management analyst (CIMA).

What Types of Clients Does Sontag Advisory Accept?

Sontag works with a wide range of clients, though individuals (both with and without a high net worth) comprise 95% of the client base. The remaining clients include retirement plans, charitable organizations and businesses.

Sontag Advisory Minimum Account Sizes

There is no minimum account size required to become a client of Sontag Advisory. Under certain circumstances, a minimum annual fee may be implemented.

Services Offered by Sontag Advisory

Sontag Advisory provides a fairly exhaustive range of advisory services to its clients, with some naturally lending themselves to certain client types. The following breakdown provides an overview of the firm’s offerings:

  • Investment advisory
    • Evaluation of current portfolio
    • Assessment of investment objectives and financial goals
    • Asset allocation planning
    • Selection of separate account managers
    • Investment program implementation and rebalancing
    • Portfolio monitoring and risk management
    • Performance measurement
  • Financial planning and consulting
    • Portfolio monitoring and advice regarding externally managed assets
    • Insurance planning
    • Estate and wealth transfer planning
    • Retirement planning
    • Education planning
    • Philanthropic and charitable gift planning
  • Trustee services
  • Advisory services for retirement plans

Sontag Advisory Investment Philosophy

Sontag Advisory follows four key tenets within its investment philosophy. According to its Form ADV, the firm emphasizes:

  • "Managing risk with highly diversified portfolios that feature a broad range of asset classes and market sectors."
  • "Continual evaluation of how an individual investment decision may impact a broader portfolio."
  • "Maintaining portfolios with simple and liquid investments – no investment in hedge funds, private investment vehicles or illiquid securities."
  • "Minimizing portfolio changes and turnover.”

There may be some variance within Sontag's philosophy depending on clients' specific financial preferences or needs. For the most part, though, the firm's advisors construct portfolios using a combination of actively and passively managed mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and separately managed accounts (SMAs).

Fees Under Sontag Advisory

Investment management fees at Sontag Advisory are generally calculated as a percentage of your AUM. The size of your account dictates the rate you pay, with fees being due on a quarterly basis, in advance. Certain fees may be negotiable.

Investment Management Fees
Account Value Fee % at this tier Total fee at tier maximum
$0 - $500K 1.20% 1.20%
$500K - $1MM 0.90% 1.05%
$1MM - $2MM 0.85% 0.95%
$2MM - $5MM 0.80% 0.86%
$5MM - $10MM 0.45% 0.66%
$10MM - $25MM 0.40% 0.50%
Above $25MM 0.30% <0.50%

You can refer to the below to compare how investment management fees at Sontag Advisory match up against national benchmarks. Keep in mind that these are only estimates, however. Your experience may vary.

Estimated Fee Comparison*
Your Assets Under Management (AUM) Sontag Advisory Investment Management National Median Advisory Fees**
$500K $6,000 $5,000
$1MM $10,500 $8,500 - $10,000
$5MM $43,000 $25,000 - $32,500
$10MM $65,500 $50,000
*Fee estimates only consider the maximum base fees for the services each firm provides. You may also pay manager fees and other fees, which can vary in amount. **All figures are based on median fee levels according to Bob Veres' 2017 Planning Profession Fee Survey. The above estimates solely take into account AUM-only fees. Total costs will likely be higher due to additional expenses.


Sontag Advisory has no disclosures listed on its Form ADV, meaning it has no record of regulatory or legal issues.

Opening an Account With Sontag Advisory

If you’re interested in striking up a professional relationship with Sontag Advisory, there are a few different channels through which you can get the ball rolling. You can give the firm a call at (212) 973-1200 or you can send an email to info@sontagadvisory.com.

Where Is Sontag Advisory Located?

Sontag Advisory is headquartered on Fifth Avenue in New York City, just two blocks North of Bryant Park. The firm also has offices in Aliso Viejo, California; Westport, Connecticut; and Boca Raton, Florida.

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How Many Years $1 Million Lasts in Retirement

SmartAsset's interactive map highlights places where $1 million will last the longest in retirement. Zoom between states and the national map to see the top spots in each region. Also, scroll over any city to learn about the cost of living in retirement for that location.

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

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

First, we looked at data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on the average annual expenditures of seniors. We then applied cost of living data from the Council for Community and Economic Research to adjust those national average spending levels based on the costs of each expense category (housing, food, healthcare, utilities, transportation and other) in each city. Using this data, SmartAsset calculated the average cost of living for retirees in the largest U.S. cities.

We assumed the $1 million would grow at a real return (interest minus inflation) of 2%. This reflects the typical return on a conservative investment portfolio. Then, we divided $1 million by the sum of each of those annual numbers to determine how long $1 million would cover retirement expenses in each of the cities in our study. Cities where $1 million lasted the longest ranked the highest in the study.

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Council for Community and Economic Research