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Sterling Wealth Management Review

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Sterling Wealth Management

Sterling Wealth Management is a fee-only, private advisor that’s registered with the SEC. The boutique firm is based in Champaign, Illinois and currently holds more than $100 million in assets under management (AUM). The firm provides holistic financial planning services that revolve around wealth management and asset management. To open an account, you generally need a $1 million minimum investment. However, the firm may waive this requirement at its discretion. 

Sterling Wealth Management Background 

Sharon Allen and Martin Allen founded Sterling Wealth Management in 2004. Today, the firm employs certified financial planners (CFPs), and it extends its services to more than 100 individual clients. 

What Types of Clients Does Sterling Wealth Management Accept?

Sterling Wealth Management mostly works with individuals. About half of these are high-net-worth clients. However, the firm also offers its services to businesses, charities, profit-sharing plans, trusts and estates.  

Sterling Wealth Management Minimum Account Size

To work with Sterling Wealth Management, you generally need a minimum account balance of $1 million. However, the firm may require a lower minimum based on several factors. These include anticipated future assets, account composition and negotiations with clients. 

Services Offered by Sterling Wealth Management

Sterling Wealth Management offers several services including the following: 

  • Investment consulting
  • Financial planning
  • Relationship management
  • Concierge services

When it comes to investment consulting and asset management, the firm can help you build an investment portfolio utilizing several types of securities including mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), commercial paper, municipal bonds, government securities, certificates of deposit (CD) and more. 

In addition, the firm can help you build and maintain an overall wealth management plan. This strategy may touch upon the following aspects of your financial planning: 

Sterling Wealth Management Investment Philosophy

Sterling Wealth Management primarily utilizes fundamental analysis when making investment decisions. It seeks to diversify across and within various asset classes when constructing portfolios. It also believes diversification should be global in nature. 

The firm looks at long-term historical data regarding the performance of different asset classes. Sterling generally believes risk and return are related and that the market is efficient over the long term. 

Fees Under Sterling Wealth Management

For wealth and asset management services, the firm generally charges fees based on the schedule detailed below. 

Assets Under Management Annual Advisory Fee
$0 – $1,000,000 1.00%
$1,000,000.01 – $5,000,000 0.75%
$5,000,000.01 0.50% 

Check out the table below to see how Sterling Wealth Management's fees compare to the average asset-based fees of other firms.

*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.
Estimated Fee Comparison*
Your Assets Sterling Wealth Management Asset-Based Fees National Median Advisory Fees**
$500K n/a (below required minimum) $5,000
$1MM $7,500 $8,500 - $10,000
$5MM $25,000 $25,000 - $32,500
$10MM $50,000 $50,000

However, these fees do not include external charges including those not paid to Sterling Wealth management but to other entities involved in the management of your investments. We’ve listed a few below: 

  • Brokerage commissions from custodial firms
  • Transaction fees
  • Expenses paid to mutual fund and ETF managers (Detailed in fund prospectuses) 

What to Watch Out For

Advisors working for Sterling have a fiduciary duty to work in the best interests of the client, so there is not much to watch out for. Moreover, the firm doesn’t sell its own investment products or actively engages with other businesses. It’s also not affiliated with any broker-dealers. Sterling Wealth Management also doesn’t recommend investments that the firm or its principal owner has a financial or ownership interest in. If such a case comes up, the firm is required to disclose this interest. 

Disclosures

Sterling Wealth Management hasn’t reported any legal or disciplinary instances, according to the latest Form ADV it filed with the SEC. This is a document that registered advisory firms must file if they operate at least $25 million in AUM. 

Opening an Account with Sterling Wealth Management

The easiest way to open an account with Sterling Wealth Management is by visiting its headquarters in Champaign, Illinois. You can also call the office at (217) 398-1900.

Where Is Sterling Wealth Management Located?

Sterling Wealth Management is located at 301 North Neil Street, Suite 203, Champaign, Illinois 61820. 

Tips for Finding a Financial Advisor

  • If you’d like to work with a financial advisor, we can point you in the right direction. Try narrowing your choices by using our SmartAsset financial advisor matching tool. It connects you with up to three financial advisors in your area. From there, you can review their profiles and set up interviews before deciding to work with one.
  • Fee structures can vary among different advisors depending on the services you seek. Our cost of a financial advisor report examines these points in detail.

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 cost of living in retirement there.

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

Methodology SmartAsset calculated the average cost of living for retirees in the largest U.S. cities. Using that calculation, we determined how many years $1 million would last in retirement in each major city.

First, we looked at data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on the average annual expenditures of seniors throughout the country. 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.

We assumed the $1 million would grow at a real return (interest minus inflation) of 2%, reflecting the typical return on a conservative investment portfolio. Finally, we divided $1 million by the sum of each of those annual numbers to determine how long $1 million would last in each of the cities in our study.

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