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Summit Financial Group Review

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Summit Financial Group, Inc.

Summit Financial Group, Inc. offers services to financial advisors around the country. These include a collection of discretionary, non-discretionary and wrap fee investment management programs, as well as practical marketing and technology services.

The firm is headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida and has almost $2.9 billion in assets under management (AUM) internally and through its advisor partners. Individuals without a high net worth are the most common clients of Summit's services, though it does work with some institutional clients as well.

Summit is a fee-only firm. This means that it only receives compensation through client fees. By contrast, a fee-based firm can also earn compensation from outside sources like insurance and securities commissions, which can present a conflict of interest. 

(Note: Summit Financial Group is not affiliated with Summit Financial, LLC, an advisory firm based in Parsippany, NJ.)

Summit Financial Group Background

Summit Financial Group has been in business since 1995 and works with a nationwide network of financial advisors. The firm was founded by president and CEO Marshall Leeds, who has three decades of financial services experience. Summit is a subsidiary of Summit Brokerage Services, Inc., which is in turn a subsidiary of Aretec Group, Inc., a holding company.

According to the firm's website, it is partnered with more than 450 financial advisors at over 300 offices around the U.S. Summit is a member of Cetera Financial Group®, a wealth management-focused financial services company.

What Types of Clients Does Summit Financial Group Accept?

Summit's advisory affiliates work with a wide range of clients, most of whom are individuals without a high net worth. Its other typical clients include retirement plans, charitable organizations, businesses and high-net-worth individuals.

Summit Financial Group Minimum Account Size

Summit's minimum account size requirements vary according to the programs it offers. Minimum investments may be waived at the discretion of the firm.

  • Wells Fargo programs
    • Allocation Advisors: $25,000
    • Diversified Managed Account: $100,000 - $250,000
    • Masters: $100,000
    • Private Advisors Network: $100,000
    • Wells Fargo Compass: $50,000 - $250,000
    • CustomChoice: $25,000
    • FundSource: $10,000 - $25,000
    • Asset Advisor: $25,000
    • Private Investment Management: $50,000
    • MAP/VIP: $10,000
  • Pershing programs
    • AIM/AIM Plus: $25,000
    • Elite/Elite Plus: $50,000
    • Envestnet: $25,000 - $250,000
    • Lockwood: $50,000 - $250,000
    • MAP/VIP: $10,000
  • Other programs
    • Investment Management Program: $10,000
    • Summit Foliofn Portfolio: $10,000
    • ERISA Participant Advice Program: $25,000

Services Offered by Summit Financial Group

Summit Financial Group indirectly provides clients many different services through its partnered advisory firms. These offerings span across investment management, financial planning and more, including:

  • Financial planning
    • Retirement planning
    • Investment planning
    • Major purchase planning
    • Education planning
    • Distribution planning
    • Asset allocation
    • Net worth analysis
    • Income and survivor income planning
  • Investment management
    • Discretionary and non-discretionary variations
    • Wrap fee programs
    • Customized investment plans
  • In-network advisor matching with clients
  • ERISA Participant Advice Program

Summit Financial Group Investment Philosophy

Summit pursues active and steady growth, with an eye towards mitigating risk and meeting the needs of each client. Many advisors in the Summit network have differing advisory strategies, but these are intertwined with what Summit institutes across its advisory programs.

The two core tenets of Summit's investment strategy are asset allocation and diversification. The former decides what percentages of your portfolio's overall makeup will belong to specific securities, such as equities, bonds or mutual funds. Diversification then dictates that your investments are spread throughout various market sectors so that the success of your portfolio isn't overly dependent on one area.

Fees Under Summit Financial Group

Summit charges annual fees based on a percentage of each client's AUM, along with fixed and hourly fees for financial planning services. The rate you pay will depend on the overall size of your account with Summit or one of its partnered advisory firms.

Summit Financial Group Program Fees
Program Maximum Annual Fee
Wells Fargo Platform  1.15% - 3.00%, depending on specific service
Pershing Platform 1.50% - 3.00%, depending on specific service
Investment Management 3.00%
Summit Foliofn 3.00%
Plan Advice & Consulting 1.50%
ERISA Participant Advice 2.25%

Each program charges clients fees in a slightly different manner:

  • Financial planning and consulting: Fees are paid upon the completion of your financial plan or on a quarterly, semi-annual or annual basis for consulting services.
  • Portfolio management: These fees are automatically paid through either the deduction of cash from your account or the liquidation of assets.
  • Selection of other advisors: Fees vary on an advisor-to-advisor and client-to-client basis.
  • Fiduciary and non-fiduciary services: All charges are billed or debited from plan participants' accounts.

Disclosures

Summit has several disclosures listed on its Form ADV. However, only two of these impact the firm directly. One took place in 2011, as the firm was found to have violated the Pennsylvania Securities Act and was ordered to pay a fine of $21,500. Then, in 2019, the firm was subject to censure after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) found it to have breached fiduciary duty in regards to the disclosure of fees.

Despite these disclosures, Summit Financial Group abides by fiduciary duty. This legally binds it to act in the best interests of clients.

Opening an Account With Summit Financial Group

If you'd like to open an account at Summit, you can go online to the firm's website and complete a contact form. You can also call (888) 973-0226 if you prefer dealing over the phone.

Where Is Summit Financial Group Located?

Summit is located in Boca Raton, Florida at 595 South Federal Highway in Suite 500. It also has affiliated offices in most states.

Tips for Financial Planning

  • Finding the right financial advisor that fits your needs doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • Wondering how much you can expect your investments to grow in the year to come? Our investment calculator can give you a quick snapshot of your expected returns, so you can plan accordingly. 

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.

Least
Most
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