Symphony Asset Management Review
Symphony Asset Management, LLC is an investment advisory firm headquartered in San Francisco. The firm employs 28 financial advisors overseeing $18.8 billion in assets under management (AUM).
The management of institutional accounts is Symphony’s main focus. While the firm lists individual clients on its Form ADV, many of these accounts belong to employees of the firm rather than new clients. If you’re an individual looking for a financial advisor, try using our advisor matching tool to find options in your area.
Symphony is a fee-only firm, as the entirety of its compensation comes from fees it charges clients. This is distinctly different from a fee-based firm, which would not only receive client fees, but also income from outside sources, like insurance commissions. By forgoing such commission-based compensation, a fee-only firm can avoid some conflicts of interest.
Symphony Asset Management Background
Symphony Asset Management was founded in 1994. It is an independent subsidiary of Nuveen Investments, LLC, which is in turn a subsidiary of Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (TIAA), a large, nationwide financial services company. The firm’s leadership team consists of five investment professionals: co-heads of investments Scott Caraher, James Kim, Jenny Rhee and Himani Trivedi and business head Scott Grace.
The firm’s staff holds various advisory certifications, including chartered financial analysts (CFAs) and certified public accountants (CPAs).
What Types of Clients Does Symphony Asset Management Accept?
Symphony provides services to a variety of institutions. These clients include private investment funds, registered investment companies, pension funds, structured debt vehicles, separately managed accounts (SMAs), foundations, endowments, sovereign wealth funds and more.
Symphony Asset Management Minimum Account Size
The minimum account size for institutional clients is typically between $50 million and $100 million. This variance is dependent upon the strategy that’s used. Individual commingled private fund investments have a minimum of $5 million.
Symphony’s SMA programs generally have a $100,000 minimum investment, though this can vary from strategy to strategy.
Services Offered by Symphony Asset Management
At its core, Symphony is an investment advisory firm. It has a number of proprietary investment strategies that it applies to clients’ accounts on a risk-adjusted basis. Here’s a breakdown of these and other services at this firm:
- Institutional SMA programs
- Customizable investment management negotiated individually
- Private investment fund investment advice
- Collateralized loan obligations
- Firm acts as collateral manager for structured debt vehicles
- SMA dual contract and wrap fee programs
- Works indirectly with individuals through these accounts
- Model-based programs
- Firm provides portfolio models to programs sponsors on a non-discretionary basis
Symphony also serves as a sub-advisor for multiple open- and closed-end funds for its parent company, Nuveen. These funds are known as the “Nuveen Funds,” and they’re publicly available for investment.
Symphony Asset Management Investment Philosophy
Symphony primarily relies upon both debt and equity strategies to drive results for client portfolios. The firm's debt strategies include senior bank loans, high yield bonds, convertible bonds and asset backed securities. Other specific strategies used by the firm include long-short credit, convertible arbitrage, events driven opportunities and long-only credit.
When it comes to equity investing, Symphony heavily relies on fundamental and quantitative analysis methods while generally employing bottom-up security selection. The firm places a particular emphasis on analyzing the capital structure of all investment candidates.
Symphony largely invests with a long-term time horizon in mind. In order to provide the best possible advisory services, the firm utilizes a variety of data sources including computer models.
Fees Under Symphony Asset Management
Symphony takes an annual percentage of each client’s AUM as a fee. The percentage it charges is determined by a number of factors, such as asset class, investment strategy and more.
Symphony’s SMA and model-based programs often charge wrap fees. That means clients will pay a single, all-encompassing fee for services. Symphony’s annual fees for these accounts are usually around 0.40%, and the fees charged by the outside wrap program sponsors usually go as high as 3.00% of clients’ AUM. Unbundled, Symphony’s standard fee for SMA programs is as high as 1.00%.
Hedged private funds carry an annual management fee of 1.00% to 2.00%. Long-only private funds carry an annual fee of 0.45% to 0.55%. Investment services for collateralized loan obligations range from 0.30% to 0.50%. Finally, mutual funds carry an annual fee of, at most, 1.00%.
What to Watch Out For
Symphony does not offer financial planning services like retirement planning, tax planning or estate planning. So if you’re looking for financial planning, this firm will not be able to meet these needs.
Symphony charges a performance-based fee on certain accounts. This creates the potential for a conflict of interest, because, as the firm’s Form ADV states, “performance-based fees may create an incentive for Symphony to make investments that are riskier or more speculative than would be the case in the absence of a performance-based fee.” That said, the firm and its advisors are obligated to operate under fiduciary duty, keeping your best interests in mind at all times.
Symphony Asset Management does not have any disclosures on its Form ADV, which means that it has a clean legal and regulatory record.
Opening an Account With Symphony Asset Management
Investors who have interest in Symphony’s investment strategies can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call the firm at (415) 676-4000.
Where Is Symphony Asset Management Located?
Symphony is headquartered in San Francisco at 555 California Street. It also has secondary offices in Los Angeles and New York. You can do business with Symphony even if you don’t live near one of the firms’ offices.
Tips for Financial Planning
- While Symphony does not work with individual clients, many advisors in your area likely do. 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 your investments will grow over time? Use SmartAsset’s investment calculator to figure out what you can expect your money to do for you.