The Strategic Financial Alliance
The Strategic Financial Alliance (SFA) is an Atlanta-based financial advisory firm that provides its independent network of advisors with back office support and investment solutions.
Through this network of independent advisors, the firm can offer a wide range of financial planning and portfolio management services, as well as financial education seminars. It's important to note that as an investor, you'll be working with one of SFA's affiliate advisors, not with SFA itself.
This firm is fee-based, as some of its partered advisors can receive commissions for securities and insurance sales. This differs from a fee-only firm, which is any one that does not receive these third-party commissions.
The Strategic Financial Alliance Background
The Strategic Financial Alliance was formed in 2003, and it was designed to help provide business services to independent advisors. The firm is also a registered broker-dealer. Clive Slovin is the firm's president and CEO, and Arthur Goldsmith is senior vice president. The firm is a wholly owned subsidiary of SFA Holdings, Inc.
The Strategic Financial Alliance Client Types and Minimum Account Sizes
The Strategic Financial Alliance's network of advisors works with both non-high-net-worth and high-net-worth individuals, as well as charities and corporations.
Generally, the firm and its advisor network impose a $25,000 minimum account size. The firm reserves the right to waive this minimum at its discretion. Other third-party managers may have different minimums.
Services Offered by The Strategic Financial Alliance
The Strategic Financial Alliance offers independent financial advisors business support, such as business growth advice, technological tools and back office support so that advisors can retain their independence while being part of a larger community. That means SFA's network of firms is the part of the business that works directly with investors.
Through SFA, these advisors provide clients with financial planning and portfolio management services, along with other financial offerings. While specific services may vary from advisor to advisor, there are several specific programs listed on the firm's Form ADV:
- Portfolio Management Programs
- Strategic Choice Program
- C-Share Mutual Fund Management Program
- Co-Advisory Programs
- FTJ FundChoice™ Program
- Manager Selection Programs
- Lockwood Managed Account Advisor Program
- AssetMark Investment Services programs
Financial planning services are available as well, and they may be broad or narrow in nature. Topics typically covered by financial planning services include estate planning, cash flow planning, education fund planning and tax planning. The firm provides wrap fee programs, too.
The Strategic Financial Alliance Investment Philosophy
Advisors in the SFA network of firms typically design their investment strategies to help meet the financial objectives of their clients. This includes working with new and existing clients to determine their desired investment strategies, tolerance for risk, overall financial situations and time horizons. Other information may be relevant as well, such as income or liquidity needs.
Advisors use a range of investments depending on the specific client. However, they commonly use stocks, bonds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and mutual funds to populate client portfolios, as well as certain illiquid, alternative securities for suitable investors.
Fees Under The Strategic Financial Alliance
The firm provides both wrap fee and non-wrap fee acounts, and each are charged different fees. With wrap fee accounts, clients pay more in advisory fees in exchange for avoiding transactional, custodial and trading fees. The fee schedules for various programs at SFA go as follows:
|Strategic Choice All-Inclusive (Wrap Fee) Program Fee Schedule|
|Portfolio Value||Annual Fee|
|$250K - $500K||2.15%|
|$500K - $1MM||2.00%|
|$1MM - $2.5MM||1.75%|
|$2.5MM - $5MM||1.50%|
|$5MM - $10MM||1.25%|
|Strategic Choice Non-Inclusive Program Fee Schedule|
|Portfolio Value||Annual Fee|
|$250K - $500K||1.90%|
|$500K - $1MM||1.75%|
|$1MM - $2.5MM||1.50%|
|$2.5MM - $5MM||1.25%|
|$5MM - $10MM||1.00%|
SFA's Co-Advisory Programs charge fees that vary based on the specific type of strategy used, though they typically start at 0.08% and go up from there. Typically, these fees do not exceed 2.00% annually.
When it comes to financial planning, fees are generally charged on either an hourly, fixed or percentage basis. Flat fees typically max out at $10,000, while hourly fees top out at $500 per hour. Percentage fees usually won't be higher than 2.00% of assets under management (AUM).
What to Watch Out For
The Strategic Financial Alliance has three disclosures listed on its Form ADV. Two of these disclosures are related to advisory affiliates of the firm, while one is attributed to it directly. This last disclosure describes a FINRA allegation that states the firm did not utilize procedures in relation to the use and supervision of consolidated reports and valuation information. As a result of this issue, the firm paid a $30,000 fine and submitted to a censure order.
SFA is considered to be a fee-based firm, as several of its affiliated advisors can receive commissions from insurance and securities sales. This creates a potential conflict of interest, though the firm and its advisors are bound by fiduciary duty, which legally requires them to act in the best interests of clients, no matter what.
Opening an Account with The Strategic Financial Alliance
Remember, you won't be able to open an account with SFA directly, as the firm only works with independent financial advisors. You can, however, go to the firm's website and submit a contact form or call (678) 954-4000 to find an SFA advisor in your area.
All information is accurate as of the writing of this article.
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