Finding a Top Financial Advisor Firm in Washington, D.C.
Choosing a financial advisor can be a long and arduous process, especially if you have a lot of options to choose from. To make it easier, SmartAsset created a list of the top financial advisors in our nation's capital. Throughout this review, you can compare each firm’s investment philosophy, account minimums and more. The SmartAsset financial advisor matching tool can also help you pick out an advisor; just answer some questions about your goals, and you'll be connected with advisors in your area.
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|Rank||Financial Advisor||Assets Managed||Minimum Assets||Financial Services||More Information|
|1||Farr, Miller & Washington, LLC Find an Advisor||$1,872,202,700||Varies based on account type|| || |
Minimum AssetsVaries based on account type
|2||Armstrong, Fleming & Moore, Inc. Find an Advisor||$927,094,678||$1,500,000|| || |
|3||Capital Investment Advisors Find an Advisor||$232,380,671||No set account minimum|| || |
Minimum AssetsNo set account minimum
|4||Bryspen, Incorporated Find an Advisor||$211,678,499||No set account minimum|| || |
Minimum AssetsNo set account minimum
|5||Graham Capital Wealth Management, LLC Find an Advisor||$133,562,554||$40,000|| || |
What We Use in Our Methodology
To find the top financial advisors in Washington, , we first identified all firms registered with the SEC in the city. Next, we filtered out firms that don't offer financial planning services, those that don't serve primarily individual clients and those that have disclosures on their record. The qualifying firms were then ranked according to the following criteria:
- AUMFirms with more total assets under management are ranked higher.
- Individual Client CountFirms who serve more individual clients (as opposed to institutional clients) are ranked higher.
- Clients Per AdvisorFirms with a lower ratio of clients per financial advisor are ranked higher.
- Age of FirmFirms that have been in business longer are ranked higher.
All information is accurate as of the writing of this article. This list may include firms that have a business relationship with SmartAsset, in which SmartAsset is compensated for lead referrals. Such relationships have no impact on our rankings, and firms are included and ranked based strictly on the above criteria.
Farr, Miller & Washington
With billions in assets under management (AUM), Farr, Miller & Washington has by far the highest AUM of any firm on this list. The firm’s account minimum varies by account type. To open a Wealth Builder portfolio, you’ll need at least $100,000. For a large-cap account, you’ll need at least $5,000, with every other type of account needing at least $500,000 in investable assets. About two-thirds of the firm’s client base are high-net-worth individuals.
Farr, Miller & Washington is an independently owned, fee-only firm. The firm’s officers hold stakes in the business.
The members of the firm’s advisory staff hold a total of 11 certifications. These certifications include four certified financial planners (CFPs), four chartered financial analysts (CFAs), one certified public accountant (CPA) and two certificates in investment performance measurement (CIPMs).
Farr, Miller & Washington Background
Michael Farr, Elmon Miller and John Washington founded the firm in 1996. Farr is the only one still working at the firm, as Miller and Washington have since passed away. Farr serves as president and CEO, and is the majority owner through a holding company. The firm also operates offices in Naples, Florida and Devon, Pennsylvania.
Regardless of what step you’re looking to take in your personal financial life, this firm likely offers relevant services. The firm offers tax mitigation, retirement planning, trust creation, estate planning, wealth transfers and pension and profit-sharing management. Advisors at this firm also have experience dealing with the financial issues faced by businesses, charitable organizations, foundations and state and municipal governments.
Farr, Miller & Washington Strategy
Quality investments, sustained growth, fundamental analysis and a long-term focus are the four pillars of the firm's business. But before any of these principles can be put into practice, your advisor will create a balance sheet of your assets. During this initial conversation, you’ll discuss your tax status, risk tolerance, time horizon, cash-flow needs and any other relevant factors.
The firm's core investment products are large cap growth equity; small/mid cap core equity; fixed income; and growth and income. A fifth investment approach, Wealth Builder, uses model portfolios investing in exchange-traded funds, and can be adjusted to fit any risk tolerance.
Armstrong, Fleming & Moore
Armstrong, Fleming & Moore requires a relatively high account minimum of $1.5 million, though it may waive the requirement at its discretion. It follows then that the firm primarily serves high-net-worth individuals. There are nine certified financial planners (CFPs), two accredited investment fiduciaries (AIFs) and two chartered retirement planning counselors (CRPCs) on staff.
Armstrong, Fleming & Moore is a fee-based firm. Some advisors are insurance agents and collect sales commissions. The firm is a fiduciary, however, so its advisors are legally required to put clients' best interests before their own.
Armstrong, Fleming & Moore Background
One of the oldest firms on this list, Armstrong, Fleming & Moore was founded in 1983 by chairman emeritus Alexandra Armstrong. Today, the firm is majority owned by principals Ryan Fleming and Mary Moore. In 2012 and 2014, Chris Rivers and Carl Holubowich also became owners.
No matter where you are in your financial timeline, the firm can offer guidance. Armstrong, Fleming & Moore lists the following as its most common services:
- Cash-flow planning and debt analysis
- Retirement planning
- Tax planning
- Education planning
- Estate planning
- Insurance planning and risk management
Armstrong, Fleming & Moore Strategy
Armstrong, Fleming & Moore’s investment committee, which is comprised of its principals and other advisors, ultimately decides where to invest your assets. The firm’s investment committee meets bi-weekly to discuss investment opportunities. Typically, the firm uses exchange-traded funds, mutual funds, stocks and bonds.
The investment committee bases its decisions for individual portfolios on an investor’s risk tolerance and financial goals. As your account matures, the firm will rebalance your account should it drift from your target asset allocation.
Capital Investment Advisors
With no set account minimum, Capital Investment Advisors works mostly with individuals who do not have high net worths. It also serves high-net-worth individuals, retirement plans, trusts, estates, charitable non-profits, foundations, corporations and other business entities.
The firm's team of advisors holds numerous certifications, including three certified financial planners (CFPs), two certified public accountants (CPAs), two chartered financial consultants (ChFCs), one chartered life underwriter (CLU) and one certified fund specialist (CFS).
As a fee-based firm, some advisors may also be broker-dealer representatives and/or insurance agents. The compensation for these non-advisor roles are transaction-based, which can potentially be a conflict of interest. That said, the firm is a fiduciary, meaning it is legally bound to act in its clients' best interests.
Capital Investment Advisors Background
While it’s hardly a young firm, Capital Investment Advisors is one of the most recently formed firms on this list. It was founded in 1998 by the firm’s current president and CEO, John Girouard, who has more than 30 years of experience in the industry. Aside from Girouard, the rest of the firm’s staff averages about 20 years’ experience in asset management.
Capital Investment Advisors emphasizes the importance of financial independence. The firm strives to help its clients achieve financial independence through its various services, which include:
- Financial planning
- Retirement planning
- Investment management
- Risk management and insurance services
- Estate and legacy planning
- Charitable and philanthropic gifting strategies
- Social Security, Medicare and employer benefit strategies
- Long-term care planning
- Education savings plans
- Comprehensive tax analysis and preparation
Capital Investment Advisors Strategy
Capital Investment Advisors says it “subscribes to ‘Conditionomics,’ the psychology of money.” In other words, the firm thinks holistically about an investor’s financial life and believes that all financial decisions are equally important and valuable, no matter how small or large those decisions appear to be.
Capital Investment Advisors typically invests its clients’ assets in stocks, bonds, government securities, mutual funds, unit investment trusts and limited partnerships. The asset allocations applied to your account will vary depending on your risk tolerance and cash flow needs.
A unique feature of Capital Investment Advisors is the extensive introductory workshop it provides to new clients. This meeting is centered on teaching new clients the ins and outs of the financial industry, with the idea that this knowledge will allow you to better understand the firm’s decisions regarding your assets.
Bryspen, Incorporated has a very small group of on-staff advisors, though it still maintains a strong clients-per-advisor ratio. While the firm doesn’t say that it has a specific account minimum, it works almost entirely with high-net-worth individuals. It also maintains advisory relationships with non-high-net-worth individuals and retirement plans.
The services at Bryspen, Incorporated are offered on a fee-only basis. This means that its income is exclusively from client fees. The firm has one certified investment management analyst (CIMA).
Bryspen, Incorporated Background
John S. Bryan founded Bryspen, Incorporated in 1993 in Atlanta. The firm has since moved its principal place of business to Washington, D.C. Bryan is still the firm’s president and 100% owner.
Bryspen provides financial planning services to its clients in the form of a “Financial Profile” report. The firm also offers investment supervisory services and consulting services.
Bryspen, Incorporated Investment Philosophy
Bryspen primarily relies on fundamental analysis when evaluating potential securities. This method of analysis attempts to discern the intrinsic or “fundamental” value of a company or stock by examining overall economic and financial factors, then using that value to determine if the stock is overpriced or underpriced.
The firm also seeks to maintain diversification across different asset classes in client portfolios. It sticks to a long-term purchasing strategy for the most part, which means purchasing investments with the intent of holding onto them for at least one year. In certain situations, however, the firm may employ a short-term purchasing strategy if it feels conditions could soon result in a significant price increase.
Graham Capital Wealth Management
With its SEC registration approved only recently, Graham Capital Wealth Management is one of the newer firms on this list. The firm requires at least a $40,000 investment for its portfolio management services, though it may reduce that amount at its discretion. With such a relatively low minimum, it serves mainly individuals who do not have high net worths. It also works with more affluent investors, trusts and estates.
At Graham Capital, advisors may also be insurance agents. In these sales roles, they can collect commissions, which could potentially be a conflict of interest. But as an SEC-registered firm, the advisors are legally required to put clients' best interests first. One advisor is a certified financial planner (CFP) here.
Graham Capital Wealth Management Background
Two members of the Graham family work at the firm as managing directors: Stash and Alex. The former is the majority owner and chief investment officer (CIO), while the latter serves as chief compliance officer (CCO). Both have master's degrees in finance.
The advisory provides investment management and financial planning services. It also offers retirement plan advisory services to plan sponsors. The fee for financial planning is usually included in your investment management fee, which is asset-based.
Graham Capital Wealth Management Investing Strategies
Based on its discussions with you, Graham will construct an investment portfolio, consisting of low-cost, diversified mutual funds and/or exchange-traded funds. It may also use individual stocks or bonds - and retain already held investments due to tax considerations and other factors. Generally, the firm takes the long view, though it may engage in short-term trading if deemed appropriate.
When evaluating investments, Graham Capital primarily uses fundamental, technical and/or cyclical methods of analysis. Its sources of research include financial media companies, third-party research materials, Internet sources and company annual reports, prospectuses and press releases.