Finding a Top Financial Advisor Firm in Washington
You’re not about to entrust your wealth with just anyone. But with so many financial advisors out there, how do you choose one? To help you narrow the field, we did the initial research for you, collecting fundamental factors such as assets under management (AUM), fees and investment strategy. Then we put the info together, here, for convenient comparing and contrasting. Start your search with this list of the top financial advisor firms in Washington. Then use SmartAsset’s free financial advisor matching tool to connect with local advisors.
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|Rank||Financial Advisor||Assets Managed||Minimum Assets||Financial Services||More Information|
|1||Fisher Investments Find an Advisor||$159,611,530,686||Varies based on account type|| || |
Minimum AssetsVaries based on account type
|2||Brighton Jones, LLC Find an Advisor||$8,443,257,340||No set account minimum|| || |
Minimum AssetsNo set account minimum
|3||Freestone Capital Management, LLC Find an Advisor||$7,223,476,563||No set account minimum|| || |
Minimum AssetsNo set account minimum
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|4||Merriman Find an Advisor||$3,033,442,862||Varies based on account type|| || |
Minimum AssetsVaries based on account type
|5||Laird Norton Wealth Management Find an Advisor||$4,170,894,450||No set account minimum|| || |
Minimum AssetsNo set account minimum
|6||Columbia Pacific Wealth Management Find an Advisor||$5,108,779,281||$5,000,000|| || |
|7||Coldstream Wealth Management Find an Advisor||$4,322,472,850||$2,000,000|| || |
|8||Badgley Phelps Wealth Managers Find an Advisor||$3,818,379,798||$1,000,000|| || |
|9||Empirical Wealth Management Find an Advisor||$3,045,728,540||$1,000,000|| || |
|10||Evergreen Capital Management, LLC Find an Advisor||$2,991,640,859||Varies based on account type|| || |
Minimum AssetsVaries based on account type
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 state. 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.
Fisher Investments is a global money management firm headquartered in Camas, Washington. The fee-only financial advisor has the largest amount in assets under management of any firm on this list. The firm's AUM is on a discretionary basis only. With private clients (in addition to institutional ones) across the U.S., Europe, Canada, Asia and the Middle East, the firm serves more than 60,000 private clients.
Though it generally calls for a $500,000 account minimum, the firm may selectively accept a lower minimum of $200,000 for its WealthBuilder accounts. High-net-worth clients still comprise the largest percentage of its client base, though Fisher Investments also works with pooled investment vehicles, charitable organizations, state or municipal government entities and other investment advisors.
Fisher Investments Background
Now a renowned figure in the investment world and author of 11 books, Ken Fisher founded Fisher Investments in 1979. Investment Advisor Magazine has named Fisher one of the 30 most influential figures in the investment advisory business for the last three decades.
Fisher Investments' services for private clients include portfolio management, annuity conversion, financial planning and retirement planning. Its portfolio management services are divided into three categories, each of which is aimed at maximizing returns within risk parameters:
- Equity accounts: mainly use common stock and cash equivalents
- Fixed-income accounts: mainly use various fixed income instruments and cash
- Balanced accounts: use a combination of stocks, fixed income instruments and cash
Ken Fisher is the majority owner (indirectly through his company Fisher Investments, Inc.) and serves as the firm's executive chairman and co-chief investment officer. Several other senior leaders have small stakes.
Fisher Investments Investing Strategy
Believing that no one investment strategy is always superior, the firm takes an active approach to investing so it can respond to the markets and make changes to client portfolios as necessary. It also takes a top-down approach, with its investment policy committee (led by Fisher) making investment decisions.
The firm believes that asset allocation is the primary driver of portfolio performance and uses both qualitative and quantitative tools to analyze markets, sectors and securities with the aid of computers, computer peripherals, software and computer databases. The committee screens invests in market sectors and securities it thinks are likely to outperform.
Brighton Jones is a fee-only firm managing billions in assets, mostly on a discretionary basis. Headquartered in Seattle, it has offices in Portland, San Francisco, Scottsdale and Washington, D.C. The Seattle location includes a ton of certified financial planners (CFPs) and certified public accountants (CPAs). It also has chartered financial analysts (CFAs) on staff.
Clients who are high-net-worth vastly outnumber those who aren’t. The firm also serves institutional clients, including pooled investment vehicles, pension and profit-sharing plans and charitable organizations. The firm does not set a minimum account size but does have a minimum quarterly fee of $2,500.
Brighton Jones Background
Charles Brighton and Jon Jones founded the firm (and lent their names to it) in 1999. They are the majority owners and serve as managing director of the family office and CEO, respectively. Several other employees have small stakes.
In addition to providing portfolio management services, the firm manages several affiliated and non-affiliated private funds and offers wealth management, retirement plan consulting, financial planning and financial wellness consulting.
Brighton Jones Investing Strategy
The firm’s methodology in screening securities includes fundamental, technical and cyclical analyses. In constructing portfolios, it may use long-term and short-term purchases, margin transactions and options.
As of its recent SEC filings, assets under Brighton Jones’ management were primarily allocated among mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
Freestone Capital Management
Freestone Capital Management is next up on our list. Headquartered in Seattle, the fee-only firm also has an office in Portland and more in California. The Seattle team includes certified financial planners (CFPs), chartered financial analysts (CFAs), certified investment management analysts (CIMAs), certified public accountants (CPAs), chartered alternative investment advisors (CAIAs) and more.
There are slightly more clients who are high-net-worth individuals as ones who aren’t. Freestone Capital also serves pooled investment vehicles, pension and profit-sharing plans, charitable organizations and corporations. Though there is technically no minimum investment, the firm seeks clients who can invest at least $1 million in discretionary assets ($500,000 if referred through Schwab Advisor Network service).
Freestone Capital Management Background
Gary Furukawa founded Freestone Capital as a corporation in 1999 (it’s now a limited liability company). His wife, Della, and he indirectly own more than 25% but less than 50% of the firm through entities they control. He manages the firm, along with Erik Morgan, a senior partner who has a small stake.
Services offered by the firm include:
- Discretionary and non-discretionary investment advising
- Private funds
- Financial planning
- Retirement plan solutions
- College planning
- Corporate benefits
Fees for discretionary investment advice are based on a percentage of assets under management. Generally, the minimum fee is $10,000 (except for clients referred by Schwab, in which case the minimum fee is $4,000). The firm may charge performance-based fees. Additionally, Freestone Capital may earn commissions for selling insurance products to clients.
Freestone Capital Management Investing Strategy
Seeking to build client portfolios with a proper balance of risk and reward, the firm’s strategy is summed up in the motto “stay wealthy.” Freestone Capital typically takes long-term positions, but may also use short-term purchases, trading, concentrated positions, short sales and other techniques.
Merriman Wealth Management
Merriman Wealth Management, better known simply as Merriman, is the next firm on our list of the top financial advisors in Washington state. Merriman is a large firm that works almost exclusively with individual clients. Of these individuals, slightly more than 50% are non-high-net-worth individuals, though the majority of the firm's assets under management comes from its high-net-worth clients. When it comes to institutional clients, the firm works with a single pooled investment vehicle.
Merriman is a fee-only firm. Despite being affiliated with some other businesses, advisors don't take commissions from selling financial products to clients and are therefore not subject to a conflict of interest. The firm doesn't have a set account minimum, though one specific type of account has a $250,000 minimum.
Merriman Wealth Management Background
Merriman Wealth Management was founded in 1983, but still isn't even one of the three oldest firms on our list. While the firm has been in business since then, it only registered with the SEC as an investment advisor in 2013. The firm is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Focus Financial Partners, LLC. The firm is managed by Jeremy Burger, Tyler Bartlett, and Kristi de Grys.
Merriman works with its clients to provide investment programs and investment portfolios as well as comprehensive wealth management services.
Merriman Wealth Management Investment Strategy
Merriman Wealth Management aims to tailor its investment advisory services to the needs and objectives of its clients. Advisors look to build well-balanced and globally-diversified portfolios that can help client achieve their financial goals. Merriman MarketWise and Merriman TrendWise are two of the firm's core investment products.
Given the size of the firm, not every part of the investment process, such as creating a full portfolio from scratch, is fully tailored to the individual needs of clients. However, advisors still take into account the objectives of clients when deciding where and how to invest on their behalf.
Laird Norton Wealth Management
Next up on our list of the top financial advisory firms in the state of Washington is Laird Norton Wealth Management, a large investment advisory firm with a client base that primarily consists of high-net-worth individuals. The firm also works with non-high-net-worth individuals, pooled investment vehicles, pensions, profit sharing plans and charitable organizations.
Laird Norton does not have a minimum account size requirement. In fact, it works with an incredibly wide range of account balances. The firm is also fee-only, so you won't have to worry about the potential conflict of interest that could arise from an advisor receiving commissions from the sale of financial products to clients that they advise.
Laird Norton Wealth Management Background
Laird Norton Wealth Management was founded all the way back in 1967, but it's still not the oldest firm on the list. While it went into business in 1967, it only officially registered with the SEC as an investment advisor in 2001. The firm is wholly-owned by Laird Norton Trust Company. The firm employs a number of certified financial planners (CFP) and chartered financial analysts (CFA), among other certifications and qualifications.
Laird Norton provides its clients with investment advisory services through separately managed accounts. It also provides certain financial planning services as a part of its overall investment advisory services.
Laird Norton Wealth Management Investment Strategy
As is the case with many other financial advisor firms, Laird Norton Wealth Management tailors its investment management services, investment advice and investment strategies to the financial needs and investment objectives of its clients. Each client relationship begins with the creation of an investment policy statement that outlines the client's time horizon, risk tolerance and investment targets. From there, advisors can figure out strategies that best meet the needs of clients.
Because each client's goals and needs are different, the structure of each portfolio and the investments contained in each portfolio may differ slightly or significantly. The firm focuses on developing an effective asset allocation strategy with a particular focus on risk management.
Columbia Pacific Wealth Management
Columbia Pacific Wealth Management (CPWM) is the next firm on our list. The firm has both certified financial planners (CFPs), chartered financial analysts (CFAs) and certified public accountants (CPAs) on staff. For any NFL players searching for a Seattle-based financial advisor, this firm has an NFL Players Association (NFLPA) Registered Financial Advisor.
Columbia Pacific Wealth typically imposes a $5 million minimum family account size, though this requirement is waivable. While it mainly serves individual clients, the firm also serves corporate pension and profit-sharing plans, defined contribution plans, institutions, foundations and endowments. Accounts are managed on a discretionary or non-discretionary basis.
Columbia Pacific Wealth Management Background
Though formed in 2011, Columbia Pacific Wealth can trace its roots back to 1989, when Dan Baty founded parent company and private equity firm Columbia Pacific Management. Baty serves as chairman and owns the firm along with several other employees.
Columbia Pacific Wealth offers investment management services, for which its charges are on a fee basis. Advisors who are representatives of a registered broker or are insurance agents may receive commissions in their other capacities. Also, some members of Columbia Pacific Wealth have an ownership interest in an insurance company that employees may recommend. The firm also provides tax and wealth transfer services, multi-generational planning, risk management, employer benefits and philanthropic planning. Additionally, it serves as an advisor to several private funds.
Columbia Pacific Wealth Management Investing Strategy
Columbia Pacific Wealth uses a manager-of-manager approach, where it determines asset allocation, which it considers the key driver of returns, while specialized, third-party investment managers conduct sector and security selection. The firm selects managers, both active and passive, using quantitative and qualitative analysis.
Aiming to construct globally diversified portfolios, the practice primarily invests client assets in exchange-traded funds, mutual funds, separately managed accounts and limited partnerships. It may also use individual stocks and bonds when appropriate. The firm claims to have access to unique investment opportunities, including dimensional fund advisors, SNW asset management, global endowment management, real estate investing and private lending.
Coldstream Wealth Management
This financial advisor firm is based in Bellevue. Its team of advisors includes certified financial planners (CFPs), chartered financial analysts (CFAs) and certified public accountants (CPAs). Other certifications include accredited estate planner (AEP) and chartered life underwriter (CLU).
Coldstream Wealth’s client base consists of both high-net-worth and non-high-net-worth individuals. The practice specifies corporate executives, business owners, multi-generational families and professional athletes as clients. It also provides services to businesses, charitable organizations, pension and profit-sharing plans and investment companies. There is a $2 million account minimum.
Coldstream Wealth Management Background
In business since 1996 (though under the name Coldstream Capital Management), Coldstream Wealth takes the Coldstream part of its name from a British regiment that was known for its integrity and dedication. Currently, only employees and board members are the owners.
The firm is unusual in that it assigns a team to manage each client portfolio. Each team includes a relationship manager, portfolio manager, private client services associate, wealth planner, private client services administrator and chief investment officer (and investment strategy group). As one might surmise, the team provides a full range of wealth management services. It also offers financial planning and consulting.
Investment advisory services are on a fee basis. Advisors who are representatives of brokers or insurance agents may receive commissions in their separate capacities.
Additionally, Coldstream Wealth is the general partner for several private funds, including hedge fund Alternative Strategies Fund LP, and Genesee Investments LLC and real estate lending partnership Ascent Capital LLC.
Coldstream Wealth Management Investing Strategy
In reviewing securities, the firm applies fundamental, technical and cyclical methods of analysis. It combines its internal expertise with external portfolio management in global equity, global fixed income, and alternative investment strategies. When constructing client portfolios, it may allocate assets to domestic, international and emerging markets; a range of equity capitalizations, from large- to small-cap stocks; a full range of fixed income instruments; alternative investments, including hedge fund strategies, private equity, venture capital and leveraged buyouts; and tangible assets, including public and private real estate, commodities and other natural resources.
Badgley Phelps Wealth Managers
Founded in 1966, Badgley Phelps Wealth Managers is the oldest firm on the list. This fee-only firm manages billions in assets mostly on a discretionary basis. Its team has chartered financial advisors (CFAs), certified financial planners (CFPs) and chartered investment counselors (CICs) on staff, among other certifications.
To be a client of the firm, which primarily serves high-net-worth individuals, you’ll generally need at least $1 million. (The minimum may be waived under special circumstances.) The practice also serves trusts, estates, corporations, pension and profit-sharing plans, charitable institutions, foundations and endowments.
Badgley Phelps Wealth Managers Background
Badgley Phelps Wealth has been completely employee-owned since its founding. The firm currently has a solid group of employees, and several of those employees are shareholders. Badgley Phelps Chairman Kevin Callaghan and President and Chief Investment Officer Steven Phelps own the biggest stakes.
The firm provides an array of wealth management-related services, including wealth transfer planning, asset protection, investment management, cash flow planning, college planning, retirement planning, estate planning, tax planning, foundation management, risk management, legacy planning, philanthropic planning and investment policy development.
Badgley Phelps Wealth Management Investment Strategy
When it comes to equity securities, Badgley Phelps Wealth has four investment strategies: consistent growth, relative value, small and mid cap and international. Both the consistent growth equity strategy and the relative value equity strategy generally hold between 30 to 40 stock positions, and the Russell 1000 Growth Index serves as their relative benchmark. The small and mid cap strategy and the international strategy use exchange-traded funds (ETFs). The former may also utilize mutual funds and other investments.
The firm also employs fixed income and alternative investment management.
Empirical Wealth Management
Next on our list of the top financial advisory firms in the state of Washington is Empirical Wealth Management, a large firm that works primarily with individual clients. Of these individuals, about two-thirds are individuals with a high net worth. The firm also works with institutional clients. Most of these institutions are corporations and business, but a handful are pooled investment vehicles, pensions, profit sharing plans, charities and state and municipal governments.
Empirical is a fee-based firm, since some of its advisors are also registered as insurance agents and may receive commissions from selling insurance products to clients. However, despite this potential for a conflict of interest, the firm is still a fiduciary. That makes it legally obligated to act in the best interests of clients at all times.
Empirical Wealth Management Background
Empirical Wealth Management has been in business since its founding in 2009. It's actually one of the youngest firms on our list. At first it was registered at the state level, but it became an SEC registered investment advisor in 2011. Kenneth Smith is the firm's founder, and the firm was originally a spinoff of another Oregon-based firm of the same name. However, Smith merged the companies together in 2012. Ethan Broga, Lorne Enquist, Michael Kelly, Shan Zubair, James Jones II and Simon Liu are all Empirical employees who own part of the firm.
Empirical offers investment advisory services and financial planning services to clients, along with tax preparation and insurance assistance. It also offers estate planning and other financial consulting services.
Empirical Wealth Management Investment Strategy
Empirical Wealth Management provides clients with a wide array of investment management options that are designed to help every investor meet their financial goals and investment objectives. Strategies may range from conservative to aggressive so that every type of risk tolerance is covered. Advisors still work with clients to develop a tailored portfolio and asset allocation strategy that works for them.
Empirical and its advisors generally take a long-term approach to investing. Ultimately, the strategy will depend on the client's goals. The firm's overarching investment philosophy is based on modern portfolio theory.
Evergreen Capital Management
Evergreen Capital Management, LLC rounds out our list of Washington state's top financial advisor firms. This large, Bellevue-based firm works mainly with individual clients, and about 60% of those individuals have a high net worth. Other clients that the firm works with include non-high-net-worth individuals, pensions, profit sharing plans, corporations, businesses and a single pooled investment vehicle.
Evergreen is a fee-only firm, so you won't need to worry about conflicts of interest stemming from commission arrangements, as is the case at some other firms. The firm also typically requires an account size of $1 million, though minimums may be higher for some account or may be waived altogether in certain circumstances.
Evergreen Capital Management Background
Evergreen Capital Management was founded in 1983. It registered as an investment advisor with the SEC in the same year. In addition to its Bellevue office, it has an office in San Francisco. Each office has its own investment committee. The firm is independently owned and operated. Tyler Hay is the firm's chief investment officer. He is also a partner at the firm.
Evergreen provides clients with a handful of services, but they can be divided into four main cateogries. These categories are investment advisory services, robo-advisory services (Evervestment), financial consulting and financial planning.
Evergreen Capital Management Investment Strategy
Evergreen Capital Management's investment strategies are tailored to the needs of its clients. However, the firm does adhere to an overarching policy of what it calls dynamic asset allocation. By taking into account a client's risk tolerance, liquidity needs, time horizon and other factors, advisors believe they can determine a dynamic asset allocation approach that will work on an individualized level.
While advisors will choose whichever investments make sense for a given client's portfolio, they tend to mainly use exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and individual equities.