Fee-only RIA firms are growing at a healthy clip

There are many familiar names atop the InvestmentNews 2021 rankings of the largest fee-only advisory firms, but the broader business model continues to welcome newcomers at a rapid clip.

The total number of advisory firms with a fee-only model has risen to 2,663, according to an analysis of the latest data from the Securities and Exchange Commission. That’s up from 2,215 firms in 2019, an increase of 20%.

Fee-only firms analyzed by InvestmentNews have at least $100 million under management and are based in the United States. In addition, fee-only firms primarily serve individuals with investment management and financial advice, they do not employ representatives of a broker-dealer or insurance company, and they do not charge commissions.

Almost all (98%) of these firms charge fees based on a percentage of assets under management but may also charge fixed fees (73% of firms), hourly rates (60%) or performance-based fees (6%).

Not only is the fee-only business model attracting more firms, but the firms themselves are building larger books. While adviser head count lagged firm growth over the past two years, rising 18% to 18,716 advisers, and the median fee-only firm has employed only four advisers since 2019, total assets under management rose 42% to nearly $2.5 trillion over the two-year span. The median firm grew its assets 16% to $294 million.

While broad market performance has helped, fee-only firms have also grown organically. Since 2019, the number of accounts at these firms has risen 31% to more than 3.1 million. Over that time the average account balance has also nudged up from $724,000 to $784,000, an increase of 8%.

Although 2020 data is difficult to compare due to extreme market volatility and delays in regulatory filings, the year without offices may have encouraged advisers to take up the business model and the independence that often comes with it.

According to Echelon Partners, there were 537 RIA breakaways in 2020, down from a peak of 670 in 2019 but higher than any other year for which data were available. And although recruiting activity was slower overall during the year, the RIA channel led in net gains, rising 20% relative to 2019.

Growth in the RIA channel, particularly the strict fee-only model, stands in contrast to the broker-dealer landscape, which is consolidating. According to the latest data from industry self-regulator Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc., the number of registered broker-dealer firms dropped to 3,435, down from 4,455 at the start of the decade.

   Total Discretionary Nondiscretionary  
RankFirmPhone/WebsiteAssets ($M)AccountsAssets ($M)AccountsAssets ($M)AccountsEmployees
1Cambridge Associates
125 High Street
Boston, MA 02110-2112
617-457-7500
linkedin.com/company/6987
$238,536513 $35,007108 $203,529405 1,011
2Fisher Asset Management
5525 NW Fisher Creek Drive
Camas, WA 98607-9911
800-851-8845
retirewithfisher.com
$159,612 166,694 $159,612 166,694 $00 2,329
3Hall Capital Partners
One Maritime Plaza 6th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94111
415-288-0544
hallcapital.com
$48,055182 $19,35579 $28,699103172
4Silvercrest Asset Management Group 1330 Avenue of the Americas 38th Floor
New York, NY 10019-5400
212-649-0600
silvercrestgroup.com
$27,819 1,263 $20,650 1,238 $7,16925146
5Jasper Ridge Partners LP
201 Main Street Suite 1000
Fort Worth, TX 76102
817-333-0027
jasperridge.com
$27,48047 $27,09440$387792
6Moneta Group Investment Advisors, 100 South Brentwood Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63105
314-726-2300
monetagroup.com
$27,418 29,892 $13,836 8,090 $13,582 21,802370
7Comprehensive Financial Management
720 University Avenue Suite 200
Los Gatos, CA 95032-7606
408-358-3316 $22,75839 $22,75839$0033
8BBR Partners
55 East 52nd Street 18th Floor
New York, NY 10055
212-313-9870
linkedin.com/company/bbr-partners
$20,708 3,700 $18,071 3,600 $2,637100130
9Pathstone Family Office
10 Sterling Blvd Suite 402
Englewood, NJ 07631
201-944-7284
linkedin.com/company/pathstone-family-office
$19,598 11,457 $13,511 9,628 $6,087 1,829198
10Summit Rock Advisors
9 West 57th Street 12th Floor
New York, NY 10019
212-993-7150
summit-rock.com
$19,597172 $9,650127 $9,9474565
11Tiedemann Advisors, 520 Madison Avenue 26th Floor
New York, NY 10022
212-396-5900
linkedin.com/company/tiedemann-advisors
$18,415382 $14,005342 $4,41040126
12Bahl & Gaynor Inc.
255 East Fifth Street Suite 2700
Cincinnati, OH 45202
513-287-6100
twitter.com/bahlgaynor
$16,409 2,464 $15,554 2,388$8557629
13Jordan Park Group
100 Pine Street Suite 2600
San Francisco, CA 94111
415-417-3000
linkedin.com/company/jordanpark
$15,791 3,104 $15,791 3,104$0088
14Johnson Investment Counsel Inc.
3777 West Fork Road
Cincinnati, OH 45247
513-661-3100
johnsonmutualfunds.com
$15,525 12,097 $15,307 12,078$21819140
15Oxford Financial Group
11711 North Meridian Street Suite 600
Carmel, IN 46032
317-843-5678
ofgltd.com
$14,819 9,447 $6,339 4,177 $8,481 5,270117
16Boston Private Wealth One Federal Street 30th Floor
Boston, MA 02110
617-223-0200
instagram.com/bostonprivate_official
$14,428 13,951 $13,787 10,889$640 3,062144
17Aspiriant
11100 Santa Monica Blvd Suite 600
Los Angeles, CA 90025
310-806-4000
aspiriant.com
$13,905 9,137 $11,519 7,336 $2,386 1,801169
18Appleton Partners Inc.
One Post Office Square 20th Floor
Boston, MA 2109
617-338-0700
appletonpartners.com
$12,432 6,529 $12,432 6,529$0054
19Financial Counselors Inc.
5901 College Boulevard Suite 110
Overland Park, KS 66211
800-615-2536
fciadvisors.com
$12,404 12,717 $11,314 11,857 $1,09086065
20Cresset Asset Management
444 W. Lake Street Suite 4700
Chicago, IL 60606
312-429-2400
linkedin.com/company/cresset-capital
$11,677 6,091 $11,571 5,973$106118146
21IEQ Capital
950 Tower Lane Suite 1800
Foster City, CA 94404
650-581-9807
ieqcapital.com
$11,592784 $11,247773$3451171
22EP Wealth Advisors
21515 Hawthorne Blvd Suite 1200
Torrance, CA 90503
310-543-4559
epwealth.com
$11,225 20,782 $10,911 20,413$314369160
23Wealthspire Advisors
521 Fifth Avenue 15th Floor
New York, NY 10175
212 973-1200
https://twitter.com/wealthspire
$10,943 3,337 $10,758 3,296$18541144
24Loring Wolcott & Coolidge Fiduciary Advisors LLP
230 Congress Street
Boston, MA 02110-2437
617-523-6531
sustainabilitygroup.com
$10,566 3,054 $10,500 3,039$661596
25W.E. Family Offices
701 Brickell Avenue Suite 2101
Miami, FL 33131
305-825-2225
linkedin.com/company/we-family-offices
$10,20186$00 $10,2018646
26Savant Capital
190 Buckley Drive
Rockford, IL 61107
815-227-0300
linkedin.com/company/savant-wealth-management
$9,591 6,580 $9,591 6,580$00205
27Fiduciary Counselling Inc.
2000 Wells Fargo Place 30 East 7th Street
St Paul, MN 55101-4930
651-228-0935 $9,116 1,608 $3,436 1,381 $5,68022776
28Homrich & Berg Inc.
3550 Lenox Road, NE Suite 2700
Atlanta, GA 30326
404-264-1400
linkedin.com/company/homrich-berg
$8,929 11,081 $7,819 10,893 $1,110188125
29Ballentine Partners
230 Third Ave Suite 6
Waltham, MA 02451
781-314-1300 $8,673 4,673 $6,390 2,763 $2,283 1,91085
31Brighton Jones
2030 1st Avenue 3rd Floor
Seattle, WA 98121
206-258-5000
facebook.com/brighton-jones-106255223161
$8,443 2,272 $8,355 2,267$885150
32Mill Creek Capital Advisors
161 Washington Street Suite 1500
Conshohocken, PA 19428
610-941-7700
millcreekcap.com
$8,051355 $7,469345$5821035
33Evoke Wealth
10635 Santa Monica Blvd. Suite 240
Los Angeles, CA 90025
424-372-1777
evokeadvisors.com
$7,704 1,774 $7,653 1,753$512134
34Lido Advisors
1875 Century Park East Suite 950
Los Angeles, CA 90067
310-278-8232
linkedin.com/company/126294
$7,692 8,225 $7,270 8,013$42321283
35CV Advisors
19495 Biscayne Boulevard Suite PH1
Aventura, FL 33180
305-358-5990
cv-advisors.com
$7,661 1,124$643141 $7,01898347
36Ferguson Wellman Capital Management, Inc.
888 SW 5th Ave Ste 1200
Portland, OR 97204
503-226-1444
twitter.com/fergusonwellman
$6,855 3,341 $6,855 3,341$0049
37Pinnacle Associates Ltd.
335 Madison Avenue Suite 1100
New York, NY 10017
212-652-3200
pinnacleinsights.org
$6,658 4,604 $6,658 4,604$0058
38Wetherby Asset Management
580 California St. Eighth Floor
San Francisco, CA 94104
415-399-9159
wetherby.com
$6,572 3,865 $6,127 3,759$44510670
39Churchill Management Corp
5900 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 400
Los Angeles, CA 90036
323-937-7110
twitter.com/churchill1963
$6,567 17,431 $6,450 16,597$11783457
40Adviser Investments
85 Wells Avenue Suite 109
Newton, MA 02459
617-321-2200
linkedin.com/in/jeff-demaso-cfa-702a904
$6,541 10,767 $6,541 10,767$0093
41Seven Bridges Advisors
9 West 57th Street 29th Floor
New York, NY 10019
212-490-6320
sevenbridgesadvisors.com
$6,407151 $2,74926 $3,65812525
42Valeo Financial Advisors
10 W. Carmel Dr Ste 400
Carmel, IN 46032-3357
317.218.6000
twitter.com/valeofinancial
$6,392 12,928 $4,869 8,845 $1,522 4,08399
43Frontier Asset Management
50 East Loucks Street Suite 201
Sheridan, WY 82801
307-673-5675
frontierasset.com
$6,348 4,331 $1,584 4,159 $4,76417243
44Ropes Wealth Advisors Prudential Tower 800 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02199-3600
617-235-4260
ropeswealthadvisors.com
$6,331 2,986 $6,192 2,945$1394133
45East End Advisors
610 Fifth Avenue 5th Floor
New York, NY 10020
212-218-8137 $6,29736 $1,06118 $5,2361817
46The Bollard Group
One Joy Street
Boston, MA 02108
617-720-5800
spincap.com
$6,101707 $5,891655$2105233
47Seven Post Investment Office
One Montgomery Street Suite 3150
San Francisco, CA 94104-4505
415-341-9300
sevenpost.com
$6,066179 $5,738169$3281019
48Brownson Rehmus & Foxworth Inc.
200 S. Wacker Drive Suite 2300
Chicago, IL 60606-5864
312-346-5850
brfadvisors.com
$6,025 2,520$00 $6,025 2,52042
49Altair Advisers
303 W. Madison St. Suite 600
Chicago, IL 60606
312-429-3000
altairadvisers.com
$6,024748 $1,856406 $4,16834253
50Choate Investment Advisors
Two International Place Suite 3000
Boston, MA 02110
617-973-4900
https://twitter.com/choateia
$5,741 2,382 $5,078 2,226$66315614

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The post Fee-only RIA firms are growing at a healthy clip appeared first on InvestmentNews.

As our second lead editor, Cindy Hamilton covers health, fitness and other wellness topics. She is also instrumental in making sure the content on the site is clear and accurate for our readers. Cindy received a BA and an MA from NYU.

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