Registered investment advisory (RIA) firms can provide clients with truly unbiased asset management and financial planning services. This is because they are not affiliated with any third-party vendors such as banks, broker-dealers, insurance companies or other entities that might distort their objective approach by offering them compensation to sell their products or services.
According to data ranging from assets under management to size and experience of their advisor pools, Barron's magazine ranked these as the top RIA firms in the U.S. for 2018.
Edelman Financial Services – Located in Fairfax, Virginia, this firm has nearly $22.3 billion in assets under management (AUM) and provides investment services, portfolio management, and personal finance education. The firm has a team of 163 advisors who service over 37,000 clients. Its founder, Ric Edelman has been named the top independent financial advisor three times by Barron's. The firm's investment approach is based on academic research and behavioral finance.
United Capital Financial Advisers – This Newport Beach, California-based firm manages $21.5 billion for both retail and institutional clients. The 221 advisors at United Capital use a modern approach to financial planning and investment to allow its clients to enjoy living in the present instead of worrying about having enough money in retirement. The company's growth can be attributed to purchasing and partnering with other RIA firms, according to its founder, Joe Duran.
Mariner Wealth Advisors – With over $26 billion in AUM, this firm is headquartered in Kansas but has locations across the country, including Cincinnati, San Diego, New York City, Oklahoma City, Fort Lauderdale, Chicago and Minneapolis. The company offers investment management, executive retirement services, estate planning, institutional consulting, risk management and tax and bookkeeping services to its 14,890 clients.
Moneta Group Investment Advisors – The only firm from Missouri included in the top 10, Moneta Group manages approximately $18.5 billion for its clients. As with all of the RIAs on this list, the 95 advisors at this firm are fiduciaries, which means they are obligated to put their clients' needs before their own, and they are grouped into client service teams to give their clients a smaller-business feel. Their services include helping wealthy families transfer their wealth to their heirs and favorite causes, helping young high net worth individuals create a plan to hold onto their money and providing retirement consulting to business.
Silvercrest Asset Management Group – Headquartered in New York City, this firm has accumulated nearly $21.3 billion in AUM and has 27 advisors who work in offices in New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Virginia. The firm embraces the traditional client-centered service provided by banks in previous years while implementing modern theories to create diverse portfolios that fit its clients' investment goals and risk tolerance.
The Bottom Line
These are only some of the top wealth management firms in America. Although many of these firms cater mainly to high net worth clients and institutional investors in both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors, some of them also deal with clients in the middle or upper-middle class. Each of these firms has earned its place on this list by delivering sound advice and money management services that have allowed clients to grow their wealth and realize their dreams.