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 some of the top RIA firms in the U.S. for 2019.

Key Takeaways

  • Registered investment advisors (RIAs) can offer investors unbiased asset management services.
  • According to Barron's, the top five RIAs of 2019 include Edelman Financial Engines, Creative Planning, Private Advisor Group, Mariner Wealth Advisors, and Moneta Group Investment Advisors.
  • Although many of these firms cater mainly to high net worth clients and institutional investors, some of them also deal with clients in the middle or upper-middle class.

1. Edelman Financial Engines

Edelman Financial Engines, located in Sunnyvale, Calif., ranks no. 1 on Barron's list. This firm has over $200 billion in assets under management (AUM) and provides investment services, portfolio management, and personal finance education.

The firm has a team of 320 advisors who service 1.28 million 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.

2. Creative Planning

Creative Planning, based in Overland Park, Kan., ranked second on Barron's list. The company offers various services, including private wealth management, financial planning, and estate planning. The firm had almost $50 billion in AUM as of June 30, 2020.

3. Private Advisor Group

Private Advisor Group is based in Morristown, N.J., and has over 650 advisors across 38 states. The firm ranks third on Barron's list. The firm has $21 billion in AUM.

4. Mariner Wealth Advisors

Ranking fourth on Barron's list with over $31 billion in AUM, Mariner Wealth Advisors is headquartered in Kansas but has locations across the country, including Cincinnati, San Diego, New York City, Oklahoma City, Miami, Chicago, and Minneapolis.  

The company offers investment management, executive retirement services, estate planning, institutional consulting, risk management, and tax and bookkeeping services to its more than 17 thousand clients.

5. Moneta Group Investment Advisors

Moneta Group Investment Advisors comes in at no. 5 on Barron's list and manages over $20 billion for its clients. As with all of the RIAs on this list, the 130 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.

Moneta's 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 a business.

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.