If you're looking for a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) but don't know where to start, look no further. The Wall Street Journal releases a list of the Top 40 wealth management firms annually. These rankings are based on U.S high-net-worth private-client assets under management (AUM) in accounts worth over $5 million. 

1. Bank of America Global Wealth & Investment Management

The Bank of America Corp. (BAC) wealth management division is ranked number one on this list with $1.25 trillion in AUM. One reason that Bank of America is ranked so high is because it acquired Merrill Lynch in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crises.

The Global Wealth & Investment Management division focuses on two types of clients: people with over $250,000 in total investable assets and high net worth individuals for whom Bank of America can provide comprehensive wealth management solutions. It has almost 19,500 wealth managers in over 750 branches. In FY 2017, Bank of America's Global Wealth & Investment Management division had a net income of $3.1 billion.

Bank of America’s Global Wealth & Investment Management is a combination of Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management and US Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management.

2. Morgan Stanley Wealth Management 

Morgan Stanley (MS) ranks second on this list with $1.1 trillion in AUM. It has over 15,500 wealth managers in almost 600 branches. In FY 2017, net revenues rose 10% from 2016. Both its asset management and net interest income revenues increased, which can help explain the firm's growth. Net income was 2.3 billion in 2017, an increase of 11% from the prior year. 

3. J.P. Morgan Private Bank

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) is the third largest wealth management firm with $677 billion in AUM. Its wealth management division has over 1,200 wealth managers in only 47 branch offices. In FY 2017, J.P. Morgan Private Bank brought in $12.9 billion in net revenue, up 7.2% from 2016, while net income reached $2.3 billion, up 4% from the previous year.

4. UBS Wealth Management 

Coming in fourth on the Wall Street Journal's Top 40 wealth management firms is UBS Group AG (UBS) with $579 billion in AUM. It has over 7,100 wealth managers in 208 U.S. branch offices. As UBS is not an American company, it files a 20-F instead of a 10-K. According to that report, in FY 2017, UBS had an operating income of $8.5 billion, an 8.1% increase from the prior year. 

5. Wells Fargo

Falling right behind UBS is Wells Fargo & Company (WFC) with $564 billion in AUM. The firm has over 15,000 wealth managers in 1,510 branches. In FY 2017, total revenue was $17.1 billion, up 4.9% from 2016, while net income rose 7.7% over the same period.  

6. The Vanguard Group

At number 6 is The Vanguard Group with $335 billion in AUM. Vanguard is different from the other wealth management firms on this list as it is client owned, as opposed to publicly traded or privately owned. As a result, Vanguard is able to focus more on clients while offering them a plethora of investment opportunities such as low-cost mutual funds, ETFs, advice, and other related services. 

7. Charles Schwab

With $315 billion in AUM, Charles Schwab Corporation (SCHW) places 7th on the Wall Street Journal's Top 40 wealth management firms. Charles Schwab employs 3,100 wealth managers and has 335 U.S. branch offices. Under Charles Schwab's current structure, wealth management falls under the umbrella of Investor Services.

In 2017, total net revenue increased by 14.6% from the prior year. This growth is in large part due to increases in asset management and administration fees. 

8. Goldman Sachs

The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (GS) is the eighth-largest wealth management fund with $283 billion in AUM. It has just over 500 wealth managers operating in 13 branches. Goldman Sachs requires a minimum of $10 million in accounts.

Like Charles Schwab, Goldman Sachs reports its wealth advisory services under an overarching segment: Investment Management. In FY 2017, Goldman Sachs reported net revenues of $5.8 billion, which is an increase of 7.3% from 2016. 

9. Fidelity

Fidelity Investments ranks ninth on this list, with $260 billion in AUM. It has about 1,850 wealth managers in almost 200 offices. Fidelity has two types of wealth services: Wealth Management, which requires a minimum investment of $250,000, and Private Wealth Management, which requires a minimum investment of $2 million. 

Key Takeaways

  • High-net-worth individuals often seek a professional investment advisor to manage their money.
  • While size isn't everything, firms that attract a large amount of assets signal that they have an affluent clientele.
  • Here we rank the top 10 investment management firms by assets and net income from 2017.

10. BNY Mellon Wealth Management

Rounding out the top ten is The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation (BK) with $240 billion in AUM. It has over 850 wealth managers in 38 branches. The firm requires a minimum investment of $2 million. In FY 2017, BNY Mellon Wealth Management's revenue was $687 million—a 7% increase over the past year.