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. 

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’s the most recent rank of the top 10 investment management firms by assets and net income. 

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 $1.35 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 over 20,000 wealth managers in over 750 branches. In 2018, Bank of America's Global Wealth & Investment Management division had a net income of $4.1 billion, up 33% from the previous year. 

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 $1.26 trillion in AUM. It has over 15,600 wealth managers in almost 600 branches. In 2018, net revenues rose 6%% from 2017 to $40.1 billion. Both its asset management and net interest income revenues increased, which can help explain the firm's growth. Net income was $8.9 billion in 2018, an increase of 44% from the prior year. 

3. J.P. Morgan Private Bank

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) is the third largest wealth management firm with $774 billion in AUM. Its wealth management division has over 1,300 wealth managers in only 48 branch offices. In 2018, assets for J.P. Morgan Private Bank was 28% of its total AUM. 

4. Wells Fargo

Falling right behind UBS is Wells Fargo & Company (WFC) with $604 billion in AUM. The firm has almost 15,000 wealth managers in 1,468 branches. In 2018, total revenue was $86.4 billion, a roughly 2% fall from the previous year. However, net income rose 1% to $22.4 billion for the same period.   

5. UBS Wealth Management 

Falling behind Wells Fargo is UBS, coming in fifth on the Wall Street Journal's Top 40 wealth management firms with $601 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, for fiscal 2018, UBS had an operating income of $30.2 billion, a 2% increase from the prior year. 

6. Charles Schwab

With $421 billion in AUM, Charles Schwab Corporation (SCHW) places sixth on the list. Charles Schwab employs over 2,000 wealth managers and has 345 U.S. branch offices. Under Charles Schwab's current structure, wealth management falls under the umbrella of Investor Services. In 2018, net revenue for investor services increased by 18% from the prior year. This growth is in large part due to increases in asset management and administration fees. 

7. The Vanguard Group

At no. 6 is Vanguard with $406 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. 

8. Fidelity

Fidelity Investments ranks eight on this list, with $400 billion in AUM. It has about 2,400 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. 

9. Goldman Sachs

The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (GS) is the eighth-largest wealth management fund with $300 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 2018, Goldman Sachs reported net revenues of $7 billion for this segment, which is an increase of 11% from the previous year. 

10. Northern Trust

Rounding out the top ten is Northern Trust (NTRS) with $260 billion in AUM. It has 680 wealth managers in 62 branches. The manager caters to ultra-high net worth individuals. In 2018, Northern Trust’s revenue hit $5.96 billion—an 11% increase over the past year.