Financial advisors should be able to offer multiple services: financial planning, retirement advice and asset management. Finding one that is proficient in all these areas is tough, especially if you want someone local, as – despite the rise of robo-advisors – many people do. For those living in the San Francisco environs, here are six of the best. All are independent firms working on a fee-only basis, which means they don't receive commissions or third-party compensation on any products they sell or invest clients' funds in.
Bell Investment Advisors
Based in Oakland, Calif., Bell Investment Advisors a fiduciary registered investment advisor. The firm has been in business for nearly 25 years, providing its clients with a long track record of success.
While the company offers basic services, such as investment management and financial planning, it has a unique value proposition that offers its clients life coaching services. Taking a holistic approach to client management, the company is an actively managed advisory and constantly monitors its clients' investments.
BOS (Bingham, Osborn and Scarborough)
BOS was founded in the 1980s as Bingham, Osborn and Scarborough. The company was one of the first to offer an integrated advisory model, which takes all aspects of an individual's financial situation into account to provide a customized service. The company is focused on advancing its value proposition it offers to its clients. One unique service: The BOS Foundation, a non-profit through which clients can open donor-advised accounts, managed by BOS, that yield charitable gift tax deductions.
Financial Connections has a track record of helping clients going back to 1987. The company started out in investment management, but it has since expanded its operations to offer financial planning and tax services. It has three offices throughout the Bay Area.
The company uses TD Ameritrade to hold all of its clients' assets in trust. The company's principals and key employees have received industry-recognized designations. Socially responsible investing is one of the firm's specialties.
Marin Wealth Advisors
As its name implies, Marin Wealth Advisors is based in Marin County (San Rafael, to be exact), but it services clients all over Napa and Sonoma counties and the greater San Francisco Bay Area.
Marin Wealth Advisors boasts a team of financial professionals that have a combined experience of over 80 years in the financial planning, advisory and investment management business. Similar to many fee-only firms, Marin charges clients a value-based asset fee for investment management services and an hourly fee for financial planning advice.
Morling Financial Advisors
Morling Financial Advisors is a boutique registered investment advisor that specializes in delivering comprehensive financial planning, investment advice and investment management services to clients throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. The company has deep roots in the region, with origins dating back to 1981.
Morling Financial Advisors has done a good job of continuously evolving. The company began as a tax and accounting firm, adding investment advice and financial planning in 1999, and then finally offering investment management services in 2007. The company uses TD Ameritrade and Charles Schwab as its custodians and for research and brokerage services.
Mosaic Financial Partners/Private Ocean
Mosaic Financial Partners was founded in 1987 as Boone & Associates. It is well-known for staying on the forefront of financial thought, being one of the first advisories to offer exchange-traded funds (ETFs), alternative investments and customized investment strategies to its clients. The firm uses a six-step planning process to give its clients a holistic view of their finances.
In October 2018, Mosaic became part of Private Ocean, a San Rafael-based financial advisory that itself was born out of a merger between two venerable San Francisco wealth management firms (one of which once employed Norman Boone, Mosaic's founder). While Mosaic retains its two original offices in San Francisco and Walnut Creek, it now operates under the Private Ocean name.