Recognition Disclosures

CNBC — Top 100 Fee-Only Wealth Management Firms

The CNBC Digital editorial team, along with Meridian-IQ, created the following ranking methodology for its Top 100 Fee-Only Wealth Management Firms rankings. Scores for each measure listed below were weighted according to a proprietary formula to arrive at a final total rank:

  • Assets under management (AUM)
  • Having staff with professional designations
  • Working with third-party professionals
  • Average account size
  • Growth of assets
  • Years in business
  • Number of advisory clients
  • Providing advice on insurance solutions

Firms with greater AUM totals were given a higher ranking in the case of numerical ties of the above formula. The Meridian/ Advice IQ team then applied the formula to the Meridian-IQ database of all registered investment advisers (RIAs) to create the list. The final step to create the Top 100 Fee-Only Wealth Management Firms list for CNBC.com was to apply the AdviceIQ Regulatory Compliance Review (RCR) process to the master list and eliminate any firm that failed the RCR process.

The RCR process is a due-diligence process whereby each advisory firm was compared with the RCR database of all regulatory actions from all four primary regulators: SEC, FINRA, state regulators and state insurance commissioners. In order to pass the RCR process, an advisory firm cannot have any complaints, actions or disclosures from any of the above regulators.

While CNBC has categorized Raffa Wealth Management as a “Fee Only” Wealth Management firm, CNBC’s use of the term “Fee Only” does not match the CFP Board’s definition of the term. Raffa Wealth Management’s owners and affiliates include CFP® professionals that are licensed insurance agents receiving insurance commissions and are not deemed “Fee Only” by the CFP Board.  In addition, RWM has an owner that is affiliated with a broker/dealer and that owner, Steve Heger, accepts commissions as compensation.  Furthermore, two of RWM’s owner, Dennis Gogarty and Steve Heger, are licensed insurance agents and receive commissions as compensation.  So while RWM’s sole source of compensation is the advisory feel billed directly to clients, RWM’s owners receive commissions related to other business activities and therefore these owners and RWM may not considered “Fee only” by the SEC.  For more information, download RWM’s disclosure brochure.

Accounting Today – Wealth Magnets: The Top 150 Firms by AUM

Notes from the publisher: For our eleventh annual ranking of CPA firms by assets under management, we received submissions from over 200 firms. Such a large number of firms means, among other things, wide diversity in practice structure and in the information submitted.

In most cases, firm names are those of the financial planning subsidiary, not the affiliated CPA firm.

Firms have reported either their overall chief executive, or the leader of the planning practice. For simplicity’s sake, we have listed both under “chief executive,” though many bear different titles. In cases where a leader was not identified, we identified the leader of the planning practice from public sources (usually the firm’s Web site).

Many firms gave a date for the AUM figure they submitted; these varied widely, from the date of submission to a recent quarter-end, but in no case was it earlier than year-end 2016.

In cases where a planning firm is a subsidiary of a larger CPA firm, reporting practice varies: Some report staff and office figures for just the subsidiary, some just for the overall CPA firm, and some for both. In cases where we had a choice, we published figures from just the planning subsidiary. In addition, while most of the chief executives listed lead the planning practice, in some cases firms reported the managing partner of the larger CPA firm.

Data provided by Audit Analytics, a premium online intelligence service that delivers audit, regulator and disclosure analysis to the accounting community. Reach them at (508) 476-7007, www.auditanalytics.com, or info@auditanalytics.com.

Centre for Fiduciary Excellence — CEFEX Certification

CEFEX certification provides an independent verification that an advisor has prudent fiduciary practices in place and a culture of excellence, supported by documented and structured processes. CEFEX certified firms voluntarily undertake annual audits by independent expert analysts. CEFEX assessment process is based on the international standard, ISO 19011: Guideline for quality management system auditing. The assessment is evidence-based, and all work is reviewed by the CEFEX Registration Committee to ensure impartiality and consistency. More information on CEFEX can be found at www.cefex.org.