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The Financial Times 400 (see full listing below) is intended to provide a snapshot of the best financial advisers for the investors who use them. We assess advisers based on what investors care about and we use a quantifiable, objective methodology.
The Financial Times and Ignites Research, the FT’s sister company, contacted the largest US brokerages in autumn 2018 to obtain practice information and data for their top advisers across the US.
We asked for information on advisers with more than 10 years’ experience and that had $300m or more in assets under management. Such minimum criteria filtered out most advisers.
The FT then invited qualifying advisers out of this group — a list that totalled about 940 — to complete a short questionnaire that gave us more information about their practices.
We added that information to our own research on the candidates, including data from regulatory filings. The formula the FT uses to grade advisers is based on six broad factors and calculates a numeric score for each adviser. These factors are:
1. Assets under management can signal experience managing money and client trust.
2. AUM growth rate can be taken as a proxy for performance, asset retention and ability to generate new business.
3. Years of experience indicates experience managing assets in different economic and interest-rate environments.
4. Compliance record provides evidence of past client disputes. A string of complaints could signal problems.
5. Industry certifications (CFA, CFP, etc) demonstrate technical and industry knowledge and obtaining these designations shows a professional commitment to investment skills.
6. Online accessibility illustrates commitment to providing investors with easy access and transparent contact information.
Assets under management accounted for an average of 72 per cent of each adviser’s score. Also, AUM growth rate accounted for an average of 14 per cent. This year, to emphasise long-term client satisfaction, we used a three-year growth rate instead of the one- and two-year growth rates we used in the past.
Additionally, the FT places a cap on the number of advisers from any one state that roughly corresponds to the distribution of millionaires across the US.
We present the FT 400 as an elite group, not a competitive ranking. We acknowledge that ranking the industry’s top advisers from 1 to 400 would be a futile exercise, since each takes different approaches to their practice and has different specialisations.
The research was conducted on behalf of the Financial Times by Ignites Research, a Financial Times sister publication.
Please note, individual advisers’ coverage of client categories is indicated below by “X” marks in columns for particular segments served: retail; high net worth (clients for $1m-£10m in investable assets); ultra high net worth (clients with $10m or more in investable assets); and institutional
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