One hundred firms make up AdvisorOne’s 2012 Top Wealth Managers, as measured by assets under management per client, with data as of 12/31/11.
Here we present a profile of the crème de la crème of the Top Wealth Managers—those 10 firms that topped the list in in our 2012 survey.
View the list of all 280 firms in our 2012 Top Wealth Managers survey.
Stanford T. Young founded Financial Clarity Inc. in 1992. Since then, he’s been in charge, as “sole principal and sole client interface,” so that “there’s no debate about who [clients are] going to be talking to next year.” That’s just one of the things, says Young, that makes his firm different. Another is the fact that his firm is nondiscretionary.
Young adds that his clients themselves are different. “We have a belief,” he says, “that it’s important for clients to be actively involved in the decision-making, and this fits the profile of our clients”—who are, he adds, typically highly sophisticated and successful investors who count among their ranks “company founders, senior executives, venture capitalists.”
As a result, fee-only Financial Clarity provides advice, when wanted—clients “understand that they don’t know everything about the business, so they need advice”—and handles the processes behind investing, while the hands-on approach to decision-making that its clients prefer is encouraged.
What Makes Financial Clarity Tick
Financial Clarity’s organic method of growth is a factor shared by most of its peers, as is open architecture, a reliance on fees rather than compensation by other means (brokerage fees, commissions, etc.) and a determination to place the client first.
Both client and asset bases are very stable, says Young, with the typical client having been with the firm for 10 years. In fact, the firm does not actively solicit new clients; space, he says, is limited due to the firm’s structure, so clients must have investable assets of $30 million—“actual … assets that we invest, not including a net worth or a balance sheet total.” With the bar set so high, it’s perhaps not surprising that, according to Young, “If we take on one or two a year, that’s a big deal.”
As sole principal, Young says that he has greater flexibility on behalf of his clients than larger firms with more decision-makers and, as a result, a more centralized process for decision-making. “Because I’m the sole principal and in charge of my own risk,” he says, “I can evaluate investments and approve them in a much more expeditious fashion.”