Houston, Texas, one of the major metropolitan areas in the United States, has no shortage of financial advisors. But which ones are worth the money? Since hiring a financial planner can be a major expense, you want to pick the right match.
I looked for financial advisors who have a solid reputation for putting their clients’ interests first, and who value building a long-term relationship with clients (think from your twenties and thirties until your retirement). Here’s who made the grade.
Overview of the best financial advisors in Houston
Linscomb & Williams
- Contact – (713) 840-1000.
- Services offered – Investment management, tax savings, retirement preparation, business and solo entrepreneurial consulting, sstate planning, wealth management, and more.
- Asset requirements – Clients need at least $1 million in investable assets. This is a pretty high bar to entry, but the firm claims a diverse group of clients, including individuals without a high net worth.
- Typical fees – A fee-only firm, You’ll pay a 1% annual all-inclusive fee for accounts with assets under $2 million. (If you hit $2 million and above, your fee drops to a smaller percentage.)
With over 40 years’ experience, Linscomb & Williams is one of the most well-respected firms in Houston. It has satellite locations in Austin and Fredericksburg, Texas, as well as three offices in Alabama.
Their staff boasts 23 financial advisors, including several who specialize in wealth management.
Like all the firms on this list, Linscomb & Williams is a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Chilton Capital Management
- Contact – (713) 650-1995.
- Services offered – Investment management, financial planning (including online ePath tool and wealth organization), estate planning.
- Asset requirements – There’s no minimum asset requirement, but there is an account minimum of $375,000.
- Typical fees – Chilton is a fee-only firm charging an annual 1% of managed assets (for accounts under $4 million) and taking no commissions.
Chilton Capital Management has offered financial literacy, planning, and investment services since 1996. Best of all, clients don’t have to be literal millionaires: Chilton Capital is the rare fee-only firm with no minimum assets required.
The small but very well-credentialed staff includes three CFPs and seven chartered financial analysts (CFAs). Vice President Michael J. Stavar is a certified public accountant (CPA).
- Contact – (713) 748-7000 or email@example.com.
- Services offered – Financial planning, tax planning, specializes in unusual tax situations.
- Asset requirements – A preferred $1 million account minimum, including assets.
- Typical fees – Fee-only firm, $3,500 initial planning fee (waived if you sign on as a client), Fees start at 1.25% for the first $500,000 and drop to 1% for the next $500,000. Hourly rates for consultations ranging from $150-$350 an hour.
Established in 1999, Horizon Advisors works with partner CPA accounting firm Maddox Thomson & Associates to meet all your planning and tax needs.
They’re known for a personal approach with a low 1:54 advisor to client ratio (many advisors at other firms see hundreds of clients).
You’ll work with well-practiced advisors — two of whom, including firm president Larry Maddox, are CFPs. Other Horizon Advisors staff members boast CPA and chartered financial analyst (CFA) credentials.
Tanglewood Total Wealth Management
- Contact – (713) 840-8880.
- Services offered – Wealth management plan, which covers everything from the basics — retirement, asset protection, taxes, college funds if you need them — to small business financing and long-term disability risk management.
- Asset requirements – $2 million ($3 million for those who want portfolio management without financial advice).
- Typical fees – 0.60% annually for the first $3,000,000 and 0.35% for the next $17,000,000. The minimum annual fee is around $12,000.
Tanglewood Total Wealth Management describes their clientele as the “quietly wealthy.” If you own a business, have an inheritance to manage, have a lucrative career, or are otherwise negotiating “more money, more problems” Tanglewood has you in mind. With a hefty $2 million account minimum, Tanglewood is best for people further along on their journey to building wealth.
The staff includes six CFPs and one CFA. President John Merrill, a veteran CFP, is also known as a leader among Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs).
The Financial Advisory Group, Inc.
- Contact – (713) 627-7660 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Services offered – Risk-level assessment, tax planning, wealth management.
- Asset requirements – Typical client has $1M+, but no hard set minimum.
- Typical fees – Fee-only, Minimum annual charge of $5,000 — more than 2.5% of investable assets for clients with balances under $200,000.
The Financial Advisory Group, Inc. has been around since 1997. It’s on the smaller side, which isn’t a bad thing — fewer clients mean advisors can spend more time customizing your plan. Both the chairman and CEO are registered with the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, as are most of the advisors on staff.
The Financial Advisory Group’s advisor qualifications include four CFPs, two CPAs, one CFP (Certified Financial Planner), and one JD (juris doctor, a law degree). You can expect expertise in accounting and law as well as finance and investment, though the Financial Advisory Group emphasizes it isn’t a formal CPA or legal firm.
Goff Financial Group
- Contact – (713) 850-8900.
- Services offered – Investment planning, retirement planning, wealth management.
- Asset requirements – Investors need a minimum of $500,000 to $1 million in assets.
- Typical fees – For investment management, you’ll pay 1.25% on the first $2 million in assets, then 1% on the next $3 million. The minimum annual fee is $5,000 regardless of account size.
The Goff Financial Group emphasizes “value investing.” Founded in 1994, they’re fairly new on the scene but they’ve already won a Better Business Bureau award for excellence.
Senior management at Goff includes a Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA) and a CFP. Founder Matthew Goff is a NAPFA-registered financial advisor. The firm is also a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) with a fiduciary responsibility to clients.
Financial Synergies Wealth Advisors
- Contact – 713-623-6600 or email@example.com.
- Services offered – Investment planning, retirement planning, budget planning, insurance planning.
- Asset requirements – Requires $1 million in assets. Clients using the Pathway program only need $50,000 (not including a company retirement plan if they have one).
- Typical fees – Fee-only, Pathway clients pay a modest $79 per month for accounts under $100,000, clients with over $100,000 in assets pay a percentage of their assets: 0.95% up to the first $1 million. Clients with higher starting balances will pay between 0.75% to 1.50% of total assets.
Financial Synergies Wealth Advisors is one company that welcomes younger investors, whether they’re maintaining individual accounts or building wealth for their families. The firm also specializes in working with professionals in the oil and gas industries, both booming in Houston.
It’s been recognized for excellent wealth management by the Financial Times and the Houston Business Journal.
Each financial advisor on staff is a CFP. The firm also has a certified divorce financial analyst (CDFA) and certified fund specialist (CFS) for those who need specialized plans. Individual advisors maintain NAPFA registrations in good standing.
Summary of the best advisors in Houston
|Firm||Services offered||Primary clientele|
|Linscomb & Williams||Investment management, tax savings, retirement preparation, business and solo entrepreneurial consulting, estate planning, wealth management, and more.||Young people just starting their high-earning careers and those with modest assets.|
|Chilton Capital Management||Investment management, financial planning (including online ePath tool and wealth organization), estate planning.||Those looking to start their financial journey on strong footing, young people without a lot of assets.|
|Horizon Advisors||Financial planning, tax planning, specializes in unusual tax situations.||Those searching for a more personal experience and people with reasonable assets.|
|Tanglewood Total Wealth Management||Wealth management plan, which covers everything from the basics — retirement, asset protection, taxes, college funds if you need them — to small business financing and long-term disability risk management.||High-earners searching for help with all aspects of their finances.|
|The Financial Advisory Group, Inc.||Risk-level assessment, tax planning, wealth management.||Young people searching for a financial advisor who is well rounded and has the time to get personal.|
|Goff Financial Group||Investment planning, retirement planning, wealth management.||Investors who are looking to grow $1M+ in assets.|
|Financial Synergies Wealth Advisors||Investment planning, retirement planning, budget planning, insurance planning.||Young professionals who don’t have a lot of assets, but want to learn how to grow them.|
How I came up with this list
Out of hundreds of financial advisory firms in Houston, these firms stood out because of their solid reputations and reviews. They also hit a few key benchmarks you should look for in any advisor.
They’re Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs)
At a minimum, I wanted to pick firms that are Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs) with professionals who are Investment Advisor Representatives (IARs). All RIA firms are financial fiduciaries, which means their advisors are legally obligated to act in your best interest rather than their own.
Fee-only advisors earn nothing but the money clients pay them. These costs might be an hourly rate, a flat fee, or a percentage (usually between 1% and 2%) of your managed assets. They don’t get commissions or financial incentives for recommending certain investment products.
This is the kind of advisor you want — since they don’t have conflicts of interest, their only motivation is to make the best decisions for you. A firm that also operates as an attorney or insurance broker, or earns commissions by selling products and services, might steer clients towards choices that would increase the firm’s profits.
Their advisors have top credentials
The most common individual credential is Certified Financial Planner (CFP) which requires specific economic education, three years’ experience, and continuing education every two years as the industry changes. A Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), another common designation, needs four years’ experience making investment decisions.
A NAPFA membership is also a good sign since NAPFA has strict ongoing regulations and all their advisors are fee-only.
They’re trusted by industry insiders
The financial advisory industry is heavily regulated; clients trust advisors to handle their life savings, so they need the most qualified people on the job.
Aside from reading objective reviews, I looked up each firm and its principal staff members on a few watchdog sites: the Investment Advisor Public Disclosure database run by the SEC, and the independent search engine investor.com. Both sites screen for possible conflicts of interest and track whether an advisor has any disclosures, or complaints, on their record.
What questions should you ask a financial advisor?
Who are your typical clients?
You want a skilled advisor, and just as importantly, you want a good match. I wanted to find firms that will work with young professionals despite the high financial bar to entry. If a firm’s clientele is mostly mid-career executives and people ready for retirement, they may not be the best fit for a recent college grad starting to save for retirement.
How do you usually communicate with clients, and how often?
Maybe you’re content with quarterly reports on your investments and annual check-ins. Or maybe you want an advisor available by email or phone whenever you have a question. Get a sense of how regularly your planner will be available outside of any scheduled chats.
What’s your investment philosophy? What asset allocation do you use?
A good advisor will have a clear answer, including their plan to diversify your portfolio and increase returns.
How are you compensated? Do you collect any commissions for investment products?
Your advisor should be compensated with fees only, not commissions. Otherwise, they may guide you towards investment choices that will earn them money or boost their sales.
Who has custody of my assets?
Reputable financial advisors don’t actually have contact with your assets. Instead, they’ll trust client assets to a “custodian”—a larger brokerage, often a big name like Charles Schwab or Fidelity.
What are the costs of hiring a financial advisor?
Almost all advisors offer an initial free consultation (in-person or via phone) where you’ll discuss what you’re looking for.
If you decide to work together, your annual fee will most likely be a percentage of your assets under the firm’s management. A charge between 1% and 2% of total assets is the industry standard. For instance, if your advisor charges a 1% fee and you entrust $500,000 in assets to the firm, your fee is $5000 a year or around $417 a month. As your assets climb higher, you’ll pay a smaller percentage.
Some firms charge an hourly rate instead of an asset-based rate for working with advisors, usually between $200 and $500 an hour.
Whether you’re exploring the idea of hiring a financial planner in Houston or you’re ready to commit, use this list as a jumping-off point. Non-Texas residents should give these firms a look too, since many are licensed or have offices in other states.