Stifel Advisor Review
Stifel is a financial advisory firm based in St. Louis, MO. This guide breaks down what you can expect from its planning and portfolio management services.
Stifel is a financial services and advisory firm based in St. Louis, Missouri. It’s registered as an investment advisor with the SEC and a broker-dealer with FINRA. It offers consulting, financial planning, and non-discretionary or discretionary investment management services to clients all over the country. In J.D. Power’s 2023 Financial Advisor Satisfaction study, Stifel took first place for the Employee Advisor category.
This guide will give you a detailed overview of what you can expect from Stifel’s advisory services. We’ll explain how much money you need for each service tier, as well as accompanying fee structures. You’ll also learn about key company information, including disclosures, how to open an account, and contact methods.
Types of Clients Stifel Serves
Stifel offers a combination of wrap-fee programs, financial planning, and non-wrap-fee investment management. Its financial planning services don’t include any account minimums, making them accessible for nearly every type of client. However, the firm’s investment management programs do carry account minimums, which break down as:
|Program Name||Minimum Investment|
|Opportunity and IMC Programs||$25,000 to $200,000|
|Custom Advisory Portfolio Programs||$50,000|
|Solutions and Horizon Programs||$25,000|
|Fundamentals Program||$5,000 to $100,000 or $10,000 for ETF programs|
|Connect Program||$25,000 to $100,000|
Be aware that, in addition to account minimums, you’ll also be responsible for paying ongoing advisory fees. These vary depending on the program you choose and the assets you have under management. Later in this article, we’ll explain how Stifel’s fee structure works.
Financial Advisor Services It Offers
As mentioned, Stifel provides financial planning and investment management services. The former gives clients the ability to sit down with an advisor to come up with a comprehensive financial plan that’s tailored to their situation and goals. With the latter, you receive access to a discretionary or non-discretionary portfolio management program, in which an advisor helps you select and monitor your investments.
Below is a full breakdown of what each service offers:
Fee-Based Financial Planning
Stifel’s financial planning service allows you to directly work with an advisor to create a personalized strategy for your money. This involves communicating your financial goals and details about your current situation to a professional, so that they may help you more effectively. Prepare to provide key information, including:
- Bank statements
- Employee benefits statements
- Insurance policies
- Pay stubs
- Tax returns
Additionally, the services you receive will depend on what you require. However, in general, you can expect assistance with planning the following aspects of your finances:
- Investments and asset allocation
- Your estate
Wrap Fee Investment Management
Stifel offers five major wrap-fee programs. These all focus heavily on investment management and come with a minimum contribution to open an account. In general, you’ll work with an advisor who’ll manage your portfolio in a discretionary or non-discretionary capacity. Here’s what each program includes:
- Opportunity affords you access to several independent or affiliated portfolios and managers. Once an advisor understands your risk tolerance, time horizon, and goals, they’ll help you select the right portfolio.
- Custom Advisory Portfolio (CAP) is a program that allows you to choose between a client-directed or advisor-directed arrangement. Then, an advisor will either recommend or make investments based on a client’s risk tolerance, time horizon, and goals.
- Solutions is a discretionary program that allows a qualified advisor to manage your account on your behalf. They will make investments and build your portfolio per your risk tolerance, time horizon, and goals.
- Horizon is a non-discretionary program in which an advisor recommends certain investments to you based on your risk tolerance, time frame, and goals. However, it will be up to you to follow this advice and buy securities they recommend.
- Fundamentals gives you the chance to choose one of several portfolios with the help of an advisor. Per Stifel, these portfolios leverage a combo of mutual funds, ETFs, and equities to balance risk and reward.
- Connect lets clients pick a discretionary investment manager with the help of an advisor. Keep in mind that the client and their investment manager enter into a separate investment advisory agreement.
Non-Wrap Fee Investment Management
The firm also offers investment management services that aren’t part of its wrap-fee program. Namely, these are Stifel Vantage and Summit. The former is a discretionary program in which an advisor will help you build and carry out a portfolio strategy. On the other hand, the latter assists clients who are trading through other non-affiliated firms or broker-dealers.
Like other firms, Stifel’s fee structure depends on the services you select. For its financial planning services, you’ll pay a fee of up to $5,000, depending on the services you require and the assets your advisor manages.
However, the firm’s investment management services follow a flat fee structure, in which all clients pay a percentage of your assets under management (AUM) of up to 2%, known as the Stifel Advisory Fee. You’ll also be responsible for paying an accompanying fee for the program you select. The table below outlines the percentages for each investment management program:
|Program Name||Fee Percentage|
|IMC Program||0.23% to 0.75%|
|Custom Advisory Portfolio Programs||0.10% to 0.50%|
|Manager-Traded Portfolios||0.10% to 0.85%|
|Connect Program||No product fee; however, your advisor will charge a separate fee that may vary depending on the services you receive.|
Stifel’s Investment Philosophy
The investment philosophy a Stifel advisor adheres to depends heavily on that of you, the client. As soon as you begin working with one of the firm’s professionals, they will seek to understand your goals, risk tolerance, and time horizon. Then, they’ll be able to point you toward the right service/program, and subsequently, the investments that make the most sense for you.
Additionally, some of Stifel’s programs, such as Opportunity or Fundamentals, allow you to select from pre-created portfolios. These typically favor investments such as mutual funds, ETFs, and equities, which promote proper asset allocation and diversification.
Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated is registered as an investment advisor with the SEC and a broker with FINRA. Because of this, it must report legal issues or proceedings as disclosures on its Form ADV, which, in turn, becomes publicly available for clients to see.
According to FINRA’s BrokerCheck, Stifel has 197 disclosures on file. 138 of these are regulatory events or actions against the firm. These typically refer to disciplinary or legal actions that the company or its representatives are involved in. While company-wide disclosures may be a concern, you should especially be aware of any that your specific advisor has on their record. You can use BrokerCheck or the SEC’s Investment Adviser Public Disclosure (IAPD) to look into this.
If you need to contact Stifel with any questions, you have a few different options to reach the company:
- Via its contact page
- By calling (314) 342-2000, (800) 488-0970 (toll-free), 6:00 am to 6:30 pm CT, Monday-Friday
- Through a local branch (you can find an advisor near you through the firm’s contact page)
How to Get Started with Stifel
To get started with Stifel, we recommend visiting the firm’s website to locate an advisor in your area. By doing so, you’ll be able to set up an initial consultation to discuss your financial goals and current situation. Then, your professional can point you toward the right program to help you hit your objectives.
Tips for Choosing a Financial Advisor Firm
Selecting the right financial advisor firm is an important and personal decision. For many, this is the company they’ll be working with for several years or even decades. It’s key to find a firm that has the services you need, whether it be financial planning, investment management, or wealth advice. You should also vet the professionals a firm has, as well as their qualifications. Look for common credentials like Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Certified Financial Planner (CFP), or Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) during your search.
You should also pay close attention to a firm’s account minimums and fee structure. Often, a company will require an initial contribution for its investment management, but not for financial planning. And fees can vary as well. Before selecting a firm, be sure it’s charging reasonable prices and that you’re able to meet its minimums.
If you’re having trouble narrowing your search for a financial advisor near you, consider using a free matching tool, like this one. It’ll ask you to fill out a short quiz. Then, you’ll be paired with up to three vetted professionals near you.
The information in this review is based on publicly available information directly from Stifel’s website, the SEC, and FINRA. Neither the firm nor its representatives have any say on what we’ve included on this page.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Stifel a good investment company?
Stifel has a wide variety of investment management services, including discretionary and non-discretionary services. Additionally, its professionals are bound by a fiduciary duty, which means they must act with your best interest in mind. Because of this, Stifel is a well-rounded option.
Is Stifel a fiduciary?
Stifel is a fiduciary because it’s registered with the SEC as an RIA. This means that the firm and any of its representatives giving investment advice must do so in your best interest and with a duty of care.
How much money do you need to invest with Stifel?
You’ll need at least $5,000 to invest in Stifel’s Fundamental portfolio management program. Other programs have higher barriers to entry that require as much as $200,000.
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