These Are the RIAs with the Highest Value Accounts

Ten of the top 25 RIAs ranked by account values were based in California or New York.


Illustration by RIA Intel

An RIA’s success is intrinsically tied to its AUM. For most RIAs, the more assets the firm manages, the higher its revenue. RIAs are often ranked by their total assets under management, but which firms have the highest-value accounts and what sets them apart?

SmartAsset, a financial advice platform, sought to answer this question in a new study.

The company analyzed data from nearly 5,800 RIA firms registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission and ranked them according to their average account balances.

“Examining RIAs with high average account values can give advisors a look into the various business models and approaches that are working for others. This can give advisors applicable insights and inspiration for their own practices, or help them identify underserved niches that may be successful in their own jurisdictions,” Jaclyn DeJohn, managing editor for economic analysis at SmartAsset, said in an email.

SmartAsset found that while RIAs from all over the U.S. made the top 100, 10 of the top 25 RIAs ranked by account values were based in California or New York. It also found that clients of the top 10 firms typically had discretionary accounts.

“With a lower average account value, it becomes more common to have non-discretionary AUM. Similarly, higher [ranked RIAs] typically had fewer total accounts that the wealth is spread across,” Dejohn said.

Firms on the list range from accounts numbering in the thousands to firms with just one client. Some firms managed money for large pensions or insurance companies, while others focused on individuals and families.

Of the top five RIAs, four firms had less than 10 accounts and each had an average account value of more than $753 million. Sammons Financial Group Asset Management, which manages assets for several insurance companies, corporations, and businesses, ranked number one. The RIA had an average account value of $930 million with seven client accounts and a total firm AUM of $6.5 billion.

MIO Partners, which is owned by McKinsey & Company, was ranked second. MIO Partners has $43 billion in AUM, across 54 accounts with an average account size of $810 million. Comparatively, HH Capital Management, which ranked third, had just one account with $793 million in assets.

“Business models are not one-size-fits-all, and success does not look the same. Just as when you make a plan for someone’s finances, you must look at the qualitative data behind that quantitative data to get the best understanding of what is or isn’t working for others,” said Dejohn. “An RIA with a relative handful of high-net-worth individuals can have competitive numbers with massive pooled funds.”

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