Modera Wealth Management Review 2022 - MagnifyMoney
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Modera Wealth Management Review 2022

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Modera Wealth Management is an East Coast-based wealth management firm that provides customized portfolios and wealth management services, mostly to high net worth individuals. Though the firm technically does not have an investment minimum, it notes that its strategies may work best for clients who have at least $2 million to invest, and its minimum fees may not be worth it for lower net worth individuals.

The bottom line: Modera Wealth Management is a New Jersey-based wealth management firm catering largely to high net worth clients, although there is no investment minimum.

  • Offers standalone financial planning services
  • Charges fees that may be high for clients with less than $2 million
  • Invests according to the tenets of Modern Portfolio Theory

All information included in this profile is accurate as of August 5, 2021. For more information, please consult Modera Wealth Management’s website.

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Overview of Modera Wealth Management

Modera Wealth Management’s origins date back to 1983, when Gary Greenbaum of Greenbaum & Associates established an early incarnation of the advisory firm. In 2010, Modera Wealth Management was formed. The firm has since merged with or acquired a number of other firms throughout the country. Today, Modera Capital Inc. is the firm’s majority owner, though Tria Asset Holdings A, LLC and a number of individuals also hold stakes.

Modera Wealth Management has over 80 employees across six offices. Of those employees, around 50 serve as investment advisors. Many of the firm’s staff members have earned designations such as certified financial planner (CFP), certified financial analyst (CFA) and certified public accountant (CPA) designations.

Modera Wealth Management’s pros

  • Highly credentialed staff: Most of Modera Wealth Management’s financial advisors are CFPs, meaning they’ve undergone rigorous training and must adhere to certain ethical guidelines. There are also advisors at the firm with a variety of other respected designations, including CPAs and CFAs, as well as employees who have earned MBAs and JDs.
  • Fee-only model: The firm does not earn commissions, instead only making money through the fees that its clients pay. This means that there is no conflict of interest when it recommends a product or refers clients to another service provider.
  • Personalized attention: Modera creates customized portfolios for its clients that take into account their individual financial situation. Each client has a dedicated team working with them that includes a lead advisor, support advisor and client service advisor.
  • Industry recognition and awards: The firm appeared for several years on The Financial Times’ list of the Top 300 RIA Firms. In September 2020, it ranked among Barron’s Top 100 RIAs. Additionally, the firm has received multiple awards for its role as an employer, appearing on Pension & Investments’ list of the “Best Places to Work in Money Management” for six years, and Investment News’ list of the “Best Places to Work for Financial Advisors.”

Modera Wealth Management’s cons

  • High fees for lower-balance investors: While the firm does not have a minimum investment balance, it states on its Form ADV that its services are meant for people with at least $2 million to invest. Clients with significantly less than that amount will pay much higher fees as a percentage of their assets under management, since the firm charges a minimum fee of $16,000 per year for portfolio management and $20,000 per year for wealth management.
  • Limited geographic footprint: Modera Wealth Management has six offices along the East Coast, from Massachusetts to Florida. That makes it an impractical choice for those who live further west and prefer an advisor with whom they can meet in person. However, for those comfortable with a long-distance relationship, Modera is registered to work with investors in 25 states.
  • Preferred brokers: Modera Wealth Management has relationships with Schwab, TD Ameritrade, Fidelity and National Advisors Trust, and it may recommend that clients choose these brokerages as their custodian. While the firm does not receive financial compensation for sending clients to those brokerages, clients may be able to purchase some investments at lower prices from a different firm.

What types of clients does Modera Wealth Management serve?

The majority of Modera’s clients are high net worth individuals. However, the firm also has hundreds of individual clients who are not classified as high net worth individuals, which the SEC defines as those with at least $750,000 under management or a net worth of $1.5 million. Modera’s website notes that it services the unique needs of clients who are business owners, corporate executives and medical or dental professionals. In addition, the firm notes that it addresses the needs of LGBTQ+ clients, surviving spouses, clients who are divorcing and clients with special needs and chronic illnesses.

There is technically no minimum account size requirement at Modera. Due to its minimum fee requirements for its services, however, working with Modera may be more accessible to those with larger portfolios. Additionally, the firm states that its services are designed for those with at least $2 million to invest.

Services offered by Modera Wealth Management

Modera Wealth Management splits its services into two broad categories: wealth management and portfolio management. Wealth management clients receive financial planning and consulting services, which can include business coaching or real estate services, along with discretionary- or non-discretionary asset management for all or a portion of their portfolio. For clients who have chosen discretionary management, the firm may make trades on their behalf without getting approval for individual transactions. Clients can also choose standalone financial planning services.

The firm also provides investment consulting and monitoring services on outside accounts held with other institutions to some existing clients, as well as retirement plan consulting and management services.

Here is a full list of the services offered by Modera Wealth Management:

  • Portfolio management
  • Wealth management
  • Financial planning and consulting services
    • Business planning
    • Investment planning
    • Insurance planning
    • Retirement planning
    • Education planning
    • Estate planning
    • Tax planning
    • Tax preparation
    • Cash flow forecasting
    • Life transition planning
    • Charitable giving
    • Wealth transfer strategies
    • Risk management
  • Real estate coaching
  • Investment consulting and monitoring services
  • Retirement plan consulting and management services
  • Collaboration with clients’ lawyers, accountants, etc.

How Modera Wealth Management invests your money

Modera Wealth Management makes investment decisions based on Modern Portfolio Theory, which holds the following tenets:

  • The markets do a fairly good job of pricing securities.
  • Diversification is essential.
  • Increased risk can create the potential for greater returns.

Modera works with each client to create a portfolio tailored to their financial situation that achieves the highest rate of return with the least amount of risk. The firm also focuses on minimizing taxes and keeping overall costs down.

The firm’s portfolios primarily include:

However, portfolios may also include the following:

  • Allocation to third-party independent managers
  • Commodities
  • Real estate
  • Currencies

For accredited investors that meet a certain net worth or income minimum, the firm may also recommend private investments, such as pooled investment vehicles that invest in securities including debt and equity.

Fees Modera Wealth Management charges for its services

Modera Wealth Management’s fee types and rates vary depending on which service a client receives.

Fees for wealth management and portfolio management: For wealth management, the firm typically charges between 0.15% to 1.00% of assets under management, with a minimum quarterly fee of $5,000. The typical fee for portfolio management services is 0.10% to 0.80% of assets under management, with a minimum quarterly fee of $4,000.

Clients may also have to pay transaction costs, commissions or other fees to third-party financial institutions if their portfolio includes such investments.

Fees for financial planning: Financial planning costs are included in wealth management services, but those who opt for portfolio management services will need to pay separately for financial planning. Typical financial planning fees range from $200 to $500 per hour, or $2,000 to $10,000 on a fixed fee basis.

Modera usually imposes a minimum fee of $2,000 for all financial planning and consulting services, which can be assessed on a per-project basis. If a client later engages the firm for wealth management, it may offset the cost of wealth management by the fees already paid.

Fees for other services: Business and real estate coaching carry separate fees, ranging from $2,000 to $25,000 per quarter. Clients who use Modera Wealth Management for investment monitoring or consulting may pay additional fees of $7,000 to $50,000 per year, which may cover financial planning services as well.

Modera Wealth Management disciplinary disclosures

Modera Wealth Management has a clean disciplinary record. If an SEC-registered firm or its employees face a disciplinary action, such as a criminal charge, regulatory infraction or civil lawsuit, the firm must report that incident on its Form ADV, paperwork that registered firms must file with the SEC.

For more information, you can go to the firm’s IAPD page.

Modera Wealth Management onboarding process

If you’re interested in working with Modera Wealth Management, you can navigate to the firm’s calendar on its website to schedule a 30-minute chat, or call a local office. From there, you can expect to go through the following steps:

  1. The process begins with a meeting in which you’ll discuss your financial situation and goals.
  2. Your team will then use that information to come up with a portfolio and, if you’re a wealth management client, a financial plan.
  3. Next, advisors will work toward implementing your plan. The process may include conversations with other professionals in your life, such as your lawyer, accountant or insurance agent.

Clients of Modera can expect to be contacted at least annually for a review of services and recommendations, and to discuss any life changes that may impact their financial situation or investment goals.

Where Modera Wealth Management is located

Modera Wealth Management has offices in:

  • Westwood, New Jersey
  • Boston
  • Atlanta
  • Inverness, Florida
  • Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Wayne, Pennsylvania

Is Modera Wealth Management right for you?

If you have at least $2 million to invest, Modera Wealth Management may be a good choice. You’ll get personalized services, financial planning and conflict-free advice, thanks to the firm’s fee-only business model.

While the firm does have many clients who are not high net worth investors, those with smaller portfolios may pay proportionally higher fees. For investors with less money to invest, other wealth management firms may offer similar services at a lower price. Be sure to research multiple firms to ensure you find the right advisor for you.

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