When it comes to finding a job as a financial advisor, the options can seem nearly limitless. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated there were about 263,000 financial advisor jobs in 2019, a number which is expected to grow by 4% by 2029.
The challenge for job seekers isn’t so much finding a job as choosing among the multitude available. Where to begin? One important consideration is a firm’s size and scope, especially for newer advisors. Larger firms are likely to have more opportunities and career paths you can take. They’re also more likely to have the resources to invest in robust training for their employees.
So if you want a firm that will help you grow and that you’re unlikely to outgrow, target the largest financial advisor firms. To help your search, here are the 10 largest financial advisor firms in California based on assets under management. They are listed from smallest to largest.
Ameriprise Financial Services
Assets under management: $900 billion.
Ameriprise Financial Services dates back to 1894 when it was founded by John Tappan. Since then, it has grown to hold more than $900 billion in assets under management and administration from more than 2 million individual, business and institutional clients. The firm operates three core business segments: asset management, annuities and protection, and advice and wealth management. The headquarters are in Minneapolis, but the firm also has offices throughout the U.S., including California. The firm welcomes new and experienced advisors and corporate professionals. It also offers internships and a rotational leadership development program for students.
Assets under management: $958 billion.
LPL Financial doesn’t provide investment banking or other financial services. Instead, its mission centers on helping financial professionals create and grow their businesses by providing technology, brokerage and investment services to independent financial advisors, registered investment advisors and financial institutions. It supports more than 17,000 financial professionals and approximately 700 financial institutions on its platform. Job categories include administration, compliance, finance, human resources, information technology, research, sales and marketing, and service and operations. The company also offers remote job opportunities in some California locations.
Assets under management: $1.4 trillion.
Morgan Stanley has been helping individuals, families, institutions and governments meet their capital management needs since 1935. Today, more than 60,000 employees provide wealth management, investment banking and management, research and sales and trading services to the firm’s clients. Its website identifies five core company values: “Do the right thing, put clients first, lead with exceptional ideas, commit to diversity and inclusion and give back.” With offices around the globe, there are plenty of places you can go with Morgan Stanley, including Los Angeles, San Francisco and Menlo Park, California.
Assets under management: 1.5 trillion.
Founded in 1922, Edward Jones is built differently than many other financial advisor firms. Once licensed, advisors are set up with an office in their chosen community where they’ll build a business with the support of a branch office administrator. Compensation is commission-based, with the exception of the first four years, when you’re eligible for a supplementary salary while you get your business up and running. Before that, while you’re studying for your licensing exams, you’ll earn an hourly rate. The firm’s network currently includes around 19,000 financial advisors. If branch life isn’t for you, you can also pursue a career at the company headquarters providing technical, analytic or product support to branch advisors.
UBS Financial Services Inc.
Assets under management: $1.6 trillion at UBS Global Wealth Management Americas.
While its headquarters is in Zurich, UBS Financial Services Inc. has more than two dozen branches in California as well. The firm’s four divisions provide wealth management services for individuals and families, investment banking for corporate and institutional clients, asset management for private clients, intermediaries and institutions, and customized solutions for corporate and institutional subsidiaries of Swiss corporations. As a UBS employee, you can focus on the business side, working within company operations such as administration or marketing, or serve clients through asset management, client advisory and relationship management, global banking or wealth management. Also of note is that the company recently handed the reins over to a new CEO, Ralph Hamers, formerly CEO of ING.
Wells Fargo Advisors
Assets under management: $1.8 trillion.
You probably know Wells Fargo, but do you know Wells Fargo Advisors? It is the investment arm of Wells Fargo Bank and third-largest full-service provider of retail brokerage services in the U.S., based on number of financial advisors. The firm employs around 12,500 financial advisors who provide investment planning and advice for their clients. About 60% of those advisors work in the traditional brokerage channel through Wells Fargo Clearing Services with the remainder located in Wells Fargo bank branches. The firm leverages referrals from Wells Fargo’s licensed bankers in its branches to bring clients over to the investor side of the well-known bank. Wells Fargo Advisors provides advisory, asset management, brokerage, estate planning, retirement planning and portfolio analysis and review services to clients.
J.P. Morgan Securities
Assets under management: $2.6 trillion.
With offices in Los Angeles, Newport Beach, San Francisco and Santa Barbara, J.P. Morgan Securities doesn’t have the strongest presence in California of these 10 largest financial advisor firms, but it does emphasize a “small by design,” intimate approach in its financial planning. The company also takes a goals-based approach that focuses on preparing a financial plan to address your personal financial goals. In all, the company provides wealth management, investing, banking and lending services to clients. With more than 200 years of experience, it may not be the largest financial advisor firm in number of branches or assets under management, but it is one of the oldest.
Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc.
Assets under management: $2.8 trillion.
Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc. is the investment side of Bank of America. Its network of more than 14,000 financial advisors provide wealth management and investment products and services to individuals and businesses. In 2020, it had the most top-rated financial advisors in their state according to Barron’s “Top 1,200 Financial Advisors” list, which ranked advisors who had at least seven years’ experience and had been at their current firm for at least one year. It offers a 43-month program for aspiring advisors to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to build a wealth-management business, including how to acquire and retain clients and provide financial strategies tailored to each client’s needs. Experienced advisors can also attend a 10-week training program that introduces them to Merrill’s products, services and financial planning strategy. To qualify, you must have at least two years’ experience as an advisor and hold your series 7 and 66 or 63 and 65 licenses. The firm has more than 60 offices across Northern and Southern California.
Charles Schwab & Co. Inc.
Assets under management: $7.3 trillion.
With about 60 branches throughout California, Charles Schwab & Co. Inc. is another large financial advisor firm dominating the West Coast. The company supports more than 31 million brokerage accounts, 1.6 million banking accounts and $2.1 million in corporate retirement plans. It also supports 13,000 independent advisor firms. Those interested in a career as a financial advisor can attend The Schwab Financial Consultant Academy, an 18- to 24-month rotational program that prepares aspiring advisors — called financial consultants at Schwab — for a career helping Schwab clients and families with financial needs. College and graduate students can get a jump-start on their careers through the nine-week Schwab Intern Academy, which takes participants through a learning program of team-building activities, networking and hands-on projects. The program switched from in-person to virtual during the pandemic.
Fidelity Personal and Workplace Advisors
Assets under management: $10.4 trillion.
Fidelity Investments isn’t just big for a financial firm. If AUM were gross domestic product, it would be the third-largest country by GDP. With more than $10 trillion in AUM, Fidelity’s GDP eclipses all but the two largest countries, the U.S. and China. More than $3 trillion of those assets are managed at the company’s discretion rather than by investors themselves. The company serves more than 37 million people, 22,000 businesses and 13,000 financial institutions. Most investors know Fidelity for its investor centers, where investors can meet with financial advisors face-to-face, but the company also has regional offices and call centers throughout the U.S. where it employs people in areas beyond direct financial advice. While its headquarters is in Boston, Fidelity has a strong presence throughout Northern and Southern California.
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10 Largest Financial Advisor Firms in California This Year originally appeared on usnews.com