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Introducing the 2015 FT 400 List of Top Advisors

By Thomas Coyle March 27, 2015

FA-IQ’s parent company, the Financial Times, this week rolled out its 2015 FT 400 list of top U.S. financial advisors.

To be considered for membership in the FT 400, an advisor has to manage $200 million or more, have at least 10 years of experience and work for (or through — the list includes some independents) a major brokerage firm, according to a special section in the Financial Times newspaper published Wednesday.

Researchers sifted through data on nearly 1,500 qualified advisors. They probed recent AUM growth rates, counted industry certifications and tested the ease with which consumers can find out about candidates online. The result of these inquiries isn’t a ranking, the newspaper emphasizes, but “a grouping” of industry-leading peers. As the Financial Times explains, “no methodology could credibly distinguish between the 200th best advisor and the 201st” in the FT 400.

In “a sign of how difficult the job of financial advisor has become,” the Financial Times writes, fewer than three-quarters of last year’s FT 400 were on the list again in 2015.

The median FT 400 advisor has 26 years of experience and manages a little over $850 million. The average FA on the list saw assets grow by at least 30% last year, to a total of roughly $1.7 billion.

The latest edition of the FT 400 represents more geographic diversity than the survey has had since its launch in 2013. While California and New York tied with the greatest concentrations of FT 400 members, with 12.5% of the total in each state, other major population centers — like Texas, Massachusetts, Illinois and Florida — figure prominently on the list.

Reflecting a move toward job-function specialization among elite brokerage-based FAs, well over three-quarters — 84% — of this year’s FT 400 work in teams (down from 86% last year, but up from 81% in 2013), with an average of 14 client-facing professionals per team (up from 10 last year).

You can use this link to read the Financial Times’ special report and see a full list of this year’s FT 400 advisors, including their locations and company affiliations.

The Financial Times also compiles an annual FT 300 list of top RIA firms, and an annual FT 100 list of top women financial advisors.