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Introducing This Year’s FT 400 List of Top Advisors

By Thomas Coyle March 26, 2014

FA-IQ’s parent, the Financial Times, yesterday rolled out its new FT 400 list of top U.S. financial advisors.

To come up for consideration, an advisor has to manage at least $200 million, have at least 10 years of experience, and work for (or through — the list includes some independents) a “leading” brokerage firm, according to a special section in the Financial Times newspaper published with the list yesterday.

More than 1,500 qualified advisors were graded on how much they manage, the latest annual growth of that figure, their years of experience, their number of top-rated industry certifications and, in a nod to “transparency,” the ease with which consumers can find out about them online. The result, stresses the Financial Times, isn’t a ranking but “a grouping” of industry-leading peers and, in many cases, near equals.

In a “sign of how difficult and competitive the job of financial adviser has become,” the Financial Times writes, “only 40% of the previous year’s FT 400 are on this year’s list.”

The average advisor on the list has 25 years of experience and manages a little over $1.3 billion. New York is home base to the greatest number of FT 400 advisors, followed by Houston and San Francisco (in a tie) and Boston.

Well over three quarters — 86% — work in teams (up from 81% last year), with an average of 10 client-facing professionals per team.

Unsurprisingly, given their numbers and predominance in the middle tier of the private-wealth market, the four biggest employee-track brokerages — the so-called wirehouses — are home to most FT 400 advisors. Among them, Merrill Lynch fields 119, Morgan Stanley 116, UBS 75 and Wells Fargo 42 (see chart). Raymond James and RBC Wealth Management, two large regional firms, each account for 10 of this year’s FT 400 advisors.

Use this link to read the special report and to access the full list of FT 400 advisors, including location and company. The report is also available on FT.com.