The Best American RIA Companies 2022

It is clear that more and more families entrust the management of their wealth to independent advisers. But how do you choose between countless companies? It’s one thing to choose an advisor who works for a global brand, like a major bank. But how do you start choosing from thousands of independent businesses?

SHOOK is here to help. As the world’s only research consultancy specializing in quality. SHOOK performs extensive due diligence as the basis for its ranking.

Disclosure: SHOOK is completely independent and objective, and receives no compensation for ranking placement.

What qualities does SHOOK look for?

For starters, every independent advisor ranking we’ve seen focuses on size (total assets under management, headcount, etc.) But that’s like recommending a large bank. anyone looking for a single trusted advisor?

For large companies, SHOOK focuses on individuals or teams. But for people looking for an independent advisor, SHOOK’s focus on quality directs its recommendations to firms where we can fully understand how each client is actually being treated. In doing so, we measure aspects such as the processes inherent in each customer relationship, what is the purpose of the team, and what is the underlying culture we see at all levels of employees.

When we meet with these independent firms, we take a close look at leadership and senior directors, as they tend to dictate each client’s experience. When we meet with a company or advisor for a due diligence meeting, we always think, “Would we recommend this company (or this individual) to a friend or family member? “Quality is always first, if we are going to include a business (or advisor) in our rankings, we need to make sure everyone is of the highest quality.

The Forbes ranking of the best American RIA companies, compiled by Search SHOOK, is based on an algorithm of qualitative criteria, primarily obtained through telephone, virtual and in-person due diligence interviews, and quantitative data. The algorithm considers factors such as revenue trends, assets under management, compliance records, industry experience, and those encompassing best practices and approach to working with clients. Portfolio performance is not a criterion due to varying client objectives and lack of audited data. Neither Forbes nor SHOOK receive compensation in exchange for ranking.

(For the full list and more, visit; advisors can take a survey for upcoming rankings on

Research Summary (as of October 2022)

We don’t want 300,000 nominations, so we set thresholds to minimize the amount we receive:

  • 36,535 nominations received, according to thresholds
  • 21,116 invited to complete an online survey
  • 15,342 telephone interviews
  • 3,250 face-to-face interviews with advisors
  • 1,357 virtual interviews

*Approximately 20% represent independent advisors.

The SHOOK process

SHOOK scours the financial services industry for nominations. SHOOK accepts advisors who meet predetermined minimum thresholds and acceptable compliance records. To date, SHOOK has received nearly 36,535 nominations – from advisors who meet SHOOK’s thresholds. 21,116 of these candidates responded to an online survey.

Unlike other advisor rankings, SHOOK is not a ‘robo-ranker’ – numbers like production and assets don’t tell the whole story, especially when much of the data is self-reported. SHOOK Research creates role model rankings – companies that lead the way in delivering best practices and delivering a high quality customer experience. It is imperative to focus on quantitative and qualitative factors, including telephone and in-person meetings.

SHOOK Research is the only ranking firm that surveys businesses and advisors by phone and in person at the business location.

Basic requirements

  • Minimum of 7 years as an advisor for 1 partner/principal
  • Fully operational as a practice for at least 1 year
  • Must integrate a fiduciary model
  • Completion of online survey
  • Over 50% of business must be with individuals
  • Acceptable Compliance Record

Quantitative measures

  • Revenue
  • Assets under management and quality of these assets
  • Customer data, such as retention rates
  • Portfolio performance is not a factor; verified returns among advisors are rare, and different client goals offer varying returns

Qualitative measures

  • Telephone, virtual and in-person meetings with companies (if an in-person meeting cannot be achieved, exceptions are considered in which the interview will take place after the publication of a ranking).
  • Compliance Records. Some “malfunctions” may go unnoticed (eg, business or product failure beyond the scope of an advisor’s due diligence; the older a malfunction, the less we seek). Since there are many gray areas, the SHOOK team is ready to listen to a company that is willing to support the advisor with written support.
  • Companies offering a complete customer experience: Service model; investment process; fee structure; range of services (e.g. liabilities and other wealth management services)
  • Credentials (years of service can serve as credentials)
  • Using the team and team dynamics
  • Community involvement
  • Discussions with management, peers, competitor peers

U4/Compliance issues

The following conditions will be considered in order to reduce weighting infractions:

  • Infringements denied or closed without action
  • Complaint stems from a product, service or advice initiated by a former Consultant or another member or former member of the team
  • Time since complaint
  • Claims related to product failure not related to investment advice (certain limited partnerships, rate-adjusted securities, etc.)
  • Complaints that have been resolved (must be proven) to appease a client who has remained with the advisor for at least one year after the settlement date
  • Complaints that turned out to be unfounded
  • Actions taken as a result of administrative error or business failure

Once an advisor’s compliance rating falls into a tenable category, the following conditions must be met:

  • An advisor’s rating must be among SHOOK’s highest qualitative metrics, including in-person interview
  • Letter of recommendation

Ranking algorithm

The algorithm is designed to fairly compare the business practices of a large group of companies based on quantitative and qualitative elements. The data is weighted to ensure that priorities are given to dynamics such as preferred “best practices”, business models, recent business activity, etc. Each variable is noted and represents a certain value for each measured component. This data is fed into an algorithm that measures thousands of companies against each other.

SHOOK Disclosures

SHOOK is completely independent and objective and does not receive any compensation from advisors, companies, the media or any other source in exchange for ranking placement. SHOOK is funded by conferences, publications and research partners. Since every investor has unique needs, investors should carefully choose the right adviser for their own situation and perform their own due diligence. SHOOK’s research and rankings provide opinions on how to choose the right financial advisor and are not indicative of future performance or representative of any client’s experience. Portfolio performance is not a criterion due to varying client objectives and lack of audited data. Remember that past performance is not an indication of future results.

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