How does a financial advisor get on the CNBC Top 100 Wealth Managers list?

#1 Fee-only wealth firm
#1 Fee-only wealth firm   

Since we launched our inaugural CNBC Top 100 Wealth Managers List last year, we have been approached by a great number of advisory firms asking about our process and methodology.

Advisors have asked if they need to submit an application form. Some have asked about whom they need to "talk to" to make their case for being on the CNBC list. Additionally, others have questioned where we actually receive the company data for the rankings.

The CNBC editorial team presents our second annual list of the Top 100 Fee-Only Wealth Management Firms.

So here goes: There are no applications or forms to submit. Also, you cannot state your case to make the list. In fact, under no circumstances should any advisory firm contact CNBC or Meridian-IQ about these rankings. Why? Because all the data we collect comes from the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, state regulators and state insurance commissioners. We simply collect the data and then crunch the numbers.

The final step to create the Top 100 Fee-Only Wealth Management Firms list for CNBC is to apply the AdviceIQ Regulatory Compliance Review process to the master list and eliminate any firm that failed the RCR process.

The RCR process is a due-diligence process whereby each advisory firm was compared with the RCR database of all regulatory actions from all four primary regulators: the SEC, FINRA, state regulators and state insurance commissioners. In order to pass the RCR process, an advisory firm cannot have any complaints, actions or disclosures from any of the above regulators.

"The AdviceIQ Regulatory Compliance Review process vets to ensure that an advisory firm is indeed lawfully registered and then reviews that firms' regulatory history from the four primary regulatory authorities," explained Nick Stuller, CEO of Meridian-IQ.

"If the advisor has even one infraction from any of the four regulators, they do not pass our RCR process," he said.

—By Jim Pavia, senior editor at large

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