P.T. Barnum once said that money makes for a terrible master but an excellent servant. He lived his own advice — the founder of Barnum & Bailey Circus was one of America’s first millionaires.
Very few of us will ever become millionaires, but taking Barnum’s words to heart is a good start.
Financial advisors help put their clients in a position to make money work for them instead of chasing it their entire lives. Arkansas Money & Politics asked readers to reveal their favorite financial advisors, and they delivered. The professionals listed in this special section are committed to guiding their clients through the sometimes intimidating world of investments and transforming finances from a potential source of stress to a golden opportunity.
AMP’s Best Advisors list was taken from reader nominations. The top 26 nominees (there was a tie for 25th) verified to be licensed and based in Arkansas are listed here in alphabetical order.
Northwestern Mutual/The Bertasi Financial Group, Little Rock
Bertasi believes that identifying your financial goals and suggesting innovative solutions to help you implement them is a hallmark of a great financial advisor. In addition, through his association with The Bertasi Financial Group, Bertasi has access to a staff of seasoned professionals, which ensures he has the manpower and technical ability to promptly meet the needs of his clients. The mission of the Bertasi Financial Group is to help people grow professionally, personally and financially through enduring relationships. He earned a bachelor of business administration in marketing from the University of Memphis and is a member of the Greater Little Rock Chamber of Commerce.
Melissa W. Bradley
Merrill Lynch Wealth Management/Smouni Bradley Group, Little Rock
Bradley believes that helping clients achieve their goals and dreams never gets old, even after more than 20 years of working with individuals and families. She values the relationships that she has built over the years and truly believes the key to success is a written financial strategy.
Brown Capital Management, Little Rock
Brown started in the investment industry in 1999 while earning his bachelor of business administration in finance from the Reynolds School of Business at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. After 10 years of working as a stock analyst, he made a career transition in 2009 to follow his dream of working directly with individuals to help manage and grow their wealth. Brown left Stephens Inc. and began working as a financial advisor for a small firm headquartered in Northwest Arkansas, running the firm’s Little Rock office. Having found his passion, he in 2015 launched Brown Capital Management, a Registered Investment Advisory firm where he manages a thriving practice focusing on wealth management and retirement planning for individuals and businesses.
Chad Carlson, CFP®
Simmons Investment Services, Little Rock
Carlson is a Certified Financial Planner™ with more than 24 years of experience in the financial services industry. A Little Rock native and graduate of Catholic High School for Boys, Carlson returned home after his graduation from Baylor University to begin his career in 1996. In 2001, Chad joined Delta Trust, which was later acquired by Simmons Bank. In the community, Carlson has volunteered with numerous organizations and is a graduate of Leadership Greater Little Rock Class XXV. He and his wife, Amy, are members of The Summit Church and have two children. He enjoys time with his family and friends, cooking, running and cycling.
Jason Chacko, CFP®, CRPS®
Morgan Stanley/The Chacko Group, Hot Springs
Chacko is a Certified Financial Planner™ and Chartered Retirement Plans Specialist® with Morgan Stanley Wealth Management. Since joining The Chacko Group as a financial advisor in 2009, he has concentrated on providing effective and efficient financial solutions for the individual goals of his clients. In addition to his care for his clients, Chacko currently serves as the branch manager for the Morgan Stanley office in Hot Springs. He is currently the chief communications officer for Rotary Club 99 and sits on the advisory board for the FBI Arkansas Citizen’s Academy as well as the Camp Aldersgate board of directors.
Raymond James Financial Services/Signature Private Wealth Management, Fayetteville
Cole received a bachelor of science in business administration (marketing) from the University of Arkansas in 1990. After college, he attended the University of Arkansas at Little Rock School of Law, receiving a Juris Doctor in 1994. Cole practiced law for six years focusing primarily on banking and probate law, and remains a member of the Arkansas Bar Association. After leaving private law practice, Cole managed the Arvest Asset Management office in Fayetteville for several years. He then joined Raymond James in May of 2006. Today, Cole assists clients with all aspects of the management of their investment portfolios from the accumulation phase and planning for retirement to income planning during retirement.
Cindy Conger, CPA/PFS, CFP®
Conger Wealth Management, Little Rock
Conger earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting in 1981 and her MBA at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 1983. In 1985, she was a founding partner in The Arkansas Financial Group, Inc. in Little Rock. There she gained experience, expertise and national acclaim. Worth magazine recognized Cindy for a decade as one of the top practitioners in the nation, and she was named to Wealth Management Magazine’s “50 Distinguished Women in Wealth Management.” In 2005, she formed her own firm, now known as Conger Wealth Management. CWM focused its services for women in transition, while also helping couples with their financial planning needs. In 2018, she sold Conger Wealth Management to Advisory Alpha but continues to work part time with CWM.
Barry M. Corkern,
Barry M. Corkern & Co. Inc., Little Rock
Objective fee-only, fiduciary wealth management has been a passionate commitment for Corkern since 1982. He was the first Accredited Investment Fiduciary Auditor™ (AIFA®) in Arkansas; is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) and CLU; was a graduate in the private wealth management profession track at the The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania; has provided litigation support and expert witness testimony in more than 75 cases; is the founding president of the Arkansas Chapter of the Financial Planning Association & recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award; and is co-author of Beginning Again Personally and Financially.
Kelley Curtis Dunlap, CRPC®
Stifel/The Curtis Team,
With more than 20 years in the financial industry, Dunlap has been a partner of The Curtis Team at Stifel since 2011. Devoting her time to a select client base consisting of affluent families and successful businesses, she focuses on mitigating risk and pursuing growth of her clients’ wealth with an emphasis on holistic planning and risk management strategies. She utilizes her Chartered Retirement Planning CounselorSM (CRPC®) by assisting business owners in developing a retirement plan tailored to their needs. She also is a member of National Association of Plan Advisors (NAPA) and sits on the Stifel Retirement Plans Roundtable.
Prime Capital Investment
Advisors, Little Rock
As managing partner for Prime Capital Investment Advisors, Gerber provides both financial planning and wealth management services. His team also advises companies, large and small, on how to best manage and offer a retirement plan to its employees. With 15 years experience, Gerber enjoys serving his clients with a personalized problem-solving approach that best helps his clients feel empowered to make the right decisions for their future. He graduated from Ouachita Baptist University and earned a master’s degree in financial planning. He is a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional and an Accredited Investment Fiduciary®. His wife, Kandace, and three children are very involved in raising support and awareness for children in the foster-care system throughout Central Arkansas, where they hope to connect waiting children to forever families.
Heritage Oak Wealth Advisors, Rogers
Gibson is the founder and owner of Heritage Oak Wealth Advisors, where he works with a select group of high net worth clients to provide a comprehensive wealth management plan personalized to the needs and desires of each client and family. He has a passion for cultivating lasting relationships with the clients he serves, and his personal care towards each client’s needs are unmatched. Gibson has worked in wealth management for almost 20 years, and his unique approach to detailed planning and execution has set him apart from other advisors in the industry.
Cory Grummer, CFP®
Stephens Inc., Little Rock
Grummer is a vice president and leader of the wealth planning team at Stephens. She has more than 10 years of experience, serving in financial roles in both the private and public sector. Prior to joining Stephens in 2013, Grummer was a budget analyst for the State of Colorado and worked for many years as an analyst for a private equity firm. Her background in accounting and passion for finance led her to obtain her Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) designation and then to her current financial planning role, where she is able to help clients and their families plan for their futures. In this role, she works with Stephens’ financial consultants and their clients to create comprehensive financial plans for various stages of life. This includes retirement, education, insurance and estate planning. Grummer and her husband have two young children. In her free time, she enjoys DIY projects and giving back to her community as an active member in the Junior League of Little Rock.
Gutierrez, MPP, CFP®, CRPS®
Aptus Financial Services,
Gutierrez is the founder of Aptus Financial. She holds an MPP from Harvard University and the CFP® and CRPS® designations. She was recently recognized in the 2020 Investment News 40 under 40 class of investment advisors and serves as adjunct instructor in personal finance in the Department of Surgery for the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Gutierrez is a national speaker on “living like a resident” for physicians; eliminating conflicts of interest in the financial industry; and recruiting women to become financial advisors. She blogs as “Ladysplaining Money” and is author of the book, But First, Save 10: The One Simple Money Move That Will Change Your Life.
Greg Hartz, CFA, CPA
Management, Little Rock
Hartz is the founder and a senior partner at Foundation Resource Management (FRM), a SEC-registered investment advisory firm in Little Rock. Hartz has 34 years of experience as a value investment portfolio manager. He is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and holds the Personal Financial Specialist designation of the American Institute of CPAs. He is a life-long resident of Arkansas. FRM serves charitable foundations, insurance companies, hospitals, retirement plans and high net-worth families. The company began operation in 1992 and has seven CFA charter holders.
Aspire Wealth/LPL Financial,
As a financial professional and an active member of his community, Hoefl is dedicated to helping individuals and businesses build their financial futures. To stay on top of his field as a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor (CRPC) and develop his professional skills, he regularly attends industry training, certification programs and is a featured Zoom speaker in Little Rock, Hot Springs and southwest Arkansas. Wilkerson has been in the financial industry for more than 15 years. She has worked with various broker dealers, and her expertise ranges from bonds, annuities, long-term care and more. Before becoming a financial advisor, she protected various cities in Mississippi as a law enforcement officer.
Edward Jones, Stuttgart
Homra is a financial advisor in the Stuttgart office of Edward Jones.’’
Loren Marshall Ipsen
Ameriprise/Ipsen Advisor Group, Little Rock
Ipsen received the recognition of being in the Ameriprise Circle of Success in 2013 and has 19 years of experience. He earned an associate degree in arts business administration from Texarkana College and a bachelor of business administration finance from Texas A&M-Texarkana. Ipsen believes that your financial goals are individual, and he can help you achieve them. Ipsen takes the time to understand what’s truly important to you — whether it’s saving for college, retiring the way you want, making smart investments or anything else.
Legacy Capital Wealth Partners, Little Rock
Jones began working in the wealth management industry in 1994 after receiving his undergraduate degree from the UA and his law degree from UALR. Having completed the requirements to become a CFP®, he worked locally for both Morgan Keegan and Stephens Inc. In 1997, he joined the late Frank McGehee to form what is today Legacy Capital. Matt now serves as president and directional leader for Legacy. He and the firm’s other advisors focus on providing holistic and customized wealth management services to affluent and ultra-affluent clientele. Legacy’s client base is nationwide and includes some of Arkansas’ most prominent families.
Kelly Journey, CFP®,
Edward Jones, Little Rock
Journey is a financial advisor in the Little Rock office of Edward Jones.
Edward Jones, Little Rock
Korsmeier is a financial advisor in the Little Rock office of Edward Jones.
ClientFirst Wealth Management, Little Rock
In 2007, Mahaffey founded ClientFirst Wealth Management, a fee-only RIA and fiduciary managing more than $145 million for Arkansans. Prior to launching ClientFirst, he spent six years as a branch manager and portfolio manager with Raymond James, six years as a vice president and portfolio manager at Merrill Lynch and 11 years as a financial advisor and portfolio manager at Stephens Inc. Designated as a Certified Financial Planner and chartered financial consultant, Mahaffey holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from The Citadel, and he earned his MBA from the UA. His articles have been published in Barron’s, the Arkansas Banker and others. He also is the author of How to Select a Financial Advisor: The Least You Should Know. He is a member of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) and the Financial Planning Association.
Geoffrey H. Niebaum
Mendel Capital Management, Little Rock
Niebaum brings 15 years of investment advisory experience to his role leading Mendel Capital Management. As president, he focuses on investment management and overall strategic growth of Mendel Capital. Prior to joining Mendel Capital, Niebaum was a partner and portfolio manager for Integra Capital Advisors. His investment management career began with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. He earned an MBA from the University of South Florida and a BA in marketing from St. Leo University. Niebaum and his wife, Katie (a native Arkansan), live in Little Rock with their three children.
John Shrewsbury, RICP®
GenWealth Financial Advisors, Bryant
As a founder and leader of GenWealth Financial Advisors, Shrewsbury has helped thousands of Arkansans plan their paths for personal wealth. He has worked with his team to build one of the largest independent financial practices in the state. For GenWealth, financial service is a public service. Today, GenWealth has six offices in Arkansas and Louisiana with 37 advisors and service specialists. The firm focuses on financial planning with an emphasis in creating financial strategies as their clients transition from work to retirement.
New Wave Wealth Advisors, Springdale
Originally from Poland, Siwiec moved to Rogers in 1999, where he launched his career at Arvest in commercial lending and wealth management. With an MA in finance and nearly 20 years of experience, he joined New Wave Wealth Advisors in 2019 and is solely focused on helping his clients by leveraging independent solutions for investments management and financial planning. His biggest pride is his family including his wife of 20 years, Ashley; his son, Adam, a sophomore at Stanford University; and two daughters, Alex who plays golf, and Ella, who loves the arts. In his spare time, Siwiec is an avid mountain biker and fly fisherman.
Joey Small, APMA®, CRPC®
Ameriprise/Small & Associates Financial, Little Rock
Small is a private wealth advisor and president of Small & Associates Financial. He provides personalized financial advice to help clients achieve their goals, today and tomorrow. He takes the time to understand what’s truly important to his clients and adjust to whatever life brings — both the expected and unexpected. As a result, clients can feel more confident, connected and in control of their financial life. Small has 21 years of experience with Ameriprise Financial, during which time he has been named to Barron’s Top Financial Advisors, to the Ameriprise Chairman’s Advisory Council and to Forbes’ Best-in-State Wealth Advisors.
Karron E. Wages
Financial Decisions Inc., Little Rock
Wages is the president and lead financial planner at Financial Decisions Inc. She began her financial planning career at The Arkansas Financial Group in 1996, working her way up to vice president and chief compliance officer. In 2005, she transferred over to manage the affiliate firm, Financial Decisions Inc. The personal appeal to managing a firm like Financial Decisions Inc. was her desire to help people of all income and asset levels. Financial Decisions delivers financial planning and investment management services to clients of all financial asset levels. Wages enjoys helping young clients get started on a good financial path, as well as helping clients save for college and prepare for a solid retirement. She helps clients at all phases of their financial journey.