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Find the Best Financial Advisors

If you want to make smart decisions with your money but don’t know much about finances, finding a financial advisor is a smart first step. Our research team vetted 11 financial advisors rated by more than 1,760 consumers. Read our guide to research the best financial advisor for you by comparing credentials and services provided.

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by Barbara Friedberg Personal Finance Contributing Editor

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Provides free financial tools and resources online. Matches users with financial advisors that fit their needs. Uses patented Automated Financial Modeling technology. Publishes guides for all major financial topics.

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Edward Jones
Read 147 Reviews

Offers a variety of financial services, including wealth management, investment advising and financial planning. Has options for business owners, trust management and specific strategies. Also sells insurance and annuities.

Merrill-Lynch
Read 333 Reviews

Provides an array of financial products and services, including investment advice and wealth management. Has over 14,000 financial advisors nationwide. Personal Wealth Analysis tool helps you understand your finances.

Vanguard
Read 241 Reviews

Vanguard is a client-owned investment firm with headquarters in Pennsylvania. It has been in business since 1975. Vanguard offers clients online brokerage services to expand their portfolios while saving for a long-term goal.

Personal Capital
Read 17 Reviews

Find the money to invest using Personal Capital, which allows users to see all of their accounts in one easy platform. They also offer guided investment options to help consumers take control of their personal finance.

BNY Mellon Wealth Management
Read 9 Reviews

A division of The Bank of New York Mellon. Services include private banking, investing and wealth management. Employs registered investment advisors. $2 trillion in assets under management as of Sept. 30, 2020.

TD Ameritrade
Read 323 Reviews

Offers financial and investment products for both self-directed investors and those who want investment advice. Commission-free online trading, no platform fees, no trade minimums and no data fees.

Franklin Templeton Investments
Read 12 Reviews

Offers investments and solutions for individual retirement, education savings, small business retirement plans and charitable giving. Manages over $1.4 trillion in assets. Provides a fund comparison tool.

Ameriprise
Read 389 Reviews

Offers investment, wealth management, life insurance, annuity and retirement planning advice. Complimentary initial consultations. Online Security Guarantee covers your losses due to unauthorized activity.

Fidelity Investments
Read 623 Reviews

Established in 1946, Fidelity offers many investment products, including online U.S. and international trading. The company is headquartered in Boston and has over 190 branch offices across the country.

What does a financial advisor do?

Financial advisors give advice and help you create strategies to achieve your short- and long-term money goals. A financial advisor can help you with many different aspects of your finances, but they often have specializations that can help you determine whether they’re a good fit for your needs. Some financial advisor services you can expect to see include:

  • Tax strategizing: Some financial advisors are well-versed in tax laws and can provide you with tax advice.
  • Financial planning: Financial planning is useful, especially if you have goals like retiring early or putting your children through college. Working with a financial advisor to create a plan gives you a good idea of what steps you need to take to hit your goals.
  • Investing: Investing is a common service offered by financial advisors. Whether you’re working on building your portfolio, buying stocks or preparing for retirement, a financial advisor can help you distribute your assets and invest based on your desired results.
  • Wealth management: Wealth management is an all-encompassing service offered by financial advisors. It features general handling of your finances, including security selection and complete financial management.
  • Insurance services: Often included in one of the above services, financial advisors can help you determine whether you have the right insurance coverage based on your assets.

How to choose a financial advisor

Choosing a financial advisor doesn’t have to be complicated. Before picking a financial advisor, make sure you:

  1. Consider your budget. As you begin looking for a financial planner, make sure you take some time to evaluate your financial status and how much you want to spend on working with a financial advisor. Financial advisors have different specialties and prices, so their services aren’t limited to consumers with high net worths.

    Ask potential financial advisors about their pay structure and any fees they charge. Financial advisors typically charge a management fee based on your account size. This percentage can range from 0.25% to more than 1%, depending on the advisor you choose to work with and the assets they handle on your behalf.

    Annual advisory fees are also common. If they’re too high based on your assets, however, they can lower the benefit of working with an advisor.

  2. Decide what services you’re interested in. Not all financial advisors offer the same services. Before deciding to work with a financial advisor, it’s important to make sure they have experience in the areas that matter the most to you. Some financial advisors gear their services toward a specific type of client, whether that’s new investors or those with high net worths. Working with a financial advisor that gets your life situation has benefits, but don’t feel like you have to work with an advisor that markets itself as a niche provider.
  3. Choose between in-person and online services. While in-person financial advisors have many positives and their services are very flexible, they may not be right for you. If you’re just starting out or love the idea of managing your finances on the go, you might be better suited to work with a robo-advisor.

How much does a financial advisor cost?

The cost of a financial advisor varies depending on the size of your account, the services you need and the company you choose to work with. Financial advisors can choose to be compensated in a few different ways.

  • Commission-based payments: Financial advisors who work on commission receive a fee when they buy or sell securities on behalf of their clients.
  • Flat fees: Some financial advisors charge a set fee for specific services so clients know how much they can expect to pay in advance.
  • Hourly payments: Many financial advisors bill by the hour and may request a retainer fee prior to providing services.
  • Assets under management fees: Financial advisors who manage your complete financial portfolio generally charge a fee that is a percentage of your total assets under management (AUM).

When you’re comparing financial advisor costs, make sure you look for advisors with reasonable fees. Higher fees aren’t proof of better investment results.

What are the different types of financial advisors?

Financial advisors can specialize in a variety of areas. A few popular financial advisor credentials and titles include:

CPAs

CPAs (certified public accountants) are accountants with additional education and work experience who have passed a certification exam. CPAs serving as financial advisors typically have additional training and handle a range of financial services, including tax preparation.

Financial planners

Financial planners are help individuals and corporations meet their financial and life goals. They may specialize in tax planning, asset allocation, investing, risk management and/or estate planning.

Registered representatives

Registered representatives buy and sell securities. They typically work for major investment brokerage firms or serve people looking for help with investing.

Money managers

Money managers oversee investment decisions for a financial portfolio. They generally work for wealthy individuals, mutual funds or pension plans.

Registered investment advisors

Registered investment advisors (RIAs) are either individuals or firms registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or state securities authorities. They are charged with providing advice and recommendations or writing reports about securities.

Registered representatives

Registered representatives are also licensed by the SEC. They must pass the Series 7 and Series 63 securities examinations and be registered with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). These individuals typically work for investment brokerage companies and may also be called stockbrokers or account executives.

Certified financial planners

Certified financial planners (CFPs) must meet requirements set by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. These requirements include holding at least a bachelor’s degree, completing coursework in financial planning and successfully completing a comprehensive exam.

Chartered financial analysts

This designation is issued by the CFA Institute, which has extensive education, experience and examination requirements. CFA holders demonstrate high levels of competence in investment research and portfolio management.

Personal financial specialists

The PFS designation is given by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). Professionals with this title are CPAs with additional training in financial and wealth management.

Do I need a financial advisor?

Many people can benefit from working with a financial advisor, but you should seriously consider working with a financial advisor if you fall into one of the following categories:

  • You’re a beginning investor. People who are just starting out in their financial journey can benefit from working with a financial advisor. A financial advisor can provide personal finance advice and education to help new investors accomplish their short- and long-term financial goals.
  • You’re going through family and household changes. People who are experiencing changes in household income can benefit from professional financial planning. Changes that may call for financial advice include having a new baby, getting divorced, getting a new job or losing a job.
  • You’re newly wealthy. If you’ve recently inherited or won a large sum of money, a financial advisor can help you understand and manage your new financial situation.
  • You’re a business owner. People who own a business or are thinking of starting one can benefit from using a financial advisor with experience in both personal and business finances.

Who are the best financial advisors near me?

Financial advisors have the experience and qualifications to guide people with a variety of needs and budgets. We compared our favorite financial advisors nationwide so you can get help achieving your monetary goals.

Financial advisor FAQs

What's the difference between a financial advisor and a financial planner?
Financial advisor is the umbrella term for anyone who helps people with their finances. A financial planner specializes in helping people sort out their personal finances and schedule their financial goals.
When should you get a financial advisor?
While many people can benefit from working with a financial advisor, you should seriously consider working with a financial professional if:
  • You’re new to the financial industry
  • You’re going through major family or household changes
  • You recently inherited or won a large amount of money
  • You own a business
Is it worth having a financial advisor?
Having a financial advisor doesn’t guarantee that your finances will be perfect, but it can help you better manage money and save for the future. If you follow through on the advice your financial advisor gives you, you can end up more financially stable.
Can you trust financial advisors?
It depends on the advisor, which is why it’s important to thoroughly research a financial advisor before agreeing to work with them. Make sure you read reviews and check your advisor’s certifications before letting them manage your money.

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    Financial advisor company reviews

    Edward Jones

    Edward Jones, a Fortune 500 company, is one of the largest financial services firms in the country. With 11,000 offices, Edward Jones has served nearly seven million clients for over 90 years.​

    Read more about Edward Jones
    Merrill-Lynch

    Merrill Lynch is owned by Bank of America, one of the world’s leading financial institutions. The company serves approximately 47 million consumers and small businesses and has 4,700 retail financial centers.

    Read more about Merrill-Lynch
    Wells Fargo Advisors

    Wells Fargo Advisors handles $1.4 trillion in client assets and is one of the country's leading financial services firms. The Wells Fargo Advisors serve their clientele in person, over-the-phone or online. The company brings Wall Street vision and Main Street values to their client relationships.

    Read more about Wells Fargo Advisors
    BNY Mellon Wealth Management

    BNY Mellon Wealth Management was founded by Alexander Hamilton in the late 18th Century and has been managing wealth since America began creating it. The company serves individuals, families, family offices, planned giving programs, endowments and foundations, professionals and institutions. In 2015, BNY Mellon Wealth Management was named “Best U.S. Private Bank” by Global Finance magazine. The company serves clients across the globe.

    Read more about BNY Mellon Wealth Management
    Franklin Templeton Investments

    Franklin Templeton Investments was founded in the 1940s by Rupert H. Johnson Sr. and named after Benjamin Franklin. The company serves individual investors, institutional investors, financial advisors and registered investment advisors. The company has separate websites for the institutional investor and the registered investment advisor. Franklin Templeton serves clients across the globe.​

    Read more about Franklin Templeton Investments

    Compare Top Financial Advisor Reviews

    Wells Fargo Advisors
    Read 76 Reviews

    Offers college savings plans, insurance, IRA, business and advisory services, credit and lending advice, and a variety of investment help. Has $1.6 trillion in assets under management and over 12,900 advisors as of Sept. 30, 2020.

    by Barbara Friedberg Personal Finance Contributing Editor

    Barbara Friedberg, MBA, MS is a former investment portfolio manager with decades of financial experience. Friedberg taught Finance and Investments at several universities. Her work has been featured in U.S. News & World Report, Investopedia, Yahoo!Finance and many more publications.