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2022 SmartAsset Study: Best-Paying Places for Financial Advisors

Most financial advisors fall in the 90th percentile of U.S. workers according to average annual earnings. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the average financial advisor made about $120,000 in 2021, more than double the income of the average worker who earned $58,300 in the same year. Though the advisory career sets many individuals up for financial success, some places are more favorable for pay than others.

In this study, SmartAsset determined the best-paying places for financial advisors. We compared the 50 largest metro areas across four metrics: average financial advisor earnings, two-year change in financial advisor pay, financial advisor pay relative to average pay and housing costs as a percentage of average financial advisor pay. For more information on our data and process, read our Data and Methodology section below.

This is SmartAsset’s 2022 study on the best-paying places for financial advisors. Check out the 2021 version here.

Key Findings

  • The Cincinnati metro area moves into the top spot from last year when it tied for eighth. This change in rank is largely due to a significant uptick in average earnings for financial advisors. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that average financial advisor pay in the metro area is about $9,800 higher in 2021 relative to 2020 ($130,930 vs. $121,150).
  • A mixed picture when it comes to financial advisor pay changes. Nationally, average earnings for financial advisors stayed relatively flat between 2019 and 2021, growing by only 0.56%. Across the metro areas in our study, pay increased in 33 of them and decreased in the remaining 17. Average financial advisor pay for grew by the largest margin in the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington area (42.37%) and declined the most in Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News (-21.48%).


1. Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN

Across the four metrics in our study, Cincinnati, Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana ranks best for average financial advisor pay relative to all workers and housing costs in the area. The ratio of financial advisor earnings to average earnings for all workers is second-highest, at 2.38, and housing costs as a percentage of average financial advisor earnings is second-lowest, at 9.22%. In gross terms, average financial advisor pay stood at $130,930 in 2021, which is about 12% higher than it was in 2019.

2. Pittsburgh, PA

Average financial advisor earnings in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania are fourth-highest in the study, at $145,980. This is 2.60 times higher than average earnings for all workers, the highest ratio across all 50 metro areas. Finally, median annual housing costs make up only about 7% of average financial advisor earnings.

3. Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD

The greater Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington metro area ranks eighth-best for average financial advisor pay ($134,970) and first for its two-year change in average earnings for financial advisors (42.37%). With pay for financial advisors growing so quickly, many financial advisors will have to contribute a lower portion of their income to housing. We found that median annual housing costs in the metro area make up only 11.69% of average financial advisor pay, the 19th-lowest rate in the study.

4. St. Louis, MO-IL (Tie)

Average earnings for financial advisors in St. Louis, Missouri-Illinois grew substantially over the past two years. In 2019, average financial advisor earnings in the area stood at about $94,900. In 2021, that figure was roughly $116,900, or more than 23% higher. The St. Louis metro area also has the 16th-highest ratio of financial advisor pay to average worker pay (2.10) and the eighth-lowest housing costs as a percentage of average advisor earnings (10.29%).

4. Richmond, VA (Tie)

Richmond, Virginia ties with St. Louis, Missouri-Illinois as the fourth-best place for financial advisor pay. It ranks in the top 10 metro areas for two metrics: average financial advisor pay ($132,640) and financial advisor pay relative to average pay (2.35). Additionally, housing costs make up less than 11% of earnings for the average financial advisor.

6. Louisville, KY-IN

On average, financial advisors in Louisville, Kentucky-Illinois earn $115,640. Census Bureau data shows that median monthly housing costs across both homeowners and renters are roughly $950. As a result, housing costs make up only 9.82% of average financial advisor earnings, the fourth-lowest rate in our study. Additionally, financial advisor pay relative to average pay is the eighth highest overall, at 2.21.

7. Jacksonville, FL

Across the four metrics we considered, Florida’s Jacksonville ranks best for the comparison of average financial advisor pay to average pay for all workers. BLS data from 2021 shows that financial advisors in the Jacksonville metro area earn $120,130 on average while median earnings for all workers is $51,910. Jacksonville also ranks 16th-best for housing costs as a percentage of financial advisor pay, 11.25%.

8. Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX (Tie)

Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas ranks in the top 20 metro areas for all four metrics. In 2021, average financial advisor earnings in the area stood at almost $120,800. This is almost 18% higher than average financial advisor earnings in 2019 and 2.09 times higher than average pay for all workers. Finally, median annual housing costs make up only 12.00% of average advisor pay.

8. Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI (Tie)

Across the four metrics in our study, Michigan’s Detroit-Warren-Dearborn ranks best for housing costs as a percentage of financial advisor pay. Using data from the Census Bureau and BLS, we found that median annual housing costs make up an average of less than 11% of pay for financial advisors - the seventh-lowest rate in our study. Pay for advisors is also increasing. From 2019 to 2021, average earnings for financial advisors rose by 13.84%, which is 15th-most across all 50 metro areas.

8. Providence-Warwick, RI-MA (Tie)

Providence-Warwick, Rhode Island-Massachusetts ranks in the top 15 metro areas for two metrics: average financial advisor pay ($122,300) and two-year change in advisor pay (15.99%). Financial advisors in Providence-Warwick also earn about twice as much as the average worker in the area.

Data and Methodology

To find the best-paying places for financial advisors, we looked at data on 50 of the largest U.S. metro areas. We compared those cities across four metrics:

  • Average financial advisor pay. This is average financial advisor earnings. Data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics release.
  • Two-year change in financial advisor pay. This is the percentage change in average financial advisor earnings from 2019 to 2021. Data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May 2019 and May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics releases.
  • Financial advisor pay relative to average pay. This is the ratio of average financial advisor earnings to average earnings for all workers in the metro area. Data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics release.
  • Housing costs as a percentage of financial advisor pay. This is median annual housing costs divided by average financial advisor earnings. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2020 5-year American Community Survey and the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics release.

We ranked each metro area in every metric, giving an equal weighting to all four metrics. We then found each metro area’s average ranking and used that average to determine a final score. The metro area with the best average ranking received a score of 100. The metro area with the lowest average ranking received a score of 0.

Tips for Growing Your Financial Advisory Business

  • Let us be your organic growth partner. One way financial advisors can earn more is by expanding their client base. If you are looking to capitalize on increased demand for financial advice in the current volatile market, take a look at our SmartAdvisor platform. We match certified financial advisors with validated, high-intent clients throughout the U.S.
  • Expand your radius. SmartAsset’s recent survey shows that many advisor expect to continue meeting with clients remotely following COVID-19. Consider broadening your search and working with investors who are more comfortable with less frequent in-person meetings.

Questions about our study? Contact us at press@smartasset.com

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/Kerkez

Stephanie Horan, CEPF® Stephanie Horan is a data journalist at SmartAsset. A Certified Educator of Personal Finance (CEPF®), she sources and analyzes data to write studies relating to a variety of topics including mortgage, retirement and budgeting. Before coming to SmartAsset, she worked as an analyst at an asset management firm. Stephanie graduated from Williams College with a degree in Mathematics. Originally from Philadelphia, she has always been a Yankees fan and currently lives in New York.
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