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Financial Advisor

May 15, 2018 You’re working, earning and growing your financial worth. You might be considering whether you need a financial advisor to make the best money decisions. Although the financial advisor term is bandied about quite a bit, there’s a wide range of certifications and job responsibilities for financial advisors. This article explains what financial advisors do, their qualifications, the differences between various financial advisors, how they are compensated and whether you need a financial advisor or not. Read More...

Oct 17, 2018 A sophisticated investment plan can mean an early retirement or just a retirement without financial stress. And whether they are relying on the expertise of a financial advisor to manage their finances or going it alone, Americans are, indeed, investing to grow their wealth. According to IRS data, Americans reported earning $613 billion in passive income in 2016. That makes their investment gains equal to about 8% of the salary and wage income earned in the U.S. during the same period. That $613 billion, however, is not spread evenly across the country.  Read More...

Oct 16, 2018 Are you asking yourself, do I need a financial advisor? The short answer is yes, you probably do. A financial advisor is a professional who can assist you with your finances in a number of ways. This expert can help with investing, financial planning, retirement planning and more. Obviously not every single person needs a financial advisor. However, if you have a certain level of investable assets and are thinking about your financial future, working with a financial advisor is key. This guide below walks you through what financial advisors do and why they’re important. Plus, it examines exactly who will be well-served by working with a financial advisor. Read More...

Oct 10, 2018 Trick-or-treating is a high-reward, low-risk undertaking. That's why people in the U.S. are particularly spirited about grabbing their pillow cases and hitting the streets. In fact, FiveThirtyEight data shows around a quarter of Americans count Halloween among their top-five favorite holidays. And what’s not to love? For kids, it’s a time of shameless candy-binging and dressing up, and for adults, well, it’s much of the same. But depending on where you live, you could have a great trick-or-treating experience, with candy to last a year, or a negative one that leaves you with just apples and sore calves. The benefits of a great trick-or-treating town are more than just theoretical. Places with a high density of single-family homes, a low chance of rain and minimal crime will optimize your experience. That mirrors the reasoning Read More...

Oct 04, 2018 Around 30% of workers nationwide do not have access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. For these workers, independent retirement accounts like Roth IRAs or SEP IRAs are crucial investment vehicles for building their nest eggs. These accounts also provide tax-advantaged opportunities for workers with employer-sponsored plans to sock away additional money for retirement, which can come in handy as Americans live longer and the cost of healthcare rises. Given the increasing importance of saving for retirement, SmartAsset decided to dig into IRS data to find the places where residents are using independent retirement accounts the most. Read More...

Oct 04, 2018 Famously, Apple started out of a garage with little up-front cash. But your typical startup requires more than just a some empty space and a brilliant idea. To create a successful company, you need some money to pay for office space, employees and everyday bills from utilities to legal fees. This can dampen entrepreneurs' ability to bring their business ideas to life especially if they don't have much capital in their savings account. Imagine trying to start a new company in San Francisco with its exorbitant cost of living. Below we look at a slew of factors to rank the cities with the lowest and highest startup costs in the country. Read More...

Sep 26, 2018 Who doesn’t want to retire early. Getting to retire in your 50s or early 60s can mean being able to do some of the things you’ve always dreamed of while you still have some youthful energy. But retiring early requires a ton of planning and preparation. One great strategy for retiring early, that many financial advisors would recommend, is to retire somewhere affordable. Retiring somewhere tax-friendly with a low cost of living can stretch your earnings enough that you can retire a few years early. Read More...

Sep 26, 2018 Just 24% of taxpayers reported a charitable gift on their tax returns in 2015, according to a study from "The Chronicle of Philanthropy." That’s down from a decade earlier when that figure routinely reached 30%. And though fewer people may be giving out of the good of their hearts and working with a  financial advisor to use these contributions to reduce their tax liabilities, Americans in certain places are punching above their weight in generosity. Read More...

Sep 24, 2018 Money management is important for anyone, especially those who make a decent salary but aren't financial experts. If you don’t manage your money correctly, you could find that all of your hard work during your career may not result in the blissful retirement you'd hoped for when you reach your golden years. Read More...

Sep 18, 2018 When people picture the home of their dreams, they imagine the white picket fence, the yard and the home with plenty of rooms for both pets and children. But homes like this tend to be either expensive or located in places far from employment opportunities. Plus, even if you do find a home that fits your criteria you want to make sure you're putting your savings into an asset that will appreciate. And without doing a ton of research, it's hard to know if you’re buying into an area with rising home values or not. Below, we look at these and other factors to rank the best places to buy a home big enough to raise a family. Read More...

Sep 17, 2018 If you’ve ever filed your tax returns on your own before, you know what a hassle it can be. You also know why so many people turn to tax preparers or financial advisors to help them navigate the morass of forms and exemptions. The thing is, not all tax professionals are created equal. Depending on the specific certification, the tax preparer you work with may have restrictions on who he or she can represent. One type of tax professional who doesn’t have to worry about these restrictions is an enrolled agent (EA). Enrolled agent status is the highest credential you can receive from the IRS. Read on… Read More...

Sep 18, 2018 Different regions have particular strengths. Silicon Valley is a tech hub of course, the Midwest is known for its agriculture and the Gulf Coast has long had a lucrative oil industry. But if you want to have employment in a thriving part of the local economy, it's a good idea to know what each area’s specialty will be tomorrow. By having an idea about what kind of businesses are growing the fastest, you’ll be more informed about how secure employment in a field that will help you generate wealth that you can build with your financial advisor. Below we look at Census Bureau data to find the fastest-growing business type in every state. Read More...

Sep 12, 2018 Investing in your education is one of the best decisions you can make. A better education can lead to a better job. In turn, that leads to higher earnings, which can eventually lead to growing your wealth with a  financial advisor. But depending on where you live you may not get as much of a chance to educate yourself. Some states and their residents invest more in local education from funding high-quality middle and high schools to paying teachers competitive wages. Read More...

Sep 05, 2018 The key to a financially secure retirement is the planning. Whether with the steadying hand of a financial advisor to guide you to your golden years, or strategizing on your own, planning your retirement does take time and can be difficult. Some seniors, knowing they have not saved enough to retire in their current locale, plan to move to lower cost of living areas. Some seniors on the other hand have prepared themselves to live in more expensive states and can afford the higher cost of living without slipping into poverty. However the degree to which seniors are prepared for life without work varies by state. Read More...

Aug 30, 2018 It can almost be impossible to avoid stressing out. You have a mortgage to pay, you’re concerned your investments with your financial advisor aren’t getting the returns you need for your retirement or you just can’t stick to your budget. But while all of these factors exist in every city to some degree, it is also true that living in a less stressful environment can help you deal with other anxiety-inducing parts of life. So in order to highlight those rare zen-fostering zones, we have ranked the least-stressed cities in America. Read More...

Aug 28, 2018 With rents on the rise in many of America’s trendiest cities it has become increasingly popular for residents looking to earn some side money to invest in the short-term rental market. Indeed, the returns these rental properties can offer are robust. But as more investors take their share of the rental market pie and offer it to incoming tourists, it leaves fewer options for local, long-term renters and causes rental prices to squeeze further upwards. In response, some cities like New York have started looking into regulating the short-term rental market, with their crosshairs focused primarily on Airbnb. Read More...

Aug 22, 2018 Like any good financial advisor will tell you, investing is about more than just average return. The best investors weigh risk with reward. For example, consider home values. The Census Bureau estimates that the median home in the U.S. increased in value by $10,500 from 2015 to 2016. But that's just the average increase. Some homeowners made more, some made less and some even lost money on their mortgages. Knowing exactly how your home’s value will change in the future is impossible, but with a little research you can get a better idea of the risks that come with investing in any city's housing market. Read More...

Aug 21, 2018 How you start your career is an important determinant for future financial success. Young professionals who are able to find a high-paying career earlier are able to build more savings, get promoted earlier and have more long-term, financial flexibility. Where you start is also important. Some cities have affordable housing that allows young professionals to invest in the housing market or lets them rent while investing their savings with a financial advisor. Other cities offer a wide range of job opportunities, meaning young adults are not stuck in dead-end jobs they don’t enjoy. Read More...

Sep 06, 2018 Betterment is a robo-advisor that allows investors to create and manage their investment portfolios online. Whether you're building wealth for retirement or other financial reasons, Betterment functions as your digital investing solution. With more than $10 billion in assets under management, the company offers a range of online services, including two investing accounts, tax-loss harvesting features and competitive management fees. But should you use it? Is Betterment safe? Below, we take a closer look at Betterment's products and services to show you why it's a safe choice. Read More...

Aug 16, 2018 According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the price of college tuition increased by 63% from 2006 to 2016. Over that same time period, the median household income in the United States increased by only 19%. This makes college more expensive than ever for the average family. However, there are efficient ways that you can save for your children's education. One example is through  529 plans. These are tax-advantaged savings plans designed to help people save money for schooling. Every state has its own plan or set of plans, but they are all a little different and vary in popularity. For example, some are actively managed, utilizing a Read More...

Oct 19, 2018 If you're looking to minimize your tax liability and capitalize on tax deductions, a tax consultant could help you do just that. Tax consultants, or tax advisors, are professionals with expertise in tax law, tax returns and financial planning. These advisors ultimately help their clients make well-informed financial decisions when it comes to tax-related issues. If you're still not exactly sure about what these consultants do, don't worry. We'll explain. Below, we highlight the key responsibilities a tax consultant has along with the costs of working with one. Read More...

Sep 11, 2018 In 2016 the IRS reported that it collected nearly $18.3 billion in estate taxes, from more than 5,200 estates. That is an average tax of $3.5 million per taxable estate. While the estate tax is a punishing one-off payment, the wealthy can also see their annual tax burden pile up due to income and property taxes. The size of the tax burden varies wildly by state however, making it advantageous for the wealthy to live in one state over another. For example, some states have higher income taxes or higher estate taxes. Wealthy Americans without access to expert financial advice, such as from a  financial advisor, can find themselves paying sizable portions of their income to the tax collectors. Read More...

Aug 02, 2018 The term "fiduciary" is a good thing to hear if you’re searching for a financial advisor. Perhaps you’ve heard it in the news in connection to the debate over the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule, or maybe it cropped up as you were choosing a financial advisor. Financial advisors who are fiduciaries hold a relationship of trust with their clients and abide by fiduciary duty. Fiduciary duty is the ethical obligation to act solely in someone else’s best interest. In theory, this should minimize conflicts of interest and make a financial advisor more trustworthy. Read on to learn more about what a fiduciary is and what fiduciary duty entails, as well as how to find a fiduciary financial advisor to work with. Read More...

Oct 12, 2018 If you're starting to think about getting ready for retirement or you're approaching a major life transition, it might be the right time to hire a financial advisor. A financial advisor can help you with everything from creating a financial plan to managing and building your wealth. Of course, finding a financial advisor is easier said than done. Not all financial advisors are alike, so you'll want to be sure to do your homework to ensure you end up working with someone who is trustworthy and suits your needs. As you’re weighing your options, these are the 10 questions to ask a financial advisor to decide if this is the person you want to manage your money. Read More...

Aug 02, 2018 As you strive to reach your financial goals and prepare for retirement, you may consider turning to a financial advisor. But you may be wondering: How much does a financial advisor cost? Generally, financial advisors charge a flat fee of $1,500 to $2,500 for the one-time creation of a full financial plan, or 1% to 2% of assets under management for ongoing portfolio management. However, fee rates and compensation structures differ from advisor to advisor. That can make it challenging to figure out how much you’re paying and if you’re getting a fair deal when you're trying to find a financial advisor. Here’s what you need to know to make sure you fully understand financial advisor fees before you… Read More...

Aug 01, 2018 The majority of Americans find meeting their retirement goals a challenge. After all, the financial world is complicated. Many Americans miss the opportunity to save, which means they miss the chance to invest - whether that's alone or with the expert guidance of a financial advisor. Without the gains from investing, it is almost impossible to save enough for retirement. Census Bureau data shows that retirement-aged Americans across the country struggle to find affordable housing. Read More...

Sep 10, 2018 It’s a pretty good time to be a worker in America. For the most part, jobs are available and unemployment is on the decline. But availability of jobs alone does not mean a city is a good place to start a career. The cities with the best career opportunities combine high pay, strong support networks and affordable homes. This leaves workers with the opportunity to not only have a fulfilling career but also a chance to hit financial milestones like owning a home or investing with a financial advisor. Read More...

Jul 24, 2018 With tuition increasing at a steady pace and student loan debt reaching record highs, many parents struggle finding ways to lower the price of higher education. But a 529 college savings plan can help. These tax-friendly savings vehicles offer a range of perks. Below, we explore 529 plan benefits in detail. But first, we’ll explain exactly what they are. Read More...

Sep 05, 2018 Whether you're investing in mutual funds or simply looking to transform your wealth with a financial plan, you may be considering working with a financial advisor. Investment advisors and financial planners are two of the most common types of financial advisors that clients work with. These advisors ultimately offer guidance on different financial topics, but one thing they have in common is your money. If you're thinking about working with one of these advisors, it's important that you understand what the two offer and how they differ.  Read More...

Oct 18, 2018 After years of investing in your children’s college education, you’re ready to reach into your 529 college savings plan and send your kid off to the best years of his or her life. But while making 529 plan withdrawals is as simple as clicking a few buttons, the consequences are complex. Missteps could trigger tax penalties. So you should consider a few points before you tap into your savings. Below, we’ll walk you through the process of making 529 plan withdrawals the right way. You’ve worked hard for your savings. Now it’s time for your 529 plan to work for you and your children.  Read More...

Jul 13, 2018 The average full-time working woman earns 82% of what the average full-time working man earns, according to BLS data. The good news is that the gender pay gap is shrinking. The bad news is that the narrowing of the gap comes too late for women who started and ended their careers when the pay gap was worse. That wide difference in earnings has hurt women’s ability to meet their financial goals. Read More...

Aug 07, 2018 It's exciting to know you're going to be bringing a new member into the family. Decorating the baby's nursery, buying children's books and finding that perfect stroller are all important. But, what's more important is whether you're ready for the financial costs that come with having a baby. Both pregnancy and birth require a lot of medical attention. In other words, you won't be charged for the birth alone. The pregnancy itself is filled with costs that accompany the numerous doctor's visits, tests and procedures you may have. Therefore, you'll want to make sure you have enough financial cushion before you decide to have a child. Read More...

Jun 18, 2018 Whether you are working with a  financial advisor or managing a portfolio on your own, making the right investments can make all the difference in your future financial security. Make too many risky investments and you might lose out on your retirement income, don’t take on enough risk and you may not accumulate enough funds to retire comfortably. Read More...

Sep 12, 2018 If you're getting started in investing, an investment broker can be a great asset as your connection to the market. Investment brokers serve as go-betweens for buyers and sellers on the stock market. They enable their clients to purchase stocks, bonds and other securities from the exchanges.  Read More...

May 23, 2018 Investing is never easy, and trying to figure everything out on your own can be incredibly stressful. That's why many people hire a professional financial advisor who understands the market and can make smart investment choices for you. But the tough part is finding someone you actually trust, that understands your long term financial goals. SmartAsset has built a way to address this problem, making it easier than ever to find the right financial advisor who understands the market and can help you achieve your financial goals. Of course, it's easy to be skeptical about finding a financial advisor online, so here's everything personal investors need to know about our SmartAdvisor matching program. How does SmartAsset find the right advisor? When you visit the SmartAsset site, you're invited to answer a series of questions. The questionnaire only takes a few minutes, and helps… Read More...

Oct 18, 2018 Even if you don't know what ERISA means, you've likely seen it the word when doing research into how to plan for retirement. Fear not, though, because it’s pretty simple. ERISA is a law designed to help protect you and your money as you look towards your golden years. Read More...

Sep 05, 2018 Even if you understand every tax law and investment strategy out there, it’s always helpful to get support from an expert. Luckily, there are plenty of financial professionals eager to offer their counsel. In fact, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) defines 183 professional designations on its website. Some titles are more generic while others require specific experience and educational qualifications. Financial advisors and financial planners are two of the most popular titles. Read More...

Sep 05, 2018 If you need help getting your finances in order or learning the basics of budgeting, you might consider seeking the help of a financial coach. A financial coach is different from other financial professionals. They spend more time helping their clients understand the fundamentals of finances, rather than recommending investments and managing portfolios like financial advisors. Read on to learn more about financial coaches, what they do and how to become one. Read More...

Oct 18, 2018 Financial goals are like New Year’s resolutions: easier said than done. Building a financial plan can help bridge the gap between what you want to accomplish and what becomes a reality. A financial plan outlines the steps you should take to achieve your goals, reaffirming that your desired future is attainable. Unfortunately, most of us lack the time and know-how to develop a financial plan. That’s where financial professionals come in, offering advice and recommendations on everything from budgeting to retirement savings and investing. Read More...

Sep 06, 2018 Managing your finances doesn’t have to be a solo mission. Financial advisors provide expert advice and recommendations on everything from budgets to investments. In fact, industry experts say that people with financial advisors are twice as likely to meet their retirement goals. But not every advisor will fit your needs, and it can actually be quite difficult to choose. Read More...

May 15, 2018 Money affects basically every aspect of our lives. However, learning to properly manage your money isn’t always easy to do. So how can you learn about personal finance while also getting advice that applies to your specific financial situation? One strategy is to work with a financial advisor. A financial advisor can help you create and execute a financial plan no matter where you are in your life.  This can get expensive though. Luckily, if you can’t afford a financial advisor, there are free tools, calculators and software that can act almost like having a free financial advisor. Read More...

May 30, 2018 Chartered financial analyst, or CFA, and certified financial planner, or CFP, are common certifications for individuals working in finance. These certifications are designed to tell a client (and employer) that the holder knows what they're doing and is qualified to do certain types of work. The certification processes require applicants to have different amounts of experience and education. There is overlap in the occupations you can have, but holders tend to go down different career paths. Read More...

May 15, 2018 Your money is important. As you strive to reach your financial goals, you may consider turning to a financial advisor. But expertise comes at a cost. Fees and compensation structures differ from advisor to advisor, which can make it challenging for investors to figure out what's best for them. Here's what you need to know to make sure you fully understand financial advisor fees before you hire an expert. Read More...

Jul 13, 2018 Ever heard of the financial services industry? Even if you haven’t, you’ve probably interacted with this industry almost every day. You might think it just means working with a financial advisor. But in reality, whether you’re an investor, a homeowner, a credit cardholder or even just a simple savings account holder, you’ve worked with the financial services industry. But what is the financial services industry exactly? It involves so many aspects of our finances, so let's take a look. Read More...

May 15, 2018 A financial advisor provides financial guidance on everything from monthly budgeting to investing in the stock market. Many financial advisors find it rewarding to help others take control of their finances. But that certainly doesn't mean they work for free. The average salary for a financial advisor was $90,530 in 2016 - well above the national average. Job prospects in the field are also good with employment expected to grow by almost 30% from 2014 to 2024. Read More...

Aug 02, 2018 The first step towards getting financial help is recognizing that you need it. The second step is figuring out exactly why you need help. Do you need help with your retirement savings? Do you want to start investing? Answering those questions will lead you into the third step: finding a financial advisor. This step isn't easy with so many financial advisors out there. But a good start would be to find yourself a fee-only financial planner. Read More...

Apr 13, 2018 Do you have a budget? Do you follow it? If you answered no, you're not alone. According to NAPFA, 60% of U.S. adults don't have a budget and less than 50% of Americans have a purposeful savings plan. Luckily, financial advisors exist and can help you get out of your budget-less rut. You'll have to be careful about who you pick, though, since not all financial advisors act in your best interest. Some act in their self-interest instead to make more money. Read More...

May 15, 2018 So you’ve decided to start working with a financial advisor. Good for you! But even after narrowing down a list of possible advisors, deciding on one can still be difficult. Wondering how to choose a financial advisor? Here are some factors to remember so you can find the best one for you. Read More...

Aug 02, 2018 When it comes to choosing a financial advisor, you want to pick carefully. A financial advisor can be key to helping you determine and achieve your financial goals and get ready for retirement. But not all financial advisors are equal. It's worth devoting time and effort to finding a financial advisor you can trust and will want to work with for years to come. Here's a guide to how to find a financial advisor and what to consider when you choose a financial advisor. Read More...

Apr 13, 2018 Investing can be an intimidating endeavor with all its terminology and the complexities of the market. But you shouldn't let that stop you. Investing provides a great way to grow your money. There are some risks associated with investing due to the volatility of the market to be sure. However, you can count on certain agencies, laws and financial advisors to help you succeed. That's where FINRA comes in. Read More...

May 18, 2018 When it comes to planning for the future, you may not even know where to start. On top of planning for retirement, there are potential expenses like college for your children. This is where a financial plan can help. It identifies your financial goals and outlines the steps to achieve them. A concrete plan helps quell any nerves about the future and lets you work toward your goals. Read More...

May 15, 2018 For someone seeking to get a start on major money projects, hiring a financial planner is a good first step. A financial planner will first assess her client's financial situation. Then, she will develop a comprehensive plan for money management and working toward a savings goal. This is great to have - but how much does a financial planner cost? The answer depends on on a few factors, including how the planner charges for her work and whether her advisement will be one-time or ongoing. Read More...

Sep 17, 2018 When you are looking around for a financial adviser to hire, you're likely to encounter an assortment of initials after each financial professional's name. CFA, CPA, CLU. These letters signify different financial certifications. Curious to know more? Read on and allow us to explain. A matching tool like SmartAsset's can help you find a financial professional who meets your specific needs. Read More...

Sep 05, 2018 If you feel like you haven't gotten it all figured out financially, don't worry. You're not alone! It's hard enough to keep track of our professional and personal lives. Add in planning for the future and many of us just don't have the time or know-how. From budgeting to student loans,  retirement savings to taxes, insurance to investing and more, our finances are pretty complex. Luckily, there are certified financial planners who can help. Read More...

Apr 13, 2018 Think you want to help people manage their money and meet their financial goals? If so, you may be wondering how to become a financial planner. The process for becoming a financial planner varies depending on what kind of planner you want to be. Let us walk you through your options.  Read More...

Apr 13, 2018 When you're trying to build wealth, having an expert in your corner to help guide your decisions could be a good idea. The problem is, what do you do when you and your advisor are no longer on the same page? If you've been with your advisor for a while and you're thinking about making a change, here are four signs it's finally time to show them to the door. Read More...

Jul 10, 2018 If you've been paying down your debt for years but can't seem to get ahead or you're not sure how to get started saving for retirement, it might be time to get professional help. A financial advisor can answer all your money-related questions and offer advice on the best way to manage your finances. But not all financial professionals are alike. It's important to look for one whose qualifications and experience are right for your situation. Read More...

Apr 13, 2018 When it comes to money, it often takes a team to help you manage it correctly, particularly once you start working full-time, saving for retirement and starting a family. Financial planning can be difficult to navigate and is often time consuming. One way to help navigate the terrain of financial planning and creating the financial freedom you want in your life, is to work with a financial advisor. While the role of financial advisors vary, their assistance can be very helpful when it comes to investing, retirement planning, tax information and more. There are numerous types of financial advisors and their… Read More...