Financial advisors in the U.S. tend to be on the older side. About 29% of financial advice professionals are between the ages 55 and 64, and another 12% are older than 65, according to market research firm Cerulli Associates. By contrast, only 16% of advisors are between the ages 35 and 44, and just 10% are younger than 35.
Though older workers dominate the financial advisor occupation, it is potentially enticing to young professionals as a growing and high-paying job. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment of personal financial advisors to grow 4% from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Additionally, the average annual earnings for advisors in 2019 was almost $119,300, more than two times the average annual earnings for all U.S. workers. What’s more, advisors may tailor their own practice to their strengths or interests and have a flexible work schedule.
Perhaps one of the biggest decisions a young financial advisor must make is where to set up shop. In this study, SmartAsset identified the best cities for young financial advisors to start their careers. We compared 100 of the largest U.S. cities across five metrics. Two of the metrics – average financial advisor earnings and rent as a percentage of average financial earnings – look at the job situation for financial advisors. The remaining three focus on the city’s relative demand for financial advisors. They include financial advisor search volume, percentage of high-earning households and percentage of the population nearing retirement, reflecting a more promising potential client base for local financial advisors. For details on our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our final rankings, check out the Data and Methodology section below.
- Coastal cities rank well. Seven of the top 10 cities on our list are located on either the East or West Coast. East Coast cities include New York, New York; Miami, Florida; Virginia Beach, Virginia and Chesapeake, Virginia. Meanwhile, all three West Coast cities are concentrated around San Francisco, including San Francisco proper, Oakland and Fremont.
- Virginia cities may be up-and-coming spots for financial advisors. Financial advisor employment in eight of the top 10 cities in our study is higher than the national average. However, Chesapeake, Virginia and Virginia Beach, Virginia both have location quotients less than one – meaning financial advisor employment is lower than the national average. Compared to our projected demand for them, the current lack of financial advisors in those two cities may indicate distinct opportunities for young advisors hoping to build a large client base.
1. New York, NY
The Big Apple ranks as the top spot for young financial advisors to start their careers. The average salary for financial advisors in New York City is more than $165,800, the highest in our study. Additionally, many high-earning residents seem to be looking for financial help. Census Bureau data from 2018 shows that 11.4% of households in New York City earn $200,000 or more annually, the 17th-highest percentage in our study, and financial advisors are being searched for 11 times more than average.
2. San Francisco, CA
Like New York City, California’s San Francisco ranks best for three metrics: its high average financial advisor earnings, financial advisor search volume and percentage of high-earning households. Financial advisors in the larger San Francisco metro area earn more than $157,700 on average – a top-five rate in our study. SmartAsset data shows that residents are searching for financial advisors two times more than average. Finally, almost 29% of households in the area earn $200,000 or more annually, indicating high potential demand for financial advisor services.
3. Chicago, IL
Young financial advisors may find Chicago, Illinois to be an appealing place to start their careers given high average earnings and low rent. The typical financial advisor in Chicago earns almost $150,000 per year, the 10th-highest rate in our study. Additionally, the median monthly rent in Chicago is $1,100, meaning that financial advisors on average spend less than 9% of their salary on rent.
If you live in the Windy City and are looking for financial help, take a look at our list of the best financial advisors in Chicago.
4. Charlotte, NC
Charlotte, North Carolina ranks in the top fourth of cities for four metrics: average financial advisor earnings, rent as a percentage of average financial advisor earnings, financial advisor search volume and percentage of high-earning households. We found that financial advisors in Charlotte earn $146,410 on average, and rent makes up about 9% of that figure. Residents in Charlotte are looking to find a financial advisor who suits their needs about 1.60 times more than average. In addition, about 9% of households earn $200,000 or more per year. Some 24% of the population in Charlotte is between ages 45 and 64, a demographic nearing retirement and thus potentially a more promising client base for financial advisors.
5. Oakland, CA
Oakland is the second of three California cities that make it into our top 10. It ranks in the top 10% of cities for two metrics: average financial advisor earnings and percentage of high-earning households. Financial advisors in Oakland make about $157,700 on average. Additionally, more than 15% of households earn $200,000 or more annually.
6. Miami, FL (Tie)
Demand for financial advisor services in Miami, Florida appears high. Close to 27% of residents in Miami are between the ages of 45 and 64, the second-highest rate in our top 10 and sixth-highest overall. Moreover, SmartAsset data shows that residents are looking for financial advisors 2.15 times more than they are on average across the 100 cities in our study.
6. Virginia Beach, VA (Tie)
Virginia Beach, Virginia ties with Miami, Florida as the sixth-best city for young financial advisors to start their careers. Virginia Beach has the seventh-highest average earnings for financial advisors, at almost $154,500. It additionally ranks in the top fourth of cities for the percentage of the population nearing retirement. The Census Bureau estimates that 24.7% of the population is between 45 and 64 years old.
8. Fremont, CA
Fremont, California is the smallest city that makes it into our top 10. In 2018, the city’s population was about 237,800, and though that’s smaller than other top-ranking locales, many households in Fremont fall into the primary categories of those driving financial advisor demand. Specifically, Fremont has the highest percentage of high-earning households and the fourth-highest percentage of the population nearing retirement, reflecting a potentially ready crop of clients in need of financial services. All told, 31.1% of households earned $200,000 or more in 2018, and 27.4% of residents were between the ages of 45 and 64.
9. Portland, OR
Portland, Oregon ranks in the top third of the study for four of the five metrics we considered. It has the 28th-highest average financial advisor earnings (about $117,800), 17th-highest financial advisor search volume (1.82 times more than average), 19th-highest percentage of high-earning households (10.2%) and 27th-highest percentage of residents nearing retirement (24.5%).
Portland ranks in the bottom half of the study on the final metric, rent as a percentage of average financial advisor earnings. Though rent in Portland is low relative to rates in other West Coast cities, it still clocks in above the national average. Census Bureau data from 2018 shows that the median monthly rent in Portland is almost $1,300. As a result, rent makes up more than 13% of average financial advisor earnings.
10. Chesapeake, VA
Chesapeake, Virginia rounds out our list of the top 10 cities for young financial advisors to start their careers. Financial advisors in Chesapeake have the seventh-highest average earnings in our study, at about $154,500. Additionally, rent makes up a small percentage of average financial advisor earnings (9.72%) and there is a large percentage of the population nearing retirement (26.1%).
Data and Methodology
To find the best cities for young financial advisors to start their careers, SmartAsset looked at data for 100 of the largest cities in the U.S. We compared these cities across five metrics:
- Average financial advisor earnings. This is reported at the metro area level by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Data is for May 2019.
- Rent as a percentage of average financial advisor earnings. This is the median annual rent divided by average financial advisor earnings. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2018 1-Year American Community Survey and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Financial advisor search volume. This is the search volume for financial advisors in each city compared to the average search volume for financial advisors across the 100 cities in our study. Data comes from SmartAsset’s financial advisor matching tool.
- Percentage of high-earning households. This is the percentage of households earning $200,000 or more. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2018 1-Year American Community Survey.
- Percentage of the population nearing retirement. This is the percentage of the population between the ages of 45 and 64. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2018 1-Year American Community Survey.
We ranked each city in every metric, giving full weighting to each. We then found each city’s average ranking and used the average to determine a final score. The city with the best average ranking received a score of 100. The city with the worst average ranking received a score of 0.
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