A financial advisor can give valuable insight into what you should be doing with your money to reach your financial goals. But they don’t offer their advice for free. While the typical annual financial advisor fee is thought to be 1%, according to a study by Advisory HQ, the average financial advisor fee is 0.59% to 1.18% per year. However, rates typically decrease the more money you invest with them. So you might be wondering whether it’s worth paying a financial advisor, but that answer is very personal to you. If you want help finding a financial advisor, try using SmartAsset’s free matching tool.
What Financial Advisors Do
Generally speaking, financial advisors help you to manage your money. They work with you in creating a financial plan designed for your unique goals. For example, that might include saving $1 million for retirement. Also, it could involve building a college savings fund so your children can graduate without student loan debt.
What a specific advisor does can vary. It depends on whether they specialize in a particular area of money management or hold any financial certifications. For instance, a certified financial planner (CFP) typically offers comprehensive financial advice to their clients.
Since these advisors take a broad look at your financial situation, they could help you with things like creating a debt payoff plan and building emergency savings. In the long term, CFPs can also help you plan whether you have enough life insurance coverage and know what investments belong in your retirement strategy.
A financial advisor who holds a chartered financial analyst (CFA) designation, on the other hand, may focus on investment advice. They could help with picking stocks or mutual funds. Also, they might assist with strategic portfolio moves or stock market analysis. Which financial advisor you work with largely hinges on what you need them to do. Your choice can also determine whether you pay 1% for a financial advisor, more than that or less.
Financial Advisors vs. Financial Planners
As discussed above, a financial advisor can provide a wide range of services to you in order to grow or protect your wealth. A financial planner is one type of financial advisor that is commonly used for their specialty of creating a comprehensive financial plan to help you achieve your long-term financial goals. Some financial planners also help you manage your investments but it’s not always the case.
Is It Worth Paying a Financial Advisor 1%?
If you’re already working with an advisor, the simplest way to determine whether a 1% fee is reasonable may be to look at what they’ve helped you accomplish. For example, if they’ve consistently helped you to earn a 12% return in your portfolio for five years running, then 1% may be a bargain. The same could be true if they’ve helped you to finally pay off a large amount of debt or reach a major money goal.
This can be a trickier benchmark to use if you’re not working with an advisor yet. In that case, perhaps check the advisor’s track record and reputation and answer “Is it worth paying a financial advisor?” An advisor with rave reviews from current or past clients has a mark in their favor. They’re earning their keep, fee-wise.
If you don’t have an advisor yet and you’re concerned about fees, it’s important to understand your goals. If you have very basic financial management needs, then consider an advisor that charges lower fees or only charges by the hour. However, you may want to choose a robo-advisor to start, then move to a traditional financial advisor as your needs change.
What Percentage Fee Is Too High for a Financial Advisor?
The answer to how much is too much when looking at financial advisor fees is really subjective. If you’re getting a return that you feel is worth the fee then you may not be paying too much. Many may ask “Is 1.5% too much?” and the answer is that it depends.
While 1.5% is on the higher end for financial advisor services, if that’s what it takes to get the returns you want then it’s not overpaying, so to speak. Staying around 1% for your fee may be standard but it certainly isn’t the high end. You need to decide what you’re willing to pay for what you’re receiving.
Can I Manage My Money on My Own?
Whether you can manage your own money is going to depend on your financial knowledge and experience with different types of investments. It will also depend on how much money you have to invest. If you have strong financial acumen, and experience investing, then you might be fine investing your own money. If you have less than $50,000 of liquid assets then you may also want to consider going at it on your own as the fees might not be worth it.
With that said, financial advisors can bring a wealth of information and experience to the table that can make a huge difference in your potential return. If you have a substantial amount of money or just don’t have the required experience then you may want to consider hiring a financial advisor to take care of your assets.
How Long Should You Stay With a Financial Advisor?
The length of time that you work with a financial advisor can impact both how much you’ll pay as well as how well you can potentially meet your financial goals. If you have a long-term retirement plan with your advisor but don’t work with them for more than a year or two then it could be difficult to keep any momentum that you’ve built going for much longer than that.
The right decision is going to depend on your unique financial situation and how much you can afford to pay an advisor. If all goes well then the length of time shouldn’t be an issue to you, financially, because the returns can more than pay for the advisor’s contributions.
How Financial Advisors Make Money
Financial advisors don’t all offer the same type of financial advice. They don’t all use the same fee schedule either. Depending on the advisor, their fee structure may be put together in one of these six common ways:
Fee-only advisors charge based on the services they offer. So they might charge you by the hour or as a percentage of your assets. They also may use a retainer fee on a flat fee basis for individual services.
A fee-based advisor makes money by charging a combination of fees and earning commissions on investments and financial products. So you might pay your advisor the average hourly fee of $120 to $300 per hour, according to Advisory HQ. But you may also pay them a commission fee each time you purchase an investment they recommend. This commission often deducts directly from the amount you invest.
Keep in mind that these fees apply to human financial advisors. If you’re using a robo-advisor, the fees work differently.
Robo-Advisors vs. Financial Advisors
Robo-advisors offer financial advice that’s based on an algorithm. Some offer human financial advisor support. However, most of the time a computer program essentially manages your investments. Since there’s less hands-on human involvement, robo-advisors tend to charge fewer fees than traditional financial advisors.
For example, instead of paying a hypothetical 1% in fees annually to a human advisor, you might pay 0.25% to 0.50%, which is what the Advisory HQ study found the typical robo-advisory fee range to be. However, it depends on the number of assets you have under management. Some robo-advisors can charge fees that are lower or higher, but 0.25% to 0.50% is a typical fee range.
If you’re asking “is it worth paying a financial advisor 1%,” robo-advisors may seem like an attractive cost-saving alternative. But ask yourself what level of service and advice do you expect for your money.
If you’re comfortable with a hands-off investment experience where an algorithm drives decisions, then a robo-advisor could be a less expensive option. You may also lean toward a robo-advisor if you’re new to investing. Some platforms charge no management or advisory fees for investors whose assets fall below a certain threshold.
On the other hand, you may prefer to have someone who can answer your questions. Also, you might make adjustments to your portfolio based on life changes or seek advice on specific investments. A human advisor can deliver that. Only you can decide whether an advisor’s help and advice justifies the fees you’re paying.
When weighing an advisor’s fee, consider your desired return on investment. Ask an advisor if they’re fee-based or fee-only. Question any advisor who doesn’t share information about fees. Review the fees you’re paying annually and compare them to the services you’re receiving. That can indicate if your advisor is still a good fit. It can also help to compare the fees of your advisor with others who offer similar services.
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