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Image shows a couple speaking to a wealth advisor about their long-term financial goals.

A wealth advisor is a type of financial advisor who serves mostly high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth individuals. This means they are usually working with very large amounts money for these clients. If you are looking to find a financial advisor, consider using SmartAsset’s free financial advisor matching service.

Wealth Advisors Services

The main goal of a wealth advisor is to analyze your financial situation and offer a holistic plan that is specific to you as the client. A wealth advisor won’t simply offer investment advice, for example, but try to understand how investing fits into your broader financial plan.

They might offer financial planning, investment management, retirement planning, charitable contribution planning, tax planning and estate planning — all rolled into one large and far-reaching plan. While wealth managers don’t necessarily have training or expertise in all these topics, they will usually work with other experts or representatives who work with the client (such as tax preparers and lawyers) to create a full-fledged plan.

Wealth advisors are different from investment managers or portfolio managers in that investment managers will provide personalized advice to handle a client’s investment portfolios. Asset managers work along those lines, focusing on investments such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, etc. And their aim is to grow the money of the investor. While these types of advice and financial decisions do affect larger financial health and situations, the wealth management done by a wealth advisor aims to look at the overall financial situation in order to maximize wealth and protect it down the line.

Certifications That Wealth Advisors Hold

Image shows several cardboard boxes with various labels. Four boxes in the background are labeled "REITs," "ETFs," STOCKS" and "MUTUAL FUNDS." The one box in the foreground is labeled "WEALTH MANGEMENT."

Some of the certifications that wealth advisors hold include:

Strategies that wealth advisors use will always match risk tolerance, time horizon and financial goals, taking into account the various factors that affect financial decisions.

How Much Does a Wealth Advisor Cost?

Fee schedules are important for any potential client to learn about. Fees for a wealth advisor will vary based on the provider. There may be certain annual flat fees, fees based on assets under management (AUM) and other kinds of fees client is responsible for. Minimum account sizes are also important considerations when choosing a wealth advisor. Even if you don’t have millions, some wealth management firms require a smaller minimum amount, such as $250,000.

When and How to Hire a Wealth Advisor

The kind of professional financial help that you might need depends on your individual situation. If you don’t have a high net worth and want more tailored financial advice on a specific topic, it might be more worth it to get a financial planner or investment manager too support your needs. But if you have a high net worth and need support across your whole financial plan and preserving your wealth long term, it may be more beneficial to seek out the services of a wealth advisor. Again, minimum account requirements may vary, allowing you to still use their services without having tens of millions of dollars.

Word of mouth can be a fairly efficient way to find a wealth advisor, as you might be able to find trustworthy recommendations from other financial professionals you already know from the banks or other financial institutions you already have relationships with, or people in your circles who might be able to refer you. Internet searches can help, but they’re often too broad to get any specific sense of an advisor or the firm they work for. To help narrow down your search, you might wish to consult an online matching tool like SmartAsset’s.

Bottom Line

Image shows a client speaking to a wealth advisor about long-term goals for preserving their wealth.

A wealth advisor manages assets for high-net-worth clients. Their services are usually more comprehensive than those of a standalone portfolio manager or tax preparer. Whether you need one will depend on your specific goals, but it’s important to do your research before you entrust the future of your wealth to someone.

Tips for Long-Term Financial Planning

  • Whether you are thinking about working with a wealth manager or a financial planner, it’s good to understand what your options are. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors in your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • Determining your overall estate planning needs is an important step to make sure that your financial affairs are in order – especially if something happens to you and you aren’t able to make your own decisions. Use our comprehensive estate planning guide to understand all of the components of estate planning.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/kali9, ©iStock.com/William_Potter, ©iStock.com/Thomas_EyeDesign

Nadia Ahmad, CEPF® Nadia Ahmad is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®) and a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing (SABEW). Her interest in taxes and grammar makes writing about personal finance a perfect fit! Nadia has spent ten years working as a seasonal income tax assistant, researching federal, state and local tax code and assisting in preparing tax returns. Nadia has a degree in English and American Literature from New York University and has served as an instructor/facilitator for a variety of writing workshops in the NYC area.
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