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Why do we need this information?

If you’re looking for a professional who can give you advice and guidance on your personal finances, our financial advisor matching tool can simplify and shorten the process. To get matched with a top advisor near you, we first have you answer a series of questions about your retirement plans, life status, investment preferences and the characteristics you desire in a financial counselor.

How Our Tool Finds a Financial Advisor Near You

Our matching algorithm then finds up to three advisors that best suit your needs. All of the professionals on our platform are U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)-registered and are required to be fiduciaries. Our advisors cannot have any regulatory disclosures within the last 10 years - anyone with severe infractions on their records are not permitted. Once you’re matched, you can expect to hear from your matches within a couple of business days.

What We Consider When Finding Your Financial Advisor

When you go through SmartAsset’s financial advisor matching questionnaire, questions cover one of four of themes: life status, specialization, investment preferences and advisor preferences. These themes are all important topics to consider when our tool matches you with a financial coach.

Your Life Status

Anyone - particularly those unfamiliar with how to budget and stick to a financial plan - can benefit from working with a financial counselor. At certain stages in life, however, an advisor’s advice is extra valuable. These moments typically revolve around big life shifts or changes, including:

  • When you get married or divorced
  • When you have a child
  • When you buy a home
  • When you start a business
  • When you're nearing retirement
  • When you receive a large amount of money
  • When you are figuring out how to pass on wealth

Another important consideration is how much you have in investable assets at your current stage in life. Some of our counselors specialize in serving high-net-worth individuals and require account minimums in the millions of dollars. Others have no set account minimum.

If you're just starting out or don't have a lot of money to invest, a robo-advisor could be a good option. Robo-advisors, which digitally manage your investment portfolio, typically have lower account minimums than traditional advisors and cost less. We recommend a robo-advisor to anyone who has less than $25,000.

Your Advisor Preferences

There are two main types of different types of financial advisors. You can opt for a traditional advisor, who you can sit down with in person, or a robo-advisor, which digitally manages your investment portfolio.

Here's how the two stack up:

Traditional Advisors Robo Advisors
Fees 1% - 3% of the value of your portfolio Less than 1% of the value of your portfolio
Account Minimums Varies; while some have no set account minimum, most require at least $250,000 or more Varies; some account minimums are as low as $0
Investment Strategies Typically customized portfolios that include a wide range of investments, including individual stocks Less flexible portfolio models that are typically limited to ETFs or low-cost index funds and don’t include individual stocks
Services
  • Can include financial planning, investment management and consulting services
  • Easy access to a dedicated advisor, with the option of in-person meetings
  • Often limited to investment services
  • Limited or no human contact, with communication typically limited to online interactions
Best For Someone who:
  • Has a large sum to invest
  • Prefers to be more involved in investing
  • Wants human interaction
Someone who:
  • Doesn't have a lot to invest
  • Wants a more hands-off approach to investing
  • Prefers to work online

Different Types of Traditional Advisors:

There are different subsets of financial advisors on the human side to consider, as well. A financial planner, for instance, is a subset of financial advisor who can help you analyze your current financial situation and create a plan for the future. A wealth manager will comprehensively manage your entire financial situation, combining financial planning with investment advice, tax services, retirement planning, estate planning, philanthropic planning and more. Our financial advisor matching planning includes those who are investment advisors and brokers, but who are bound by the fiduciary rule. Overall, our tool can help you find a:

  • Fiduciary financial advisor
  • Financial planner
  • Wealth manager
  • Investment advisor
  • Retirement advisor

Your Investment Preferences

When you complete our matching questionnaire, you’ll usually get matched with more than one counselor. That’s because it’s important to consider your options when you’re looking for the right financial advisor. We encourage you to talk to multiple matches before settling on one. Each has a unique process, investing philosophy, communication style and overall approach

One of the biggest differences between financial advisors is their investing philosophies. Some may abide by value investing, which seeks relatively undervalued stocks with the belief they will someday produce strong returns. Other investment advisors may prefer growth investing buys into companies with promising growth potential, while contrarian investing goes against the market majority.

Some may invest for the long term, which may be good if you’re far away from retirement. Others may emphasize short-term investments, which are good for people with shorter time horizons. An advisor offering socially responsible investing will consider your values and the greater social good alongside a financial return.

While many financial coaches will tailor your investing plan to suit your needs, you’ll want to consider your goals and objectives and time horizon, risk tolerance and objectives. Often, the first step in building a relationship with your financial coach is to sit down and figure this out, resulting in an investment plan.

What Specializations You Need

Depending on your life status or if you have a particular financial topic you want your advisor to address, you should take note of what specializations he or she has. In addition to giving you comprehensive guidance and advice on your personal finances, many financial professionals may also specialize in a certain area, such as:

  • Estate planning
  • Socially responsible investing
  • High-net-worth financial planning
  • Tax planning
  • Insurance
  • Divorce
  • Retirement

If you have retirement on your mind, for instance, you may want to see if the advisor specializes in retirement planning or has a retirement-related certification, such as a certified retirement planning counselor (CRPC) or a chartered retirement specialist (CRPS).

Certifications are a good indicator of a financial counselor’s education and abilities.You want to look for a CFP, or certified financial planner, which requires a certain level of education, coursework culminating in a multi-day exam, a background check and an agreement to abide by the board's ethics guidelines. All CFPs are required to act as a fiduciaries, which is another key thing to look out for when you're searching for a financial advisor. Fiduciary financial advisors are bound by a code of ethics to put your interests before their own.

Top Financial Advisors in Your Area

Want to get a sense of the top financial advisor firms in your area? These reviews, compiled through extensive research, rank the top firms in the following cities according to assets under management.

Learn More About Financial Advisors

Still have some questions? These articles should be able to answer them. Whenever you are ready, hop back up to our tool and find your financial advisor today.

Most Financially Healthy Places

SmartAsset analyzed data to find the most financially healthy places in the country. This interactive map allows you to see the most financially healthy counties in the country and in each state. Zoom between states and the national map to see the top spots in each region. Also, scroll over any county to learn about that region's financial health.

Worse
Better
Rank County Debt as % of Income Bankruptcies Poverty Rate Unemployment Rate

Methodology

There’s a lot more to financial health than how much income one earns in a given year. To find the most financially healthy places, SmartAsset took a holistic approach, considering debt as a percent of income, bankruptcies per 1,000 people, poverty rates and unemployment rates in our analysis. To calculate debt as a percent of income, we divided debt per capita by income per capita. To calculate bankruptcies per 1,000 people, we divided total bankruptcies by the population, and multiplied that number by 1,000.

To calculate the Financial Health Index, we weighted debt as a percent of income 10%, bankruptcies 35%, poverty rates 45%, and unemployment rates 10%. We ranked the counties on each of the categories and then indexed each category. We then added those indices together and indexed that.

In our study, a financially healthy county means people there have low average debt as a percent of income, along with a low chance of being affected by personal bankruptcies, poverty or unemployment.

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Census Bureau, 2015 Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE) Program, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, U.S. Bankruptcy Courts

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