If you want to find a financial advisor who can provide guidance for your personal finance decisions, our matching tool simplifies the process. First, we'll ask you a series of questions about your retirement plans, life status, investment goals and advisor preferences.
Next, our matching algorithm will match you with up to three qualified advisors in your area so you can decide which one best fits your needs. Anyone with whom you are matched has already been carefully vetted through our proprietary due diligence process.
Once you’re matched, you can expect to be contacted by an advisor within a couple of business days.
Each of the questions asked in SmartAsset’s survey relates to one of four main themes. Those themes are life status, advisor preferences, investment goals and advisor specialization. These are all important topics to consider when choosing a financial advisor. Your responses are shared with your advisor matches in order for them to have a meaningful consultation with you.
Anyone can benefit from working with a financial advisor. At certain stages in life, however, we believe a professional’s advice can be extra valuable. These moments typically revolve around big life changes, including:
Another important consideration is how much you can afford to invest at your current life stage. Some of our advisors 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 and fees. Our matching tool recommends a robo-advisor to anyone who has less than $25,000 to invest.
There are two main 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||0.59% - 1.18% of the value of your portfolio||0.25% - 0.50% of the value of your portfolio|
|Account Minimums||Varies. While some have no set account minimum, some wealth managers require $150K to $3M+.||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|| || |
|Best For||Someone who: ||Someone who: |
Source: AdvisoryHQ (July 2021)
The figures above are examples only and used to illustrate what typical fees for financial advisors and their structure looks like. Advisors on the SmartAdvisor Match Platform that you may be matched with may charge higher fees than those shown above. Please carefully review fee structures with your investment advisor and review your advisor's form ADV and CRS.
When you complete our matching questionnaire, you’ll typically be matched with more than one financial advisor. We do that so that you have options to help ensure you’re truly finding the right fit. It can be a good idea to talk to multiple matches before settling on one. Each advisor 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 that those stocks will someday produce strong returns. Others may prefer growth investing, which focuses on buying into companies with promising growth potential. Still others may use contrarian investing, which advocates for going against the market majority. An advisor offering socially responsible investing will consider your values and the greater social good in addition to your returns when investing your assets.
Many advisors invest for the long term, which may be good if you’re saving up for a retirement that’s still far down the road. Others may emphasize short-term investments, which can be a fit for investors who have more immediate liquidity needs.
Financial advisors will often tailor your investing plan to suit your needs, taking into account your goals, objectives, time horizon and risk tolerance. Typically, the first step in building a relationship with your financial advisor is to sit down and determine your unique preferences, resulting in an investment plan that he or she can then implement.
Depending on your life status or if you have a particular financial topic you want addressed, it’s a good idea to take note of each advisor’s area of expertise. Many financial professionals specialize in a certain areas, such as:
For instance, if you’re focused on preparing for retirement, you may want to look for an advisor who specializes in retirement planning or who has a retirement-related certification. An advisor can be a certified retirement planning counselor (CRPC) or a chartered retirement specialist (CRPS).
Certifications can be an indication of a financial advisor's education and abilities. One of the most prestigious certifications is the CFP, or certified financial planner. This certification requires an advisor to have certain level of education, complete coursework culminating in a multi-day exam, submit to a background check and agree to abide by a board's ethics guidelines.
All CFPs are required to act as a fiduciaries, which is another key designation to look out for. Fiduciaries are bound by a code of ethics to put your interests before their own. All SEC-registered financial advisor firms are fiduciaries.
Registration with the SEC does not imply any particular level of skill or training. Fiduciaries are, however, required to disclose any potential conflicts of interest.
Research suggests people who work with a financial advisor feel more at ease about their finances and could end up with about 15% more money to spend in retirement.
If you still have some questions, these articles can help answer them. Whenever you are ready, come back to the tool above and find your financial advisor today.
Thousands of people used SmartAsset to find a financial advisor last month.
If you want to get a sense of the top firms in your area, we’ve reviewed hundreds across the country. These reviews, compiled through extensive research, rank the top firms in the following cities according to assets under management (AUM). They include detailed information on each firm’s investment philosophy, account minimum, certifications and services, all of which can help you decide whether a firm is right for you. The criteria for the matching tool differs from the methodology for the list below and you may not be matched with the advisor firms mentioned in the linked reviews.
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