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best places to be a financial advisor

The average financial advisor makes $123,100 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That is about 2.5 times more than the average U.S. worker. But being a financial advisor is about more than just pay. It can also be a rewarding profession. Financial advisors can be some of the most trusted people in their clients’ lives, as they help them reach life goals like saving for a secure retirement.

Location plays an important part in financial advisors’ ability to do their job, too. For example, they need to be close enough to their clients to meet with them in person a couple times a year and, ideally, advisors work in a city with a pool of potential clients.

To rank the best places for financial advisors, SmartAsset compared metro areas across five metrics. We looked at median earnings for financial advisors, total number of financial advisor jobs, financial advisor jobs as a percent of all jobs, financial advisors’ average earnings relative to the average worker’s earnings and the percent of state residents with an income above $200,000. Check out our data and methodology below to see where we got our data and how we put it together.

Key Findings

  • The draw of the Big Apple – The New York-Jersey City-White Plains, NY-NJ metro area took the first spot and two metro areas directly adjacent to it also secured top 10 spots. The Newark metro area and the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk metro area are both located relatively close to New York City and claimed the third and fourth spots, respectively.
  • All about the coasts – If you want to be a financial advisor, looking for a coastal metro area may be your best bet. All of our 10 best places for financial advisors are located on coasts.

best places to be a financial advisor

1. New York-Jersey City-White Plains, NY-NJ

The home of Wall Street takes first. There are just under 25,500 financial advisors in this metro area, the most in the country. In total that means about 0.39% of all workers here are financial advisors.

Apart from the availability of jobs, New York-Jersey City-White Plains, NY-NJ is a great place to be a financial advisor because of the pay. The average financial advisor in New York earns over $137,660 per year.

2. San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, CA

San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, CA has one-fifth the number of financial advisors as the metro ranked first. However, you are actually more like to run into a financial advisor here than you are in New York-Jersey City-White Plains, NY-NJ. Almost 0.42% of all workers in this California metro area are financial advisors.

Around 6% of all taxpayers in California earn over $200,000, meaning there should be no shortage of potential clients for financial advisors in San Francisco.

3. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT

No metro area in the country has a higher concentration of financial advisors than this one. Around 0.61% of all workers in Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT are financial advisors.

But the availability of jobs is not the only metric in this metro area’s favor. Advising people on their personal finances pays well in Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT. The average financial advisor here earns over $114,280 per year.

4. Newark, NJ-PA

Another metro area located near New York City takes fourth. The average financial advisor here earns over $104,000 per year. Around 0.24% of all workers in Newark, NJ-PA are financial advisors, the 11th-most in our study.

Perhaps the biggest draw to Newark, NJ-PA for financial advisors is the abundance of residents with investable assets. Over 7.3% of taxpayers in the Garden State earn over $200,000 per year.

5. Oakland-Hayward-Berkeley, CA

Where would you imagine the highest paid financial advisors are? You might guess New York or maybe L.A. The answer is actually Oakland-Hayward-Berkeley, CA. The average financial advisor here makes just under $142,700. That is three times what the average worker in that metro area earns.

Relative to other cities however, there are not many financial advisors in Oakland-Hayward-Berkeley, CA. The city ranks only 47th for financial advisors as a percent of all workers and 29th in total number of financial advisor jobs.

6. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA

The Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA metro area takes sixth. This area has the sixth-most financial advisor jobs at 6,730. That means this metro area has four times as many financial advisor jobs as Oakland-Hayward-Berkeley.

Unfortunately for the 6,730 financial advisors in Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA, they are not as well paid as advisors in other parts of the country. Financial advisors in this metro area earn $99,700 per year, on average, around $25,000 less than the nationwide average for this profession.

7. West Palm Beach-Boca Raton-Delray Beach, FL

Financial advisors in West Palm Beach-Boca Raton-Delray Beach, FL have one of the best jobs in the metro area. They earn over $115,000 per year, on average, equivalent to about 3.3 times the annual pay for the average worker in the area.

The profession is also a fairly popular one. Around 0.24% of all workers in West Palm Beach-Boca Raton-Delray Beach, FL are financial advisors, 12th-most in our study.

8. Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine, CA

Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine, CA takes eighth. This metro area has the eighth-most financial advisor jobs in the country, according to BLS data. More than both Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT and Newark, NJ-PA ranked above it.

If you are a financial advisor in this metro area, there should be no shortage of potential clients. According to our data, over 1 million taxpayers in California took home over $200,000.

9. Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall, FL

This metro area ranks well due to the earning potential of financial advisors in the area. The average financial advisor in Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall, FL takes home over $111,600 per year, according to BLS data. That is 3.4 times more than the average worker in Miami earns.

10. Richmond, VA

Richmond rounds out our top 10. There are only about 1,000 financial advisors in Richmond, a figure which hurts its overall score. But financial advisors here are very well paid. The average financial advisor in Richmond takes home $110,000 per year. The average worker in Richmond would need to almost triple their income to hit that figure.

Plus, Richmond financial advisors should also have a good number of locals looking for financial advice. Just under 6% of all taxpayers in Virginia took home over $200,000.

best places to be a financial advisor

Data and Methodology

In order to rank the best places for financial advisors, we looked at data for all metro areas with more than 250 financial advisors. In total we looked at data for 99 metro areas. Specifically, we looked at data on the following five metrics:

  • Total number of financial advisor jobs. Data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and is from 2016.
  • Financial advisors as a percent of all workers. This is the percent of all jobs held by financial advisors. Data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and is from 2016.
  • Average earnings for financial advisors. This is the median earnings for financial advisors. Data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and is from 2016.
  • Financial advisors’ average earnings compared to the average worker’s earnings. This is financial advisors’ median earnings divided by the average earnings for all workers. Data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and is from 2016.
  • Percent of all taxpayers in a state who took home more than $200,000. This metric is meant to measure the area’s demand for financial advisors. For metro areas which span multiple states, we used data for the state that the largest portion of the metro area is located in. For example, in the case of Newark, NJ-PA we used data for New Jersey. Data comes from the IRS and is for 2015.

We first ranked each metro area in each of the five metrics. Then we found each metro area’s average ranking, giving equal weight to each metric. Using this average ranking we created our index. The city with the best average ranking received a 100. The city with the worst average ranking received a 0.

Tips for Finding the Right Financial Advisor

  • Certifications. Depending on why you’re seeking a financial advisor or where you are in your life, you may want to look for an advisor with specific certifications. Not only are the qualifications important, but so are specialties. Some financial advisors are experts in estate planning while other are divorce experts. Do the research so you find the one right for you.
  • Payment structure. Decide what payment structure you are comfortable with. Some advisors are fee-only, meaning they only charge a fee that’s a portion of your assets under management. Others are fee-based, meaning they charge a portion of assets under management and can also earn commissions for selling you products like insurance. A fee-only structure is often recommended by experts because it leads to less conflicts of interest between the financial advisor and the client. Regardless of which you choose, you should look for financial advisors who are fiduciaries, meaning they are legally bound to put your best interests first.
  • Alternatives. If you’re just starting out and don’t have a lot of money to invest, a robo-advisor may be right for you instead of a traditional advisor. A robo-advisor is an online-only advisor that will digitally manage your investment portfolio. Robo-advisors come with much lower fees than traditional advisors so they are a good option for people who want to keep costs low. They are also a good fit if you’d prefer to be more hands-off with your investments.

Questions about our study? Contact us at press@smartasset.com.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/Georgijevic

Derek Miller, CEPF® Derek Miller is a graduate of the University of Edinburgh where he studied economics. He is passionate about using data to help people make better financial decisions. Derek is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance® (CEPF®) and a member of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers. He is a data journalist whose expertise is in finding the stories within the numbers. Derek's writing has been featured on Yahoo, AOL, and Huffington Post. He believes the biggest financial mistake people make is waiting too late to save for retirement and missing out on the wonders of compounding interest. Derek lives in Brooklyn.
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