A financial advisor can help you manage your spending, savings, and investments more effectively, but of course, they’ll charge you for it.
And it could be worth the cost if you want to create a comprehensive budget or savings strategy, or if you’re too overwhelmed or confused by your money to plan for retirement or invest in the stock market. You probably don’t need a financial advisor if you want to know where to save money or invest a few thousand dollars (a robo-advisor may do the job just as well).
Financial advisor is a catch-all term that usually includes financial planners and investment advisors. It’s imperative to look for financial advisors who follow the fiduciary rule, meaning they operate in their clients’ best interest, and are fee-only. This means client fees are their only compensation and they don’t earn commission when you invest in certain funds or buy financial products (that would be a fee-based financial advisor).
Fee-only financial advisors typically charge clients in one of three ways, according to SmartAsset:
- If a financial advisor is managing your investments, they’ll charge a percentage of assets under management, or an AUM fee, usually between 1% and 2% of your investment portfolio.
- If you’re visiting with the advisor once or twice to create a financial plan or get advice, you may pay an hourly fee, usually between $100 and $300.
- If you’re looking for access to an advisor on a rolling basis — i.e. you want help implementing and maintaining your financial plan — you may pay a fixed fee, usually between $1,000 and $3,000.
You can call a financial planning or investment advisory firm directly to ask about their rates. For investment advisory firms with more than $25 million in assets under management, you can find exact fees in Part II of Form ADV— a document filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission detailing the firm’s operations. Some firms will link to the form on their website, but it’s also available through a search tool on the SEC’s Investment Advisor Public Disclosure website.
If you’re mainly looking for help managing your investments, a robo-advisor is often a cheaper alternative for small balances. Robo-advisors like Wealthfront, Betterment, and Ellevest set up and automatically rebalance an investment portfolio for you based on your goals and risk tolerance, and the annual management fee is just 0.25% of your account balance.
Some robo-advisors provide access to human investment advisors or financial planners for an extra fee. Robo-advisors can be a valuable tool for the average person with a long-term outlook who truly wants to “set and forget” their investments.