Wealth Advisors: Where the Affluent Go for Advice

Wealth advisors are ideal for wealthy individuals, and often require a minimum investment in the millions.

Alana BensonAugust 3, 2020
Wealth Advisors: What Do They Do?

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If your personal fortune includes millions of dollars and a yacht or two, you may be the ideal candidate for working with a wealth advisor. Wealth advisors are the financial professionals whom affluent individuals often turn to when they need assistance managing their fortunes.

Wealth advisor definition

A wealth advisor is a type of financial advisor who typically works with very wealthy clients and offers holistic financial planning, including services such as estate planning, tax help and legal guidance, in addition to investment management. Wealth advisors tend to work with clients who have more expansive financial needs than simple portfolio management, and they often require a minimum investment in the millions of dollars.

The title “wealth advisor,” like many other types of financial advisors, is just a label; an advisor who calls themselves a wealth advisor requires no education or certification, though many wealth advisors do hold various licenses and certifications (more on this below).

Wealth advisor services

Wealth advisors help their clients with just about everything connected to their financial world and may even offer a few services that don’t seem financially related. Here are some services that wealth advisors can offer:

And though wealth advisors tend to offer more services than other advisors, they still do a lot of the same types of counseling that other types of financial advisors do, says Laila Pence, a certified financial planner and president of Pence Wealth Management in Newport Beach, California.

“The biggest problem investors have is that their emotions get in the way,” Pence says. “And the biggest job whether you’re a financial advisor or a wealth advisor is to navigate the clients through these very, very volatile times.”

What to look for in a wealth advisor

If you have a hefty amount of money and you’d like to hire a wealth advisor, there are some important things to consider. Charles Zhang, a CFP and founder and CEO of Zhang Financial in Portage, Michigan, says that an advisor should have at least one of the four following designations: certified financial planner (CFP), chartered financial analyst (CFA), certified public accountant (CPA) or chartered financial consultant (ChFC).

Zhang also emphasizes the benefits of working with a group of advisors who each specialize in a particular area, such as having one member who works in estate planning and another in taxes.

“It’s important that the team has some different expertise,” Zhang says.

Wealth advisor vs. financial advisor

A wealth advisor is one of many types of financial advisors, but the term “wealth advisor” refers to an advisor who specializes in financial planning for extremely wealthy clients. “Financial advisor” is a more general term for a professional who offers financial advice.

However, neither title requires any level of accreditation. If you're looking for advice on investing, use the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority's BrokerCheck tool to verify that your advisor is registered as an investment advisor with the Securities and Exchange Commission or their state, regardless of what title they use. If you’re looking for a personal financial advisor, it’s a good idea to make sure they have at least one of the four credentials Zhang highlights, and that their particular credential aligns with your needs.

For example, if you need only financial planning assistance and not tax help, you may prefer to work with a CFP over a CPA. You’ll need to check each certifying body’s particular site to verify an advisor’s specific certifications, such as the CFP Board’s site to verify a CFP’s certification.

Is a wealth advisor worth it?

It is unlikely that you’ll need a wealth advisor’s level of expertise unless you’re a high net worth individual. Private wealth advisor fees are likely higher than those you’d pay for pure investment management or other less comprehensive forms of financial guidance, and the costs and available services vary depending on your provider.

If you’re looking for some financial planning help that isn’t as all-encompassing as private wealth management services, there are many options to choose from. The services below all offer financial guidance in a digital form, which can help keep costs down relative to most traditional advisory services.

Facet Wealth
SoFi Automated Investing
Harness Wealth
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