Summary of Best Financial Advisors of April 2020
|Broker||Commissions||Promotion||Account Minimum||Learn More|
Up to $750
cash bonus with qualifying deposit
$1,200 and up
No-cost financial evaluation with a CFP®
Up to 1 year
of free management with a qualifying deposit
0.49% - 0.89%
2 Free Months
of financial advisory services for NerdWallet users
amount of assets managed for free
SoFi Automated Investing
career counseling plus loan discounts with qualifying deposit
0.25% - 0.70%
no promotion at this time
Vanguard Personal Advisor Services
no promotion currently offered
Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Premium™
no promotion available at this time
Last updated on March 26, 2020
To recap our selections...
NerdWallet's Best Financial Advisors of April 2020
Frequently asked questions
A financial advisor helps people manage their investments, plan for retirement and save money for their financial goals. Financial advisors also suggest strategies, investments or other assets that will help their clients’ money grow.
Financial advisors come in many varieties, from in-person advisors to online financial services and robo-advisors. They all serve the same purpose: to help you figure out what to do with your money. Here’s more about what financial advisors do.
If you find taking care of your finances and planning for the future to be overwhelming, a financial advisor can certainly help. If you feel confident investing your money, you may not need one.
While financial advisors aren’t for everyone, they can help you navigate the tricky and often confusing waters of how to organize your finances. If you recently had a big life change (you got married, had a child, lost a family member), it can be helpful to work with a financial advisor to help you understand your new financial landscape.
This really depends on what you’re willing to spend, and what products you’re looking for. There are a few robo-advisors — digital investment management services — that charge no management fees. Others charge around 0.25% of your account balance.
Then, there are online planning services and traditional in-person financial advisors. Online planning services typically charge a management fee that starts at around 0.30%, or a flat annual or monthly fee. Traditional financial advisors will often charge 1% of your assets or a flat fee — for example, you might pay $2,000 for a comprehensive plan.
We have a full overview of financial advisor fees here.
The difference between a financial advisor and a financial planner is like the adage about squares and rectangles: A financial planner is an advisor, but an advisor isn’t necessarily a planner.
Financial advisors are a larger category of individuals who help people manage their finances. Certified financial planners have gone through extensive training, taken exams and are legally obligated to act in their client’s best interest. It is important when you are looking for a financial advisor to thoroughly vet them, no matter what they call themselves.
What you look for in a financial advisor will have to do with your needs and priorities. Online advisors are (for the most part) less expensive, but some people prefer to meet with a local advisor; a face they can come to know and trust.
It might also depend on what you want your advisor to do. For example, if you’re concerned with creating a socially responsible portfolio, you might prioritize finding an advisor who knows that strategy. But if staying within your budget comes first, and if you’re just starting to build an investment account, it often makes sense to go with a low-fee robo-advisor.
Learn more about how to choose a financial advisor.
What sort of service you choose to take care of your money is a matter of your needs and comfort level.
In-person advisors have the advantage of being able to develop a relationship with you over time. They might know more about your family, your job and your life in general — thus giving them better insight into your financial needs. Unfortunately, they’re typically more expensive than a robo-advisor or online planning service.
Robo-advisors are a great choice if you only want investment management. If you need more comprehensive financial planning, many online planning services offer dedicated advisors who can give you customized help with a lower price tag than in-person advisors. Many employ CFPs, and you’ll meet with the advisor virtually via phone or video.
A financial advisor’s value depends on what they bring to your financial life. If you don’t have a lot of assets to manage, it might be better to try to manage them yourself or use a robo-advisor. As your assets grow and become more complicated — maybe you own a house, have an investment portfolio and are trying to pay off debt — it can be worthwhile to seek help from either a traditional or online advisor.
We recommend working with financial advisors who are fee-only fiduciaries. Fee-only advisors charge flat fees or a percentage of the assets they manage; they do not accept commissions for recommending specific investments. (Note: This is not the same fee-based advisors, who may earn commissions on products they sell and charge clients a fee or percentage of assets.) A fiduciary is legally obligated to act in the client's best interest.
The best financial advisor for you is the one that meets your needs, both in terms of services offered and the cost of advice. Is it important that you can speak with your advisor in person? If so, you may want to consider a local financial advisor who knows both your face and your community. Is cost the biggest driving factor? If you don't mind meeting with an advisor virtually — via phone or video conference — online financial advisors can save you money and provide the comprehensive financial planning and investment management you need.