BEST OF

Best Financial Advisors of July 2021

Alana BensonApr 20, 2021
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When searching for the best financial advisors, you’ll find options that range from automated investment management services called robo-advisors to traditional, in-person financial advisors. In the middle are online financial advisors and financial planning services: These companies offer many of the services of a traditional financial advisor, but operate online to reduce fees.

Here's how to find an advisor who works for your situation:

1. Keep your budget in mind. Simple, digital-only services will be less expensive; holistic financial planning will be more. It's a good idea to know what you're comfortable spending before you dive in.

2. Decide what services you need. Maybe you just want help picking investments, or maybe you need advice on more advanced topics, like estate planning or insurance needs. These requirements will help you choose what type of financial advisor you need — typically, a robo-advisor is a good fit for investment management, but you'll need an online planning service or traditional human financial advisor for advanced planning. (View our picks for the best robo-advisors.)

3. Choose whether you want in-person or online advice. If you don’t mind meeting with your advisor virtually, you'll often save money with an online service. These services also typically have lower account minimum requirements than traditional investment advisors. No matter what option you choose, it's always important to check qualifications and make sure they follow a fiduciary standard, which means your needs come first.

» I want to work with a local advisor. Find a financial advisor near me

If you're still not sure how to find the right financial advisor for you, it often makes sense to start with a robo-advisor or online planning service — you can always hire a traditional financial advisor if your situation grows more complex. Below are our picks for the best online financial advisors.

Summary of Best Financial Advisors of July 2021

Vanguard Personal Advisor Services
Learn more

on Vanguard's website

Vanguard Personal Advisor Services

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Vanguard Personal Advisor Services

Fees

0.30%

management fee

Account Minimum

$50,000

Promotion

None

no promotion available at this time

Learn more

on Vanguard's website


Promotion

None

no promotion available at this time

Why we like it

Vanguard Personal Advisor Services is an excellent choice for investors who can meet the $50,000 account minimum and want to use the computer algorithms of a robo-advisor while maintaining access to a human touch.

Pros

  • Low management fee and lower account minimum for an online planning service.

  • Comprehensive management.

  • Access to financial advisors.

  • Solid investment selection.

Cons

  • No tax-loss harvesting.

  • Must move outside assets over to Vanguard.

  • Website less user-friendly than some competitors.

Read Full Review
Facet Wealth
Learn more

on Facet Wealth's website

Facet Wealth

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Facet Wealth

Fees

$100 and up

per month (free initial consultation)

Account Minimum

$0

Promotion

15% off

one year of financial planning (requires annual payment upfront)

Learn more

on Facet Wealth's website


Promotion

15% off

one year of financial planning (requires annual payment upfront)

Why we like it

For $1,200 to $6,000 a year, based on the complexity of advice required, Facet Wealth provides customized financial advice from a dedicated certified financial planner that’s similar to what clients get from full-service financial planning firms. The service is a considerable value, particularly for those with high portfolio balances and modest financial planning needs.

Pros

  • Free initial consultation.

  • Comprehensive, full-service financial planning.

  • Meetings are held virtually, via phone or video call.

  • No additional fee for investment management.

  • Fee-only advice from a designated fiduciary CFP.

  • No upfront setup fee.

Cons

  • Wide fee range makes it difficult for potential customers to estimate costs.

  • No in-person meeting option.

Read Full Review
Zoe Financial
Learn more

on Zoe Financial's website

Zoe Financial

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Zoe Financial

Fees

Varies by advisor

Account Minimum

$0

Promotion

None

no promotion available at this time

Learn more

on Zoe Financial's website


Promotion

None

no promotion available at this time

Why we like it

Zoe Financial isn't actually a financial advisory firm — the company connects clients to financial advisors. Zoe advisors are all independent fiduciaries who work on a commission-free model, meaning your advisor won’t try to sell you products to make a profit.

Pros

  • Makes it easy to find a financial advisor.

  • Network of financial advisors offer a wide range of planning services.

  • No fee for using Zoe Financial to find an advisor.

Cons

  • Difficult to know financial advisor fees upfront.

Read Full Review
Betterment Premium
Learn more

on Betterment's website

Betterment Premium

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Betterment Premium

Fees

0.40%

management fee

Account Minimum

$100,000

Promotion

Up to 1 year

of free management with a qualifying deposit

Learn more

on Betterment's website


Promotion

Up to 1 year

of free management with a qualifying deposit

Why we like it

Betterment Premium offers clients with at least $100,000 to invest unlimited access to financial advisors. The service charges a reasonable 0.40% of assets under management, and the advisors are all certified financial planners, a credential that requires meeting a high bar for education and experience.

Pros

  • Unlimited access to a team of certified financial planners.

  • Low management fee.

  • Innovative savings and retirement planning tools.

Cons

  • Clients don't receive a dedicated advisor.

  • Advisors available by phone and email only.

  • High account minimum.

Read Full Review
Harness Wealth
Learn more

on Harness Wealth's website

Harness Wealth

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Harness Wealth

Fees

1%

per year

Account Minimum

$250,000

Promotion

None

no promotion available at this time

Learn more

on Harness Wealth's website


Promotion

None

no promotion available at this time

Why we like it

Harness Wealth isn't itself a financial-advisory firm — the company serves to connect clients to carefully vetted firms. Advisors on the platform typically charge a 1% management fee and require a minimum of $250,000, but flat-fee financial planning services are also available with no minimum.

Pros

  • Reduces uncertainty when selecting a financial advisor.

  • Access to a range of services, including investment management and financial, tax and estate planning.

  • Easy to get started.

  • Advisors offer complimentary consultations.

  • No fee for using Harness Wealth to find an advisor.

Cons

  • The firms Harness works with may have higher fees.

  • Firms require $250,000 asset minimum for investment management. (No minimum for a one-time financial plan.)

Read Full Review
Personal Capital
Learn more

on Personal Capital's website

Personal Capital

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Personal Capital

Fees

0.49% - 0.89%

management fee

Account Minimum

$100,000

Promotion

None

no promotion available at this time

Learn more

on Personal Capital's website


Promotion

None

no promotion available at this time

Why we like it

Personal Capital is part robo-advisor, part human advisor: The hybrid service uses robo algorithms, but pairs investors with a dedicated financial advisor. The high-touch approach comes with a higher balance requirement and management fee.

Pros

  • Individual securities available.

  • Free, comprehensive investment management tools.

  • Dedicated financial advisors.

  • Advanced tax optimization strategy.

Cons

  • $100,000 account minimum.

  • High management fee.

Read Full Review

Want to compare more options? Here are our other top picks:

Disclosure: The author held no positions in the aforementioned securities at the time of publication.

Last updated on April 20, 2021

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Marcus by Goldman Sachs Online Savings Account

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Marcus by Goldman Sachs Online Savings Account

APY

0.50%

With $0 minimum balance

Bonus

N/A

at Marcus by Goldman Sachs, Member FDIC

Varo Savings Account

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Varo Savings Account

APY

0.20%

With $0.01 minimum balance

Bonus

N/A

at Varo, Deposits are FDIC Insured

American Express® High Yield Savings Account

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
American Express® High Yield Savings Account

APY

0.40%

With $0 minimum balance

Bonus

N/A

Methodology

NerdWallet’s comprehensive review process evaluates and ranks the largest U.S. brokers and robo-advisors by assets under management, along with emerging industry players, using a multifaceted and iterative approach. Our aim is to provide an independent assessment of providers to help arm you with information to make sound, informed judgements on which ones will best meet your needs.

DATA COLLECTION AND REVIEW PROCESS

We collect data directly from providers, and conduct first-hand testing and observation through provider demonstrations. Our process starts by sending detailed questionnaires to providers to complete. The questionnaires are structured to equally elicit both favorable and unfavorable responses from providers. They are not designed or prepared to produce any predetermined results. The questionnaire answers, combined with product demonstrations, interviews of personnel at the providers and our specialists’ hands-on research, fuel our proprietary assessment process that scores each provider’s performance across more than 20 factors. The final output produces star ratings from poor (one star) to excellent (five stars). Ratings are rounded to the nearest half-star.

RATING FACTORS

Evaluations vary by provider type, but in each case are based upon the weighted averages of factors that include but are not limited to: advisory and account fees, account minimums and types, investment selection, investment expense ratios, trading costs, access to human financial advisors, educational resources and tools, rebalancing and tax minimization options, and customer support including branch access, user-facing technology and mobile platforms.

Each factor can involve evaluating various sub-factors. For instance, when gauging the investment selections offered by robo-advisors, 80% of the score is based on the potential for diversification (how well-diversified a resulting portfolio of investments could be) combined with the availability of specialty portfolios and level of customization for investors. Expense ratios form an additional 10% of the score, and low or no management fee the remaining 10%.

FACTOR WEIGHTINGS

The weighting of each factor is based on our team’s assessment of which features are the most important to consumers and which ones impact the consumer experience in the most meaningful way. The factors considered, and how those factors are weighted, change depending upon the category of providers reviewed.

Provider categories include: Best Brokers for Stock Trading, Best Brokers for Beginners, Best Brokers for Day Trading, Best Brokers for Options Trading, Best Discount Brokers, Best Brokers for Free Trading, Best Investment Apps, Best Brokers for Penny Stocks, Best IRA Brokers, Best Robo-Advisors, Best Financial Advisors, Best Real Estate Platforms, Best Brokers for ETFs and Best Brokers for Mutual Funds.

INFORMATION UPDATES

Writers and editors conduct our broker and robo-advisor reviews on an annual basis but continually make updates throughout the year. We maintain frequent contact with providers and highlight any changes in offerings.

THE REVIEW TEAM

The review team comprises seasoned writers, researchers and editors who cover stocks, bonds, mutual funds, index funds, exchange-traded funds, alternative investments, socially responsible investing, financial advisors, retirement and investment strategy on a daily basis. In addition to NerdWallet, the work of our team members has been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Forbes, USA Today, Bloomberg News, Nasdaq, MSN, MarketWatch, Yahoo! Finance and other national and regional media outlets.

The combined expertise of our Investing team is infused into our review process to ensure thoughtful evaluations of provider products and services from the customer perspective. Our writers and editors combine to have more than 70 years of deep experience in finance, ranging from a former Wall Street Journal reporter to a former senior financial advisor at Merrill Lynch.

CONFLICTS OF INTEREST

While NerdWallet does have partnerships with many of the reviewed providers, we manage potential conflicts of interest by maintaining a wall between our content and business operations. This wall is designed to prevent our writers and the review process from being influenced or impacted by our business partnerships. This way, all reviews can provide an unbiased review that serves the interests of our users. For more information, see NerdWallet’s editorial guidelines.

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