Editorial Review

Facet Wealth Review 2019: Pros, Cons & How It Compares

Facet Wealth offers virtual, full-service financial planning from dedicated certified financial planners. The company charges a flat annual fee based on the complexity of a client's planning needs.

Dayana YochimNovember 22, 2019

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Our Take

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

The Bottom Line: For $480 to $5,000 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.

Facet Wealth

on Facet Wealth's website

on Facet Wealth's website

Fees

$480 and up

per year

Account Minimum

$0

Promotion

None

No promotion available at this time

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Comprehensive, full-service financial planning.

  • No additional fee for investment management.

  • Fee-only advice from a fiduciary.

  • Each client gets a designated certified financial planner.

  • No upfront setup fee.

  • Manages investments directly through four brokerage firms.

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

  • No in-person meeting option.

Compare to Other Advisors

Facet Wealth
Personal Capital
Fees

$480 and up

per year

Fees

0.49% - 0.89%

management fee

Account Minimum

$0

Account Minimum

$100,000

Promotion

None

No promotion available at this time

Promotion

2 Free Months

of financial advisory services for NerdWallet users

Full Review

Facet Wealth was built to serve people who want more than the automated portfolio management available from robo-advisors, but can’t afford (or don’t have enough in investable assets to qualify for) the goals-based, holistic planning services offered by traditional full-service wealth management firms.

In fact, the Baltimore-based online financial planning company got its start by acquiring customers from other registered investment advisory firms. Under the typical business model, which sets fees based on a percentage of assets under management, these firms often struggle to profitably serve clients with less than $1 million invested.

Facet eschews the AUM approach and instead charges customers a flat fee ranging from $480 to $5,000 a year, depending on the level of service a customer requires (such as the number and complexity of your household’s financial goals and how many accounts you want Facet to directly manage).

Like the traditional financial-planning relationship, customers work one on one with a dedicated certified financial planner, a financial advisor with extensive training. The CFP hashes out the client’s needs, establishes goals, develops a financial plan with action items and conducts regular plan reviews. In between formal check-ins, the advisor is available to answer questions and make plan modifications. The major difference between working with a Facet advisor and working with a traditional firm is that all meetings are done remotely (via video or phone), and the plan — Facet calls it the customer’s “blueprint” — is assembled, tracked and managed online.

Portfolio management is included in Facet’s financial-planning fee, which makes it an attractive option for those with larger portfolio balances because the price is based on the advice they need and not the assets they’ve amassed.

Facet Wealth is best for:

  • People juggling multiple financial goals.

  • Investors who want to avoid AUM fees.

  • Financial guidance for life transitions.

  • Couples and families, who pay a single per-household fee.

» Want to check out other providers? See our top picks for robo-advisors

Facet Wealth features you should know

Customers pay a flat fee based on their planning needs: Facet uses a “pay for what you use” pricing model based on the complexity of advice a client requires. Fees start at $480 a year for basic financial planning and go up to $5,000 for situations that require a lot of moving parts and complex wealth-management strategies.

The average Facet customer pays $1,600 a year and has $250,000 in Facet-managed investments.

The higher end of Facet’s fee scale is comparable to what some traditional brick-and-mortar financial planners charge (see our breakdown of financial planning fees). Those with complex financial situations may choose to go that route instead, especially if meeting with a financial planner in person is preferred.

Figuring out where you fall on Facet’s fee menu requires an initial meeting with a Facet advisor. It’s complimentary, and we suggest scheduling a one-on-one with any financial advisor before you hire them. Here are some general guidelines for what you might expect to pay:

  • $480 annual fee: A client who has recently graduated or is just getting started may fall into this tier. Facet will offer guidance on how to appropriately manage cash flow (allocating resources across debt, short-term savings and retirement savings), optimize workplace benefits and review options for renter’s insurance and other needs. Couples seeking to consolidate their finances with a spouse or buy their first home may also fall into this pricing tier, as could someone who has just a few investment accounts and no tricky financial life events looming.

  • $1,600 annual fee: A customer at this level might be a dual-income couple with children, managing multiple financial goals and multiple investment accounts. In addition to helping manage investments, Facet will assist with education planning, putting essential estate planning documents in place and reviewing income-tax withholding. Facet can also provide financial coaching to help negotiate a raise at work.

  • $5,000 annual fee: Facet says that about 5% of its clients pay $3,000 a year or more for planning services. This level of service might apply to someone who owns a business and is looking to set up retirement plans for themselves and their employees, or is looking for assistance in selling their company. Another example of a client in this price tier is someone who has substantial estate-planning needs, perhaps seeking help with multigenerational legacy planning or establishing a tax-efficient charitable plan.

It’s worth emphasizing that service requirements, not account balances, drive Facet’s pricing model. A client with $800,000 in a few investment accounts, but light financial planning needs, would pay the same fee as someone with a $50,000 portfolio and similarly simple finances. That’s because Facet doesn't charge an extra fee for portfolio management — that cost is baked into the price for service.

If all you need is portfolio management and you don’t want planning guidance, robo-advisors like Wealthfront and SoFi Automated Investing are less expensive options, especially at lower balances. But to compare the cost of Facet with similar services and traditional financial advisors, it helps to translate Facet’s flat fee into a percentage of assets under management.

Facet says the average customer pays $1,600 a year and has $250,000 in Facet-managed investments. That translates to a 0.64% management fee, which is competitive, especially when considering the depth and breadth of Facet’s financial-planning service and that each client is assigned a dedicated CFP.

Similar options for online financial planning and portfolio management include:

  • Personal Capital is a combination portfolio management and financial planning service with phone, email and video chat access to a team of CFPs and chartered financial analysts. It charges a 0.89% management fee on accounts of less than $1 million. The minimum balance requirement is $100,000.

  • Betterment Premium offers unlimited phone access to a team of CFPs and portfolio management for 0.40% annually and also has a $100,000 minimum.

  • Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Premium has a $25,000 account minimum and provides unlimited phone and video access to the company’s CFPs, a written financial plan and portfolio management for $30 a month, plus a one-time planning fee of $300. That comes to $660 the first year and $360 annually thereafter. But Schwab doesn’t offer a dedicated CFP to each client.

Keep in mind that with Personal Capital and Betterment Premium, you’ll pay more as your portfolio balance increases. That makes flat-fee pricing particularly attractive at higher balances: Facet adjusts what a client pays only when he or she experiences a big change that requires additional planning, and only when the annual contract is up for renewal. When a customer’s needs decrease — they sell their business, send the kids off to college, or consolidate investment accounts under fewer providers — Facet will lower its planning fee.

Direct investment management is available at multiple brokerages: One thing that sets Facet apart from the online-advisor competition is that it directly manages accounts at four custodians: Charles Schwab, Fidelity, TD Ameritrade and Pershing (owned by BNY Mellon). That’s convenient — and potentially a money saver — if you already have accounts at these firms. (Typically, if you want a robo-advisor to manage money from an existing account, you have to sell your investments before transferring money to their custodian.)

Facet also provides specific investment recommendations on accounts it cannot manage directly, such as 401(k)s, 403(b)s and other workplace retirement plans and stock option plans.

Facet builds customized portfolios: Like robo-advisors, the mix of investments in client portfolios are based on the customer’s timeline and risk tolerance. But while robo-advisors automate portfolio management and draw from pre-built portfolios, Facet advisors customize portfolios for each client.

Facet’s investment committee meets quarterly to review investment models. Portfolios are built from a select list of low-cost ETFs with a focus on minimizing fees (investment expense ratios that can eat away at your returns) and maximizing diversification (providing exposure to different types of asset classes to balance potential risks and rewards). And because the company directly manages accounts at multiple custodians, if your chosen one doesn’t offer the investments on Facet’s list or if it adds a commission or extra fee, Facet will identify appropriate alternatives.

Customers are assigned a dedicated Facet CFP: The gold standard of financial advice is the CFP designation. It requires in-depth training and testing, as well as continued education and ongoing certification. In addition to being full-time Facet employees, all of Facet’s CFPs are fiduciaries, which means they are required to make recommendations that place the client’s interests above the firm’s.

The first 90 days of service is the high-touch part of the relationship: You’ll meet with your planner several times via video conference call to discuss your needs and establish goals. The planner will coach you through the steps to start executing on your action items. Every six months, your Facet planner will schedule a video call to check in, but they are available for questions along the way.

Financial plans are comprehensive: Facet’s bespoke approach to financial planning allows it to serve as a resource for nearly any financial decision you face, from employee benefits and the tax impact of stock option plans to retirement investments and evaluating insurance needs.

Your financial plan lives on Facet’s web portal, which is an aggregation tool to track your assets, liabilities and action items, as well as a place to upload important documents like beneficiary paperwork. Facet tracks progress toward achieving goals. And whenever you update information on Facet’s portal, your advisor is notified and ensures the financial plan reflects any changes.

Is Facet right for you?

Facet Wealth offers close to what you would get from a traditional brick-and-mortar wealth management firm. Every client works with a dedicated Facet CFP — the main difference is that Facet delivers financial plans and advice virtually. Facet is well-suited to help clients navigate complex financial issues.

Facet’s “pay for what you use” fee scale ($480 to $5,000 a year) means you’ll pay less in years where your planning needs are minimal, and more when you face additional complexity (getting married, job change, retirement). The setup is particularly attractive if you have a large investment portfolio and fairly simple financial-planning needs. In those cases, you’ll pay less out of pocket for comprehensive financial planning and portfolio management at Facet than you would at a traditional financial planning firm that charges a percentage of assets under management.

On the other hand, it isn’t a good choice if you’re seeking only portfolio management, which you could get from a robo-advisor for much less, particularly on account balances less than $50,000.

on Facet Wealth's website