Harness Wealth Review 2021: Pros, Cons and How It Compares

Harness Wealth curates and connects financial, tax and estate planning firms with individuals based on their specific needs — at no cost to the client.

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Our Take

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line: 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, but flat-fee financial planning services and tax help are also available.

Harness Wealth

on Harness Wealth's website

on Harness Wealth's website

Fees

Up to 1%

per year

Account Minimum

$250,000

Promotion

$250 off

one year of financial or tax planning

Pros & Cons

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.)

Compare to Other Advisors

Harness Wealth
Vanguard Personal Advisor Services
Zoe Financial
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
Fees

Up to 1%

per year

Fees

0.30%

management fee

Fees

Varies by advisor

Account Minimum

$250,000

Account Minimum

$50,000

Account Minimum

$100,000

Promotion

$250 off

one year of financial or tax planning

Promotion

None

no promotion available at this time

Promotion

None

no promotion available at this time

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Full Review

Where Harness Wealth shines

Free consultations: Harness advisors offer complimentary consultations so you can get to know a potential firm before committing to them.

Makes finding an advisor easy: Harness Wealth’s combination of a proprietary search algorithm and dedicated concierge takes a lot of the uncertainty out of the process of finding a financial advisor.

Free service: There is no fee for using Harness Wealth to find an advisor.

Where Harness Wealth falls short

High fee: While 1% may be standard for a traditional financial advisor, there are online options that offer similar services for less.

High minimum: Harness has a $250,000 asset minimum for investment management. (No minimum for one-time financial planning or tax help.)


Harness Wealth is best for

  • High-net-worth individuals.

  • Individuals with complex financial situations.

  • Those unsure how to find or vet a financial advisor.

Harness Wealth at a glance

Account minimum

$250,000 for investment management. No minimum for 1:1, hour-long financial planning sessions or tax help.

Account management, planning or subscription fee

  • Investment management: Fees start at 1% or lower for the first $1 million of investable assets. Fees typically fall at higher asset levels.

  • Financial planning, tax planning and filing, estate planning and document creation: A flat fee of $1,000 to $5,000 per service.

  • Tax planning sessions: $250 for 1 hour.

Note: Fees vary from firm to firm and depend on client size and the complexity of services. Harness Wealth does not charge clients additional fees for using the service.

Account fees (annual, transfer, closing)

None.

Setup or onboarding fee

None.

Advisor access and credentials

To be eligible to work with Harness, firms’ advisors must have or be working toward any of the following industry-specific designations: CFP, CFA, CIMA, JD, CPA.

Clients typically work with a team of advisors (but speak with a single point of contact) with expertise across financial, tax, trust and estate. The frequency of meetings can be personalized to client preference (monthly, quarterly, annual) and based on the recommendation of the advisor as to what's needed.

Advisor firms set their own hours but are generally flexible and offer weekend access when necessary. All firms must offer phone, email, chat, videoconferencing and in-person meetings.

Financial planning services

The full range of financial planning services is available through both firms that offer fee-based, ongoing advisory relationships and those offering one-time, stand-alone financial plans.

Investment expense ratios

Not rated. Investments used and portfolio costs vary by firm.

Portfolio construction

Highly tailored to meet the needs of each client.

Brokerage options

Firms must custody with Charles Schwab, TD Ameritrade, Fidelity, Bank of New York Mellon, Raymond James, or Pershing. Clients do not have to transfer assets if they’re only receiving financial planning services.

Accounts supported

Firms can directly manage:

  • Retirement accounts: IRAs (traditional, rollover, Roth, SEP, SIMPLE, nondeductible, spousal) and 401(k)s.

  • Nonretirement accounts (individual and joint).

  • Digital assets (cryptocurrency, NFTs).

  • Trusts.

  • Cash accounts.

  • Specialty/education (529s, UTMAs, Coverdells).

  • Business accounts.

  • Nonprofit accounts/endowments.

Tax strategy

All financial advisory firms must offer tax-loss harvesting. Harness Wealth also has an in-house Harness Tax team, specialized relationships with external tax firms, and free tax tools to help clients build personalized tax strategies.

Customer support options (includes how easy it is to find key details on the website)

Phone, chat, video call and email support Monday to Friday 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Eastern.

More details about Harness Wealth's ratings

Account minimum: 2 out of 5 stars

Harness has a $250,000 minimum for ongoing investment management through one of the advisory firms in its network.

There is no minimum to use Harness’s free tax and financial planning tools or for one-on-one, hour-long financial planning or tax planning sessions.

If you’re looking for a traditional human advisor, that minimum is pretty typical. If you only want investment management and your portfolio is relatively straightforward, a robo-advisor may be a better option. Robo-advisors offer automated portfolio management, so they charge lower fees than human advisors and require lower minimum investments.

» See our picks for the best robo-advisors

Account management, planning or subscription fee: 2 out of 5 stars

The matching services offered by Harness Wealth are free.

For ongoing financial services like investment management, fees vary by advisor, but typically are 1% or less for the first $1 million of investable assets. Fees typically fall at higher asset balances.

» Looking for a lower fee? See our full roundup of the best financial advisors

Individuals who don’t meet the minimum investable assets threshold can still benefit from Harness Wealth’s services. For a one-time fee between $2,000 and $3,000, clients receive a detailed financial plan from a certified financial planner that will help them manage expensive purchases and plan for long-term goals. For $250, clients can meet with an accountant to plan for cryptocurrency or other complex tax issues.

Account fees: 5 out of 5 stars

Harness charges no miscellaneous fees, or even a subscription fee since the service is free to users. Advisory services pay Harness for the clients they refer, and Harness is not compensated for any meetings you have while you’re searching for an advisor.

Setup or onboarding fee: 5 out of 5 stars

Harness charges no initial setup or onboarding fees.

Advisor access and credentials: 5 out of 5 stars

The advisory firms on the Harness Wealth platform are tailored to your profile, but before they are ever presented to you, these firms pass an extensive evaluation process. To be considered for a Harness referral, financial advisory firms must be registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and act as fiduciaries, meaning the client’s best interest must always come first.

Firms must be fee-only, and any firm that charges fees above 1.5% of assets under management must at least include tax, estate planning and family office services with its offering. Moreover, firms must have up-to-date technology, defined cybersecurity policies and no significant data breaches in the last five years.

Once you match with one of Harness’s advisory firms, you and your advisor can connect on your schedule, over the phone, over video or in-person if you opt for a local advisor. Advisor firms set their own hours but are generally flexible and offer weekend access when necessary.

Financial planning services: 5 out of 5 stars

A Harness advisor can help you with anything a traditional firm could, including retirement planning, starting a business, getting married, having a child, getting divorced, managing an inheritance and creating a will.

And while this review focuses mainly on Harness Wealth’s financial advisory firms, the company also offers its service for tax and estate-planning firms. This means clients can build and manage an entire wealth management team through a single portal. The team will work together through Harness Wealth to maximize a client’s financial situation, no matter how complex.

That said, clients can also opt to use Harness to find only the expert advisor they need, whether that’s for financial, tax or estate planning (though each firm will come with its own fee structure).

Harness also offers free tax and financial planning tools that can help you see all your financial accounts as well as real estate, equity and crypto investments in one place.

Investment expense ratios: Not rated

Because Harness partners with a large number of firms across the country, and those firms vary in terms of their investment expense ratios, we have not rated Harness on these fees.

If you’re interested in using Harness to match with an advisor, be sure to ask any potential advisors about their average expense ratios before agreeing to work with them.

Portfolio construction: 5 out of 5 stars

As for the investment portfolios built by the firms, you’ll find just about anything you’re looking for, from straightforward long-term investment options to strategies specific to unique situations. Some of the speciality strategies used at some of Harness’s partner firms include:

  • Staggered exercise and sell schedules for stock options based on IPO or SPAC dates.

  • ESG (environment, social, and governance) portfolios.

  • Portfolios specific to those who work in the technology industry.

  • Cryptocurrency investment management and tax planning.

  • Bond program that invests in high-quality individual bonds.

  • Private placements and alternative investments (for qualified individuals).

  • Donor-advised funds.

  • Shariah-compliant investments.

Brokerage options: 4 out 5 stars

Harness firms must hold their assets at Charles Schwab, TD Ameritrade, Fidelity, Bank of New York Mellon, Raymond James or Pershing. Clients do not have to transfer assets if they’re only receiving financial planning services, but they do if they are receiving investment management.

Accounts supported: 5 out of 5 stars

Harness firms can directly manage pretty much any type of account, from IRAs and 401(k)s to digital assets such as cryptocurrency and NFTs to business accounts and nonprofit endowments. Many of the financial advisors we review cannot directly manage this many different types of accounts.

Tax strategy: 5 out of 5 stars

Harness Tax integrates your tax strategy into your financial plan and lets you communicate with your CPA and manage your tax documents online. Your tax specialist can also help you with topics like crypto, so you can explore your options while understanding their potential tax implications.

Customer support options: 3.5 out of 5 stars

When you get started with Harness, you’ll be assisted by an online concierge who can help you through the entire process and answer any questions you have. The concierge team schedules all your meetings while you are deciding which firm to move forward with.

You can contact Harness Wealth’s customer service team by phone, chat, video call and email support Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET.

Is Harness Wealth right for you?

Harness Wealth is an appealing option for individuals who have already established some level of wealth and have so far managed it on their own but are now looking for more tailored wealth management. The service would also be beneficial to anyone whose financial situation has grown so complex and sophisticated it requires unique expertise. Often, this may come in the form of an inheritance, marriage, divorce or other milestone event.

To vet on your own as many financial advisory firms as Harness does — and then on top of that, find one that fits your specific needs — would require a significant time investment. Harness Wealth does the work for you for no fee, and fees of the partner firms are on par with traditional financial advisors. Harness’s $250,000 minimum is pretty typical for  traditional investment management and financial planning.

How do we review online financial advisors?

NerdWallet's comprehensive review process evaluates and ranks U.S. firms that either provide financial planning services online or connect users with a financial advisor, using a multifaceted and iterative approach. This process does not cover wealth management services offered by brokerages or banks. It does include several robo-advisors that offer clients access to human advisors as a premium upgrade. Our aim is to provide an independent assessment of providers to help arm you with information to make sound, informed judgments 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.

INFORMATION UPDATES

Writers and editors conduct our broker 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.

on Harness Wealth's website