Zoe Financial Review 2021: Pros, Cons and How It Compares

Zoe Financial connects clients with vetted and credentialed advisors who operate under a variety of fee structures.
Alana BensonJun 24, 2021

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.


The investing information provided on this page is for educational purposes only. NerdWallet does not offer advisory or brokerage services, nor does it recommend or advise investors to buy or sell particular stocks or securities.

Our Take

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line: 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.

Zoe Financial

on Zoe Financial's website

on Zoe Financial's website

Fees

Varies by advisor

Account Minimum

$0

Promotion

None

no promotion available at this time

Pros & Cons

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.

Compare to Other Advisors

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

Varies by advisor

Fees

0.30%

management fee

Fees

$100 and up

per month (free initial consultation)

Account Minimum

$0

Account Minimum

$50,000

Account Minimum

$0

Promotion

None

no promotion available at this time

Promotion

None

no promotion available at this time

Promotion

15% off

one year of financial planning (requires annual payment upfront)

Get more smart money moves — straight to your inbox

Become a NerdWallet member, and we’ll send you tailored articles we think you’ll love.

Full Review

For those feeling overwhelmed by the thought of finding, interviewing and vetting a financial advisor themselves, Zoe Financial steps in as a middleman. Zoe Financial matches individuals with vetted financial advisory firms — firms Zoe claims are in the top 5% of their field.

A quick quiz asks a few questions like your age, household income and what you’d like your money to accomplish (such as paying down debt, buying a home or family planning) before narrowing down your advisor matches. You can then view the profiles of suggested advisors, which include their education, credentials and areas of expertise. You can also see if your matches work virtually or not. If the advisor seems like a match, you can then schedule a call. If you’re not ready to commit to an advisor, you can schedule a free consultation.

Zoe Financial is best for:

  • Those looking for holistic financial planning.

  • Individuals who need help with their taxes.

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

» Compare to other options: The best financial advisors

Zoe Financial at a glance

Account minimum

No account minimum to find an advisor. Some advisors on the Zoe network have account minimums (ranging from $250,000 to $500,000), but you won't be matched with an advisor if you don't qualify for their services.

Account management, planning or subscription fee

None from Zoe. Typical fees from advisors: Assets under management blended fees, based on amount of assets:

  • $100,000 to $500,000: 0.8% - 1.5% per year.

  • $500,000 to $4 million: 0.7% - 1.3% per year.

  • $4 million to $20 million: 0.5% - 0.8%.

For flat-fee ongoing services: $1,200 - $10,000 a year. One-time services: $500 - $5,000. Ranges in fees depend on the advisor and the complexity of service required.

Setup or onboarding fee

None.

Account fees (annual, transfer, closing)

None.

Advisor access and credentials

Advisors on the Zoe Financial platform are separated according to their qualifications, such as CFP, CFA and CPA. All advisors are fiduciaries and can be reached over video, phone, text and email. Depending on location, advisors can also meet in person. Specific hours vary by advisor.

Financial planning services

Zoe Financial can connect users with advisors who cover the full spectrum of financial planning, including investing, retirement, tax strategy, managing debt, estate planning and managing stock options.

Investment expense ratios

Vary by advisor, but range from 0.05% to 0.5%.

Brokerage options

All major custodians including Schwab/TD Ameritrade, Fidelity and Pershing. There is no limit to the number of brokerage accounts clients can have.

Portfolio construction

Highly tailored to meet the needs of each client.

Accounts supported

IRAs, Roth IRAs, taxable accounts, 529s, trusts or any account that can be held at major custodians. Select advisors can directly manage 401(k)s.

Tax strategy

Comprehensive tax planning. Some advisors will prepare taxes for clients.

Customer support options (includes website transparency)

Zoe customer support is available by phone Monday through Friday and holidays, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. EST, as well as 24/7 via chat and email.

Where Zoe Financial shines

Works with advisors who have no account minimum: Though some advisors in Zoe’s network do have minimums (ranging from $250,000 to $500,000), if you don’t qualify for those minimums, you simply won’t be matched with any of those advisors. Instead, you’ll likely be matched with an advisor who charges a flat fee per service rendered.

Ease of finding an advisor with your interest at heart: Finding the right advisor can take a lot of time and effort. Should they be a certified financial planner? What fee structure is better? How much should you be paying? These are the questions Zoe Financial looks to answer for you. Since all of their advisors are vetted and work as independent, commission-free fiduciaries (meaning they've committed to operating in your best interest) you don’t have to spend time verifying their qualifications if you don't want to. Zoe will also be sure to match you with an advisor who works in the area you need, like tax prep.

According to Zoe Financial’s website, its five-tier vetting process results in only the top 5% of advisors becoming available to clients. Advisors must have one of the following credentials: CFP, chartered financial analyst or certified public accountant. They must have at least five years of experience and no association with broker-dealers (to ensure that there is less conflict of interest). They are also graded on their problem-solving abilities, operational efficiency, client-advisor ratio and communication skills.

Range of services: Zoe Financial focuses on holistic financial planning, and advisors in the network can help clients with a large range of services, including retirement planning, investing, tax strategy, divorce planning, managing debt, buying a home, asset management, a sudden financial windfall, estate planning, family planning, college planning and stock options.

Tax help: Not all of Zoe’s network advisors can help you with your taxes, but if it’s something you know you’d like assistance with, Zoe can connect you with a licensed professional for comprehensive tax planning. Some of Zoe’s advisors will even fully prepare your taxes for you.

Educational information: Zoe Financial’s site is filled with helpful information, like a list of questions you should ask a potential advisor and a primer on the different types of fee structures. Zoe Financial’s blog has articles ranging from how to fire a financial advisor to a guide to retirement transition planning.

Where Zoe Financial falls short

Lack of upfront information on pricing: Zoe Financial acts as a high-end Yellow Pages for the best financial advisors, meaning they don't come right out and tell you exactly how much working with a Zoe Financial advisor is going to cost you. After you match with an advisor, you can see the fee structure (such as whether the advisor charges based on a percentage of your assets under management or a flat fee), but the advisor’s profile may not list exactly what that percentage or fee is.

This makes the pricing of Zoe Financial advisors tricky to compare with other providers as well. Traditional financial advisors typically charge 1% of assets under management. The fees charged by Zoe network advisors who use an assets-under-management structure range from 0.5% to 1.5%, depending on the amount you have managed. The fee you’ll pay will depend on the advisor you are paired with and the complexity of the services you need. To compare, Betterment Premium charges a 0.40% fee and provides unlimited phone access to a team of CFPs.

The minimum annual fee for ongoing flat-fee services with an advisor in the Zoe network is $1,200, which is comparable with the starting fee charged by online financial advisor Facet Wealth. Facet Wealth is an advisory firm with its own financial advisors, not a marketplace for advisors. (Learn more about financial advisor fees.)

Is Zoe Financial right for you?

If you’re looking for an advisor and don’t want to spend your weekends researching which one is right for you, Zoe Financial could help you with that. Similar to Harness Wealth, Zoe Financial doesn’t charge a fee to match you with a financial advisor.

If you’re just looking for investment management, a robo-advisor could also be a good option. Robo-advisors use algorithms to build and manage an investment portfolio for you. Some even offer tax strategy and limited access to financial advisors for no additional charge.

» See our picks for the best robo-advisors

on Zoe Financial's website

How do we review financial advisors? Here’s our methodology.

NerdWallet’s comprehensive review process evaluates and ranks the largest U.S. brokers 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 judgments on which ones will best meet your needs.

DATA COLLECTION AND REVIEW PROCESS

We collect data directly from providers, and conduct firsthand 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.