Financial consultants assist clients in budgeting and achieving their financial objectives. They can offer a variety of financial planning services, including investment management, advice on setting up a budget, and money management.

In order to assist with sophisticated financial issues like estate planning, insurance requirements, or tax preparation, some financial advisors have additional credentials or areas of specialization.

In order to avoid paying for things you don't need or dealing with someone who isn't a good fit for your financial goals, it's critical to select the right financial advisor for your situation. The following five steps will assist you in selecting the best financial counselor for you.

Step 1. Know your financial requirements.

Since financial advisors offer a variety of services, it's a good idea to be aware of your specific needs before you start looking. While some financial advisors may focus on specific financial topics, like debt management or investing guidance, others may offer comprehensive assistance, counseling you on everything from savings objectives to retirement and estate preparation.

Asking yourself the following questions will help you determine why you need financial assistance:

  • Need assistance creating a budget?
  • Do you need assistance investing?
  • Do you want to put together a financial plan?
  • Do you need assistance achieving your savings objectives?
  • Do you need to set up a trust or organize your estate plan?
  • In need of tax assistance?
  • Do you have a passion for total financial management?

The type of financial advisor you require will be determined in part by your responses to these questions. Additionally, it could aid in your decision as to whether you even require one. For instance, a robo-advisor can invest for you for a small charge if you merely need help investing. On the other hand, you might wish to engage with a traditional or online financial advisor if you have a complex financial life and a number of financial issues you'd like to address.

Step 2. Recognize the many kinds of financial advisors.

Investment advisors, brokers, professional financial planners, financial trainers, and portfolio managers are just a few of the titles given to financial advisors. Even financial therapists exist. Don't assume that someone who uses an official-sounding title has any specific training or credentials. Some of the most popular names advisors use, like the phrase "financial advisor" itself, aren't related to any specific credentials.

Who then carries out what, and who can you rely on? There are a few strategies to cut through the clutter and find a partner who has your best interests in mind.

Financial advisors that work for a fee solely

Some financial advisors are compelled to act in their clients' best interests rather than their own since they have a fiduciary commitment to them. It is ensured that the advisor is paid directly by you and not through commissions for the sale of particular investment or insurance products when you work with a licensed, registered fiduciary, preferably one that is fee-only.

As part of their accreditation, financial advisors who hold the title of "certified financial planner," or CFP, owe a fiduciary duty to their customers.

Investment consultants

Any individual who provides investment advice must be registered as an investment advisor with one of the U.S. Depending on the assets under control, either the Securities and Exchange Commission or the government. Individuals or businesses that hire investment advisors can both be registered investment advisors, or RIAs.

Step 3. Discover the choices for a financial advisor.

There are financial advisors outside of your local bank or advising office. There are many ways to obtain financial counsel. The best choice for you will probably rely on your own tastes, the services you require, and your financial situation.


A digital service known as a "robo-advisor" provides streamlined, affordable financial management. You respond to online questionnaires, and then computer algorithms create an investment portfolio based on your objectives and risk tolerance.

Low cost: You can start investing with any amount of money because many firms have no or low account minimums and some robo-advisors have no or minimal management costs.

When you don't want or can't afford a full financial plan but need assistance investing for financial goals like retirement.

If you require more meticulous financial planning, look elsewhere. While some robo-advisors provide more advanced financial planning services, the majority are excellent at straightforward investment management.

Financial advisors and services available online

An online financial planning service that provides virtual access to real financial advisors is the step up from a robo-advisor.

A straightforward online solution might provide the same automatic investment management that a robo-advisor would, along with the option to speak with a group of financial advisors when you have inquiries. You will be paired with a dedicated human financial advisor who will manage your investments and collaborate with you to develop a comprehensive financial plan when using more comprehensive services like Facet Wealth and Empower, which are comparable to traditional financial planners. You can find an advisor with a top-tier credential, such a certified financial planner, through a number of online financial advisors.

Medium cost: Online financial planning services often cost more than robo-advisors but less than traditional financial advisors. Some services have a minimum investment need of nothing, while others have comparatively large commitment requirements of $25,000 or more.

When: You feel comfortable speaking with a financial advisor online but still want services like estate planning, retirement planning, or assistance with employee stock options. You can outsource the task of screening a financial advisor to online advisor marketplaces like Harness Wealth and Zoe Financial as well as a large number of online advisors themselves.

If you'd rather work with an advisor in person, go elsewhere.

Typical financial consultants

Traditional financial advisors are available to meet with you in person and can assist you with all aspects of financial planning.

High price: This is frequently the most expensive choice. A lot of traditional advisors charge around 1% of your managed assets. Some consultants have significant minimum balance requirements, such as $250,000 in assets.

When: You need specialist services, your position is complex, and you want to have a long-lasting connection with your financial advisor, this option is good.

If you want identical services for less money, feel comfortable getting assistance online, or don't want to conduct your own due diligence on potential advisors, go elsewhere.

Step 4. Think about the amount you can afford to pay a consultant.

Although there is a financial counselor for every budget, they have a reputation for being expensive. It's important to know how much a financial advisor charges before you commit to services. You're likely to experience one of three expense levels, generally speaking:

Robo-advisors frequently charge an annual fee that is based on the amount of money in your account. The cost of using a robo-advisor typically starts at 0.25% of the assets you have them manage, with many reputable companies charging 0.50% or less. 0.25% equates to $125 per year on a $50,000 account balance.

Online financial planning services and advisors usually demand a flat monthly fee, a portion of your assets, or both. Empower, for instance, levies annual fees ranging from 0.49% to 0.89% of assets under management. The annual fee for Facet starts at $2,000 and increases depending on how complicated your financial position is. Financial planning and portfolio management are covered by both fees.

Traditional financial advisors frequently charge a percentage of the assets managed, with a typical fee of 1%, though this can vary for small and big accounts could be greater or lower depending on the size of the account. Others might demand a retainer, a flat cost, or an hourly rate.

The amount you should spend on a financial counselor will depend on your financial situation, your assets, and your budget. An in-person advisor may be overkill if you have a small portfolio; a robo-advisor will save you money and provide the help you require. A robo-advisor might not be the solution if your financial situation is complex.

How to protect yourself from being duped by scams

Scammers can readily pose as experts or financial consultants to give their scam the appearance of authority.

To check for litigation or disciplinary actions against potential advisors and to confirm that they are registered with the SEC and FINRA, you can utilize some of the search engines indicated above.

But even "real" registered financial counselors have been known to commit investment fraud. Therefore, even if you encounter an advisor who seems to have a valid practice, you should be aware of which activities are fraudulent and what warning flags to look out for.

A reliable financial advisor who is in good standing will:

  • Completely declare all possible conflicts of interest
  • Set reasonable expectations for your earnings rather than making bombastic declarations of continuously high returns
  • Provide you with a precise evaluation of the risk involved with each investment
  • Always take care of yourself

If you observe any of the following, stay away:

  • Pressured sales techniques
  • Using terms like "breakthrough technologies" or "once in a lifetime opportunity"
  • Unregistered, unsupervised salespeople making cold calls and posing as brokers
  • Unknown senders' emails offering fantastic investment opportunities
  • refusal or delay in sending written details regarding a transaction
  • Recommendations for keeping the investment opportunity "confidential"
  • Pressure to decide immediately

Be on the lookout for these typical investing scams

You might run into dishonest business tactics when hunting for investing options. Two potential indicators of a scam are pressure to invest and unsolicited counsel. Additionally, you must to exercise extra caution when making investments based on guidance obtained from online forums, social media, and financial newsletters.

Always research a person's history before buying investment items from them. Use to learn more about particular people, including any disciplinary proceedings that have been taken against them.

Accuracy fraud

This con takes advantage of the trust that exists between close-knit communities and particular demographics (ethnic, religious, professional, senior, etc.). A trusted community member may be approached and persuaded to invest by a con artist, who then unintentionally inspires further members of the same group.

Typically, the investment turns out to be a Ponzi scheme. The money has already been lost by the time customers realize the deception. No matter who offers an investing opportunity, you should always be wary of it and carefully consider it.


In an effort to enhance their commission profits, your broker engages in an excessive quantity of selling and trading while putting their own financial interests ahead of yours. A symptom that your broker is scamming you is unlawful or frequent trading as well as any suspiciously high quantity of fees in your portfolio. Be especially skeptical of recommendations to purchase variable annuities because they sometimes come from brokers looking to boost their commissions and have extremely high fees.

Fraud with promissory notes

Promissory notes can be invested in legally. Investors provide capital to a business, which in turn guarantees a set return. However, promissory notes are frequently used to defraud individual investors, so you must investigate the legality of these instruments before investing.

It is necessary to register a promissory note, either with the SEC or the state securities authority. A promissory note can be checked online using the EDGAR database of the SEC or by calling the state securities authority.

Inflate and dump

By disseminating false information, this strategy artificially boosts a company's value ("pump") in an effort to boost demand and enhance the stock price. The con artists will sell their shares ("dump") at the inflated price after the equities have attained their transient, fictitious value, and profit. The other ignorant investors lose their money after that when the stock returns to its genuine worth.

Using the SEC's Tips, Complaints and Referrals Portal, you can report any suspected securities fraud. You can apply for whistleblower status if you meet the requirements and receive further protections and secrecy assurances.

Financial planner versus financial advisor

Although the terms financial advisor and financial planner are frequently used interchangeably, they are two different professions. The scope of practice, qualification requirements, and fee structures are all broken down in the table below.

Financial consultant

  • May include a wide range of services, including financial planning services, in addition to other services including tax counseling, investment portfolio management, financial planning, and insurance products.
  • Works with both people and companies
  • Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA), and Certified Financial Planner (CFP) are a few common certifications.
  • A range of fee structures, such as flat fees, commissions on financial products, and percentages of assets under management (AUM)

Financial advisor

  • Primarily focuses on financial planning, such as budget analysis, setting of short- and long-term financial goals, retirement savings programs, and estate planning.
  • Works with both people and companies
  • The most popular qualification, regulated by the CFB Board, is Certified Financial Planner (CFP).
  • Typically, rates are hourly or fixed fees.

FAQ about how to pick a financial advisor

A financial advisor is what?

A financial advisor is a specialist who offers advice and knowledge on issues relating to assets management, investments, and personal finances. Several different types of professionals fall under the wide definition of financial advisor. Although the phrase can also apply to brokers who trade market securities or investment advisers who will make investments on your behalf and are subject to legal restrictions, advisors can also operate as counselors.

What is the role of a financial advisor?

A financial advisor will give their clients advice on money management, budgeting, and financial planning with the ultimate goal of assisting them in increasing their long-term wealth.

What are the fees for financial advisors?

Depending on their level of experience and the services they provide, financial advisors are paid differently. They may, however, bill an hourly rate, a fixed rate, commissions, a retainer fee, or an annual percentage of the assets under management (usually 1 to 2%).

On the other hand, robo-advisors are significantly less expensive, with yearly management fees as low as 0.15% or a set monthly charge.

Do you require financial guidance?

This is dependent on your financial situation and objectives. If you don't have many assets, investments, or significant personal debt, it doesn't make much sense to pay for a long-term financial counselor. However, everyone might profit from meeting with a financial counselor to develop a plan for particular objectives, such as retirement or significant spending.

You must be clear about your financial objectives and requirements in order to hire the right expert for the job. This could be meeting with a counselor once to maximize your finances, or it could entail hiring a professional financial manager to look after your assets on a retainer.

How do financial consultants get paid?

Payment plans change based on the demands of the client and the financial advisor's services. A financial advisor may be employed by a company and receive a salary, or they may work for themselves and be paid hourly. Other advisors might get paid just once for a one-time service, such drawing out a client's financial plan.

Some financial advisors receive a flat fee in the form of a percentage of the assets under management (AUM), which is typically 1% to 2%. Financial advisors who sell goods are compensated on a commission basis. A retainer may be paid to clients who need ongoing financial services on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis.

It should be noted that advisors might profit from a mix of the aforementioned payment methods.


Katheryn is a corporate attorney and finance specialist, conducting research daily to get you closer to financial security and freedom (even if you're just getting started). Her +600 articles published in Collaborative Research Group have already helped thousands of readers on the internet. .

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