Even for the best informed among us, managing investments can be a challenge. While hiring a financial advisor may seem like territory reserved for the wealthy, in truth, investment advice is available at many price points, and can be helpful regardless of your net worth.

This is especially true in the post-pandemic economic landscape. While a roller-coaster housing market and exorbitant inflation rates finally seem to be settling down, the last few years took a toll on many Americans’ financial outlook. Below, we explore some of the most popular online brokers who offer financial advice from real, live human beings.

Featured partner

Featured partner

J.P. Morgan Personal Advisors

Fees

0.50%-0.60% based on portfolio size

Minimum investment

$25,000

Assets under management

$4.3 million

Financial planning

Education, home purchase, retirement, travel and more

INVESTMENT AND INSURANCE PRODUCTS ARE: NOT A DEPOSIT • NOT FDIC INSURED • NO BANK GUARANTEE • MAY LOSE VALUE

J.P. Morgan Wealth Management is a business of JPMorgan Chase & Co., which offers investment products and services through J.P. Morgan Securities LLC (“J.P. Morgan”), a registered broker dealer and investment adviser, member FINRA and SIPC. TIME Stamped is a publisher of J.P. Morgan, (“Publisher”). The Publisher will receive compensation from J.P. Morgan if you provide contact details to speak with a J.P. Morgan representative. Compensation paid to the Publisher will be up to $500 per completed contact form. Compensation provides an incentive for the Publisher to endorse J.P. Morgan and therefore information, opinions, or referrals are subject to bias. J.P. Morgan and the Publisher are not under common ownership or otherwise related entities, and each are responsible for their own obligations. Investing involves market risk, including possible loss of principal, and there is no guarantee that investment objectives will be achieved.

Best personal advisors compared

$100,00 to $250,000: investment services; $250,000 to $1 million: wealth management; over $1 million: private cllient

Flat fee starting at $2,000 per year

Choosing your own advisor

0.09% to 0.19% annual portfolio strategy fee, plus annual program fee of 1.35% or less

Starting at $25,000 depending on asset types

Our recommendations

Best for beginning investors: J.P. Morgan

J.P. Morgan Personal Advisors

Assets under management

$4.3 trillion

  • Connect with a J.P. Morgan team member to schedule a free financial planning session. Call 833-930-4515 or fill out our contact form and we’ll be in touch.
  • Work with a team of fiduciary advisors who will create a personalized financial plan, match you to expert built portfolios and provide ongoing advice via video or phone.
  • Partner with an advisor to build a personalized financial plan based on what’s important to you—whether that’s paying off debt, opening a business or saving for a big purchase.
  • Get matched to expert-built portfolios, and receive ongoing advice and annual check-ins to ensure your plan is on track.
  • Our team of advisors act as fiduciaries so you can be confident that any advisor you work with has your best interest at heart.
  • Manage all of your banking, investing and borrowing, and conveniently transfer money online and on the Chase Mobile® app.
  • Once we understand your financial picture, risk tolerance and time horizon, we’ll recommend a professionally designed investment portfolio that meets your needs and automatically rebalance as the market shifts.

INVESTMENT AND INSURANCE PRODUCTS ARE: NOT A DEPOSIT • NOT FDIC INSURED • NO BANK GUARANTEE • MAY LOSE VALUE

If you’re a beginning investor looking to have your hand held the whole way, J.P. Morgan can help—and with a 200-plus-year history and $4.3 trillion in assets under management (AUM), they have the reputation and longevity to back up their services. Any J.P. Morgan investor with at least $25,000 to invest can sign up to have a team member contact them and walk them through the advisory process and recommended services. Plus, a fee of 0.6% or less is competitive.

Pros:

  • Relatively low fee cap of 0.6%.
  • Low minimum required investment of $25,000.
  • Services are customized to each client with a live team member.

Cons:

  • Tiers and options are opaque before sign-up.
  • JP Morgan Chase has only one of five stars on the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) website based on customer reviews.

Best for higher net worth: Empower

Empower Financial Advisor

Assets under management

$1.3 trillion

With a minimum required investment of $100,000, financial advisement at Empower isn’t in reach for every investor. For those who qualify, the firm offers personalized advice with an eye toward tax efficiency. Along with tax-loss harvesting, Empower private clients get access to private equity investments usually only accessible to wealthy and institutional investors. Advisors can help clients prepare for financial goals like retirement and helping fund a higher education, as well as tackling estate planning and reviewing insurance coverage amounts on a regular basis.

Pros:

  • Lower-than-average fees are tiered based on assets under management, with the lowest net worth investors only paying 0.89%.
  • Holistic advice gives investors the opportunity to build a comprehensive, firm financial future.
  • Rebalancing opportunities reviewed on a daily basis.

Cons:

  • A $1 million account minimum puts Empower advisement out of reach for many investors.
  • Fees, while lower than average, are not the lowest on our list.

Best for rewards: Fidelity

Fidelity Investments Financial Advisor

Assets under management

$4.4 trillion

Along with holistic wealth management with a dedicated Fidelity advisor—or a wealth management team, in the case of investors with at least $2 million—eligible Fidelity clients also have access to an array of rewards and benefits. Fidelity also has specialized offers including trust services, fixed income and bond investing, and integration with third-party tax planning and preparation services.

Pros:

  • Fidelity investors can access 3% cash-back rewards, waived minimum investments on select assets, and identity-protection services.
  • Tax-loss harvesting and other tax-efficient strategies are implemented—though on a “limited basis” per the site’s fine print.

Cons:

  • The highest-tier fee of 1.5% is among the highest on our list.
  • Account minimum of $500,000 for personalized advice is on the higher side.

Best for low fees: Vanguard

Vanguard Financial Advisor

Assets under management

$7.6 trillion

While Vanguard offers a digital advisor service—essentially a robo-advisor—for those with at least $3,000 invested, its personal advisor tier starts at $50,000, which is still relatively low and accessible. Investors at this tier will have access to a blend of automated tools and professional advisory services for a fee of “approximately $30 per $10,000 invested,” which comes out to 0.3%—one of the lowest tiers on our list. (Dedicated personal advisory service from a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) is reserved for investors with at least $500,000.)

Pros:

  • Fees at or around 0.3% are among the lowest on our list.
  • Multiple tiers, including robo-advisor technology, allow investors to choose the product that best suits their financial situation and investment skill level.
  • Tax strategies implemented starting at the Personal Advisor ($50,000) tier.

Cons:

  • Dedicated human help from a CFP is reserved only for investors with at least $500,000.
  • Holistic wealth and estate planning starting at a high minimum of $5 million in AUM.

Best for customizable services: Charles Schwab

Charles Schwab Financial Advisor

Assets under management

$500,000

Not every investor needs every service—and most certainly don’t want to pay for services they don’t need. Fortunately, Charles Schwab offers a range of investment accounts and service levels that you can customize to your personal requirements. (The firm’s self-directed brokerage account comes with no account minimums and no fees.)

For those in need of dedicated wealth management, Charles Schwab’s team of experts is available once investors reach the $500,000 threshold. Fees max out at 0.80% and decrease for those with higher levels of assets under management.

Pros:

  • Management fees of 0.8% max are competitive in today’s market.
  • With more than $7 trillion AUM, Charles Schwab is a well-established and reputable name in the industry.

Cons:

  • A half-million dollar threshold for personal wealth management disqualifies many investors.
  • Trust, estate, and fixed-income consulting is done through third-party specialists
  • Many services, potentially including third-party services, are charged à la carte—though the company promises total price transparency and a comprehensive list of fees and commissions.

Best for flat fees: Facet

Facet Financial Advisor

Fees

Flat fee starting at $2,400 per year

Assets under management

$1 billion

Many financial advisors assess fees as a percentage of assets under management. The highest tiers are typically reserved for those with the least amount of money under advisement. Facet, on the other hand, assesses a flat fee starting at $2,000 per year—going up from there based on the complexity of your financial situation. While investors would have to have a significant investment to break even on this model—at least $300,000, compared to a fee of 0.8%—it could make financial planning easier for those wanting to know exactly what they’ll spend on advisory services. And, a $0 minimum makes Facet’s advice accessible to anyone who can afford it.

Pros:

  • A flat fee can make financial planning easier for some investors.
  • No account minimum makes Facet accessible to beginners who can afford its flat fee (starting at $2,000).

Cons:

  • For investors with $300,000 or less, the flat fee may be more expensive than a percentage would with a different advisor.
  • With $1 billion AUM, Facet is less established than some other firms.

Best for choosing your own advisor: Edward Jones

Edward Jones Financial Advisor

Fees

0.09% to 0.19% annual portfolio strategy fee, plus annual program fee of 1.35% or less

Account minimum

Starting at $25,000 depending on asset types

Assets under management

$1.6 trillion

These days, much of financial advising is done remotely either by phone or video call. But for those looking for in-person meetings, Edward Jones is a valuable exception to the rule. With a large network of offices across the country, Edward Jones helps you match with a financial advisor near you or you can choose your own if there’s someone specific you want to work with.

Pros:

  • Offices across the country allow you to have an in-the-flesh relationship with your financial advisor.
  • Advising available at a relatively low $25,000 threshold, depending on the types of assets you wish to invest in.

Cons:

  • A fee schedule including an annual program fee of up to 1.35% is costlier than many online brokers.
  • Despite an A rating with the BBB, customer service reviews are mixed.

Methodology

We reviewed seven of the most popular firms offering financial advisory services, assessing factors including available services, fees, implemented tax efficiency strategies, customer service reputation, total assets under management, and more. We then chose advisor services for specific categories of client need and benefit. We focused on well-known online brokers, not including smaller, local firms. Our list is not comprehensive or exhaustive, and available services and fees may change at any time.

How to select the best financial advisor for you

With so many options available, choosing a financial advisor can be a challenge. The following tactics can help you narrow the choices and focus in on the right fit for you.

Decide how much help you need

Not all advisory services are created equally and neither are all investors. Some people are looking solely for investment advice, while others want professional assistance with the whole kit and kaboodle—retirement, putting the kids through college, choosing insurance products, and more.

Deciding how much assistance you need will help you hone in on advisory service providers that offer your choices at a price that makes sense for your portfolio. And it can also help you avoid overpaying for services you’re not actually in the market for.

Consider fees

The whole point of wealth management is to help you retain and grow as much of your hard-earned money as possible and set yourself up for financial success now and in the future—but of course, financial advisors need to make their living, too.

Still, as an investor looking for advice, fees should be part of your calculation; obviously, the lower the better (so long as the firm is legitimate and reputable). Again, it may help to choose less-inclusive service tiers to save money if you don’t actually need holistic wealth management. And, of course, those with more money to invest will usually enjoy lower wealth management price points.

Look for fiduciaries

A financial advisor who is a fiduciary is legally bound to put your best interests first, regardless of how they are compensated, as opposed to, for example, recommending investments based on the commissions they earn.

Your financial advisor should be a fiduciary whose compensation doesn’t directly depend on what you invest in. Certified Financial Planners (CFPs), for example, are fiduciaries. Insurance agents, on the other hand, are generally not. Note that some professional financial advisors can work under a “suitability standard” rather than a fiduciary one, which means the decisions they make must be “suitable” for your needs, but not necessarily the absolute best.

When you choose an advisor within a brokerage, be sure your advisor is a fiduciary—because many brokerages offer advisors who are as well as advisors who are not. You can ask your advisor or investment brokerage this question directly, and you can also look up your broker with BrokerCheck to get a more detailed understanding of their history.

Alternatives to financial advisors

Not sure real, live financial advice is a fit or priced right for you? Fortunately, there are some worthy alternatives to consider.

Robo-advisors

Robo-advisors are, as their name suggests, largely run by robots—or, if not literal robots, complex algorithms (made and managed by real humans) that can make investment management a much more passive (and therefore cost-efficient) process. Robo-advisors can’t take the place of human beings dedicated to helping you plan your financial future or provide holistic financial planning services. But they can take some of the guesswork out of the process of allocating your assets.

Self-directed investing

If you’re willing to take matters into your own hands, many investment firms offer extremely low-cost ways to manage your investments in a self-directed brokerage account. They may also provide additional research and education materials to help you make the best possible decisions. While DIY investing can be overwhelming at first, a digital world means more information is available than ever, and self-directed investors may be on the hook for nothing more than trade and commissions fees. Some online brokers offer access with no account management fees or minimums.

More on financial advisors

How much do financial advisors make?

According to the data gathered by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in 2022 the mean hourly wage for financial advisors is $66.22 and the mean annual wage $137,740. Those in the 75% percentile earned $165,590 annually, while those in the 90% percentile earned $239,200 per year or more.

How much do financial advisors cost?

Financial advisors’ fees range in both amount and type. In many cases, financial advisory fees are assessed as a percentage of a client’s assets under management. For example, if you invested $300,000 at a firm whose annual advisory fee was 0.6%, you’d pay $1,800 (though of course specific figures shift as investments grow and change). Other firms might assess a flat fee, usually starting at a few thousand dollars per year, for advisory services.

What do financial advisors do?

Financial advisors traditionally are devoted to helping investors choose specific investments and helping them shape and reshape their portfolios as the market shifts and changes. These days, though, the term is often used interchangeably with “financial planner.” A financial planner might help with more holistic goals such as calculating exactly how much you need at retirement or reviewing insurance-coverage options.

How many financial advisors are there in the U.S.?

According to the same BLS data referenced above, more than 283,000 people in the United States are employed as personal financial advisors. Most work at investment firms.

Financial advisors vs. financial planners—what’s the difference?

Although the terms are often used interchangeably, financial advisors have a narrower scope than financial planners. Generally, a financial advisor’s job is to help investors manage their investments. A financial planner has a more comprehensive job, helping clients set themselves up for long-term financial stability. This often includes investing, but also encompasses things like estate planning, planning for retirement, and more. (Another word for financial planner is wealth manager.)

TIME’s Take: The best financial advisor is one who fits your needs

When it comes to choosing a financial advisor, there is no one-size-fits-all best advice. By searching for an advisor who offers services tailored to your financial needs, you can find the advice you need at a price that makes sense for your portfolio.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Which bank has the best financial advisors?

It’s impossible to name a specific bank that has the best financial advisors. There are many well-qualified advisors working for a wide variety of firms, not just banks. However, when searching for a financial advisor, it’s always a good idea to look for a fiduciary who is bound by law to put your best interests first, rather than working on a commission-based model that incentivizes upselling. Certified Financial Planners (CFPs) are fiduciaries, for example.

Is it worth paying for a financial advisor?

Given the complexity of planning a firm financial future—not to mention navigating the stock market—many investors do think it’s worth paying for professional financial advice. Many firms assess fees as a percentage of assets under management, ensuring your expenses will always be in proportion to the amount of money you’ve invested. These fees are often a fraction of a percent, which can be well worth it for the service of holistic financial planning. Keep in mind, however, that account minimums in the hundreds of thousands of dollars may apply.

How much money should you have to see a financial advisor?

While there’s no set amount of money at which financial advice becomes absolutely necessary—or unnecessary, for that matter—many financial advisors have minimum investment requirements to start. In some instances, the investing barrier may be as low as $25,000 (and planning services may be limited or aided by digital tools like robo-advisors). But many financial advisors’ minimums—or their most valuable services—start at $500,000 or even $1 million or more.

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