How To Find A Financial Advisor If You're Not Rich (2023)

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You don’t have to be Scrooge McDuck with a giant bathtub full of gold to feel worthy of a financial advisor’s attention. While many advisors only work with the affluent, plenty cater to those with less wealth under their belts.

To find them, you need to know the type of advice you want, what the advice typically costs and how to find affordable financial advisors—either in your area or online.

1. Determine the Type of Advisor You Want

Financial advisors come in all shapes and specialties. That’s why choosing a financial advisor that aligns with your needs is important.

For instance, say you want expert financial planning but want to implement the plan yourself. Working with a holistic financial planner who would manage your investments may not be the right fit. You’ll be better off with a financial planner who offers plans for a fixed fee.

On the other hand, you may want full-service investment management and estate planning in addition to your financial plan. In that case, the holistic planner might be the ideal fit.

A full service financial planner will cost more up front, but the amount of help you get for your costs will be more substantial.

If you feel well educated and confident in what you need and are simply looking for a second opinion, you may be able to find high quality advice at an a la carte price. Whatever your needs, there’s an advisor out there who can deliver.


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2. Read-Up on Financial Advisor Fees

Financial advisors have two fee structures: fee-only and fee-based.

Fee-only financial advisors don’t earn commissions on trades and other transactions. They only make money from client fees, which can be flat-rate services, hourly charges or assets under management (AUM) fees, where you pay a percentage of your account balance annually.

Since they don’t earn commissions, they’re less likely to have a conflict of interest with the products they recommend. And since you can access many fee-only advisors as needed, it’s easier to strike a balance between the advice you need and your available budget.

Fee-based financial advisors make money from a wide range of fees, which can include AUM fees, commissions and performance-based fees. And with those fees come potential conflicts of interest, since advisors may be encouraged to recommend products where they receive a higher payout.

While there’s no one type of advisor fee structure that’s better than the other, always ask about fees when you meet with an advisor. You should clearly understand every financial advisor’s fees, whether for a one-off financial plan or ongoing account management.

3. Pay Attention to Minimum Account Size

If you’re starting or still building your wealth, it can be more difficult to find financial advisors with a minimum account size that aligns with your assets. And there’s a reasonable explanation for this: business and client experience.

Marc Jimenez, a certified financial planner (CFP) with CAM Investor Solutions, says account minimums can help advisors maintain an exceptional client experience.

For instance, if an advisor has a higher account minimum, that often translates to fewer clients but delivering each a higher level of service. Advisors with lower minimums may have to have more clients to earn a living, and it’s possible for service to suffer.

While low account minimums don’t imply a lower level of service, it’s difficult to begrudge advisors who want to earn more from fewer clients. Say you’re an advisor charging an average 1% AUM fee. Here’s how much you’d earn with different account minimums:

  • $1,000 account = $10 per year
  • $10,000 account = $100 per year
  • $100,000 account = $1,000 per year
  • $1,000,000 account = $10,000 per year

Working with fewer clients that bring in more revenue can reduce overhead and allow advisors to develop real relationships with their clients, which is why many have higher account minimums, but the good news is not all advisors do.

“Remember, not everyone wakes up one day with a million dollars in the bank,” says Jimenez. Even the wealthiest investors had to start somewhere—with planning, saving and investing. And while the search for an advisor with a low account minimum might take a bit longer, they’re out there and ready to help people just like you grow their financial confidence.

4. Places to Find a Financial Advisor if You’re Not Rich

With your financial goals and budget in mind, leverage these no-cost resources to find affordable financial advisors near you.

Family and Friend Referrals

Jeff Busch, a certified financial fiduciary with Lift Financial, says that a great place to start any search for an affordable financial advisor is with friends and family. Some advisors will waive account minimums for referrals from current clients.

Even if they don’t waive any fees, the advisor might refer you to another advisor on their team who’s either building their practice or has a lower account minimum. Still conduct your due diligence on anyone your family refers you to.

(Video) How To Find A Reliable Financial Advisor

Professional Organizations

Since financial advisor professional organizations are all about supporting their members, they generally have advisor search tools to help locate pros in your area.

And here’s a bonus: All of the advisors listed with the below organizations are fee-only advisors and may be able to offer hourly or fixed-fee services to keep costs manageable.

Fee-Only Network

The Fee-Only Network isn’t an advisor-matching service and doesn’t engage in pay-to-play. Instead, advisors listed on their site pay a flat fee and must also be members of specific professional organizations, including NAPFA, XY Planning Network, Garrett Planning Network and Alliance of Comprehensive Planners.

You can use their handy search bar to find a selection of local advisors and review everything from their credentials, professional certifications and areas of expertise to their contact information.

Garrett Planning Network

Advisors in the Garrett Planning Network are all fee-only financial planners and never have account minimums. Advisors also offer hourly and fixed-fee services so you can access advice on-demand—the same way you’d access your doctor or dentist.

Their “find an advisor” tool lets you search by a wide range of criteria like financial priorities and fee structure. You can then review individual advisor profiles and learn about their practice and certifications.

Let’s Make a Plan from the CFP Board

The CFP certification is essentially the gold standard of financial advisor credentials. To find one, you can visit the Let’s Make a Plan website and use their advisor search tool to find a CFP near you.

You can also search by advisor specialty if you have unique needs, like elder care, divorce planning or debt management.

National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA)

Advisors in the NAPFA network have all met fee-only standards, and must submit a comprehensive financial plan for peer review to qualify for acceptance.

If you’re looking for comprehensive advisors rather than those with a niche specialty, this could be the professional organization for you. All advisors must specialize in providing holistic advice across the whole of your financial life.

XY Planning Network

Advisors in this network of more than 1,600 advisors are all CFPs, with most focusing on clients in the Gen X/Gen Y age range. While this network is considerably smaller than the others listed above, you may like the organization’s generational focus and fee transparency.

Each advisor’s profile specifically states how they charge and their rates so you can easily “know before you go.”

(Video) How to choose a financial advisor or wealth manager.


If you’re a fan of index investing and low costs, a robo-advisor could be the next best thing to a financial advisor. Most robo-advisors offer pre-built portfolios for an annual AUM fee considerably less than you’d pay a human advisor.

Even with a robo advisor, you don’t necessarily have to give up a human touch for low costs. Robo advisors like SoFi Automated Investing give you free access to a CFP (wow), while others like Betterment and Vanguard Personal Advisor require account minimums for consults with a live financial pro.

Is it Possible to Find Free Financial Advising?

Here’s the straight shot: finding free financial advising is tough. Advisors go through rigorous training and have business overhead. They deserve to be paid for their deep expertise just the same as your family physician. However, options for free financial advice exist.

For instance, your bank or credit union may have professionals on staff who will happily consult with you on your financial questions. And if you’re a member of a financially-challenged community, the Financial Planning Association (FPA) offers pro bono financial advice for those in need. You may need to belong to a certain demographic or meet income requirements to qualify.

Be wary of financial advisors who offer their services for free without an obvious reason. They may be using you as a cash cow for referrals to expensive products like indexed universal life insurance that may not be the best choice for your situation.

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How To Find A Financial Advisor If You're Not Rich? ›

Even if you don't have a lot of money, financial advisors can be beneficial. If they're tax-savvy, they can suggest tax credits and other tax advantages you may qualify for as a low-income individual. These could include the saver's tax credit, the earned income tax credit, and more.

Should I get a financial advisor if I'm poor? ›

Even if you don't have a lot of money, financial advisors can be beneficial. If they're tax-savvy, they can suggest tax credits and other tax advantages you may qualify for as a low-income individual. These could include the saver's tax credit, the earned income tax credit, and more.

At what income level should you get a financial advisor? ›

Depending on the net worth advisor you choose, you generally should consider hiring an advisor when you have between $50,000 - $1,000,000, but most prefer to start working with clients when they have between $100,000 - $500,000 in liquid assets.

What financial advisors don t want you to know? ›

12 Things Your Financial Advisor Doesn't Want You to Know
  • They are probably learning as they go. ...
  • They get paid to sell you more products and services. ...
  • There's a reason they want to see all your assets. ...
  • They can't legally make any promises. ...
  • You may be able to negotiate your fees. ...
  • The hard sell usually only benefits them.

How do most people find their financial advisor? ›

Ask friends, family and peers for recommendations when trying to find a financial advisor near you. Alternatively, look for financial advisors online. Many professional financial planning associations provide free databases of financial advisors: NAPFA (The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors)

How can I get financial advice without forking out $3000? ›

Financial counselling

Funded by the taxpayer, financial counsellors can help consumers with topics such as debt reduction, paying bills and liaising with financial services providers. A good place to start if you need these kinds of emergency advice services is the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007.

Do normal people have financial advisors? ›

There are many benefits to working with a financial advisor, yet only 35% of Americans have one, according to the most recent Northwestern Mutual 2022 Planning & Progress Study. And if you're among the 65% of people who don't have an advisor, it may be time to get one.

What is the average return from a financial advisor? ›

Industry studies estimate that professional financial advice can add between 1.5% and 4% to portfolio returns over the long term, depending on the time period and how returns are calculated.

Do you have to be wealthy to have a financial advisor? ›

Once you've evaluated your financial situation, it's time to make up your mind about hiring a financial advisor. It's worth noting that you don't need to be wealthy to seek advice from a financial advisor.

What is the difference between a financial planner and a financial advisor? ›

A financial planner is a professional who helps individuals and organizations create a strategy to meet long-term financial goals. "Financial advisor" is a broader category that can also include brokers, money managers, insurance agents, or bankers. There is no single body in charge of regulating financial planners.

What are red flags in a financial advisor? ›

If the financial advisor does not have a clear explanation for how they make money, that's likely a red flag. This is another benefit of having a financial advisor who is a fiduciary because they have to disclose how they are compensated upfront. In other words, they make money only from their fees.

What is the disadvantage of financial advisor? ›

One perceived disadvantage of working with a financial advisor is the cost. In a study published in the Journal of Financial Economics, researchers found that the fees charged by financial advisors can significantly erode investment returns, especially for small investors.

Why don t Millennials use financial advisors? ›

"The bigger issue at hand is that financial advisors often have minimums that make it difficult to serve millennials at the tail-end of the age bracket – those born between 1990 (and) 1996 – because they typically have not accumulated enough money to meet the minimum requirement needed to work with fee-based advisors," ...

Is it smart to meet with a financial advisor? ›

You need an expert's guidance when it comes to financial planning. Arguably the most important reason why you should meet with a financial advisor is to seek guidance on how to effectively plan your financial journey so you can attain your financial goals and objectives.

How do I go about choosing a financial advisor? ›

Questions to ask a financial advisor
  1. their education and professional experience.
  2. their certification or designation.
  3. how long the firm they work for has been in business.
  4. how long they have been with the firm.
  5. if they or their firm are registered with a securities regulator.
  6. what products and services do they offer.
Jan 13, 2023

How do you know if a financial advisor is good? ›

Here are four traits you want to look for when gauging whether a Financial Advisor is suitable for you:
  1. They work with you. ...
  2. They take a holistic view of your finances. ...
  3. They develop and customize your investment strategy. ...
  4. They have the support of an investment team. ...
  5. There is a lack of transparency.

Do financial advisors have access to your bank account? ›

Do financial advisors have access to your bank account? Ideally, advisors can only move money between your bank account and a third-party custodian. Typically that allows them to schedule investments and withdrawals for you, but they cannot send payments to other payees (like themselves).

How can I invest without paying a financial advisor? ›

  1. Consider a Fee-Only Certified Financial Planner. ...
  2. Read Books About Investing and Personal Finance. ...
  3. Choose a Low-Cost Brokerage Firm. ...
  4. Take Advantage of Target Date Funds and Index Funds. ...
  5. Diversify Your Portfolio. ...
  6. Make Sure to Rebalance Your Portfolio. ...
  7. Get Automatic with your Investments.
Feb 17, 2020

Who gives the best financial advice? ›

  • Dave Ramsey.
  • Suze Orman.
  • Jim Cramer.
  • Robert Kiyosaki.
  • Ben Stein.
  • Charles Ponzi.
  • Bernard Madoff.
  • Financial Advisor FAQs.

What is the average age of wealth management clients? ›

Due to low penetration of younger generations the average age of wealth management clients is climbing. Clients were, on average, 64.2 years old in 2017, up from 63.6 in 2014.

What is the failure rate of financial advisors? ›

80-90% of financial advisors fail and close their firm within the first three years of business. This means only 10-20% of financial advisors are ultimately successful.

What type of people use financial advisors? ›

Financial advisors help anyone needing financial guidance. Some people need help as they prepare to move out of their parent's house and set up their first retirement account. Others need help planning for selling their house as they prepare for retirement.

How long should you stay with a financial advisor? ›

The average client lifespan for a financial advisor is between three and five years, with 45% of clients leaving in the first two years.

Should I use a financial advisor or do it myself? ›

Anyone can manage their own assets, but that doesn't mean you should. Most people will benefit from the knowledge and experience of a professional financial advisor, especially if they have a substantial amount of assets.

Is 1 percent too much to pay a financial advisor? ›

Many financial advisers charge based on how much money they manage on your behalf, and 1% of your total assets under management is a pretty standard fee. But psst: If you have over $1 million, a flat fee might make a lot more financial sense for you, pros say.

Do millionaires use financial advisors? ›

Most millionaires likely use some type of financial advisor to grow and protect their wealth. Whether that is an investment manager or wealth advisor can vary but not using the financial expertise of an advisor to help grow your wealth could be risky unless you have the right knowledge and skills to do it yourself.

Do billionaires use financial advisors? ›

It takes a team of advisors, each with specific expertise in finance and law and often hand-picked by the client, to manage a billionaire's portfolio. Here are some aspects of working with billionaires that financial advisors should know: Working with billionaires.

Do financial advisors make money from you? ›

Many financial advisors and firms will earn fees directly from their clients. A management fee for investment management services is frequently a percentage of the assets they're managing on your behalf.

Should I meet with a financial planner or advisor? ›

You should determine your needs before you decide what kind of financial professional to work with. That way, you can figure out if they're a good fit for you before you even meet them. Generally, financial advisors are typically better fits for those looking for help making financial decisions or making investments.

What are the three types of financial planners? ›

Financial advisors who serve individuals and families make up the majority of financial advisors, and they fall into three categories: investment advisors, Certified Financial Planner (CFP) professionals, and Registered Representatives (RRs), previously known as stock brokers.

Should I see a financial planner or accountant? ›

Accountants do auditing work, financial forecasting, and putting together financial statements, while financial planners help individuals with wealth management and retirement planning. Accountants are usually detail-oriented and good with numbers, while financial planners are better at sales and networking.

How do you know if you have a bad financial advisor? ›

Here are some signs you have a bad financial advisor:
  1. They are a part-time fiduciary.
  2. They get money from multiple sources.
  3. They charge excessive fees.
  4. They claim exclusivity.
  5. They don't have a customized plan.
  6. You always have to call them.
  7. They ignore you or your spouse.

What is unprofessional behavior for financial advisor? ›

Unethical financial advisors usually have warning signals including inconsistent reporting to clients, product pushing, and guaranteeing future results. Ethical financial advisors prioritize learning about your personal history, explaining unfamiliar financial matters, and planning for their succession in they retire.

What are some things to avoid when when looking for a financial planner? ›

These five red flags are a good indication of whether the financial planner sitting across from you is someone you should trust with your money.
  • She Isn't Certified. ...
  • He Offers to Manage Your Money for “Free” ...
  • She Says She Outperforms the Market. ...
  • She Doesn't Ask About Your Financial Goals.

Why don t people hire financial advisors? ›

For one, there is a lot more information online these days, compared to past generations, so people feel like they can do it themselves, said Sun, a member of the CNBC Digital Financial Advisor Council. Younger Americans are also saddled with more debt, like student loans, so they don't have a lot to invest, she said.

What is the average percentage charged by financial advisors? ›

AUM fees are calculated as a percentage of the assets they manage and can be charged on a yearly, quarterly or monthly basis. An AUM fee of 1% is quite common. This means a client will initially pay $10,000 annually to work with an advisor on an investment portfolio of $1 million.

What is the best independent financial advisor? ›

2022 Rank2021 RankAdvisor
17Spuds Powell
21Charles C. Zhang
34Richard Saperstein
411Valerie Newell
7 more rows

Which generation is the most financially stable? ›

Gen Z says they require an average salary of $171,633 to feel financially healthy — the highest income compared to older generations — according to a 2022 survey from personal finance company Personal Capital and retirement plan provider Empower, conducted by The Harris Poll.

Where does Gen Z get their financial advice? ›

79% of Americans representing the millennial or Gen Z age groups have gotten financial advice from social media. Three in four believe financial content on social media has made it less taboo to talk about money. 62% feel empowered by their access to financial information on social media.

How does Gen Z feel about finances? ›

Gen Z, also known as Zoomers, have already experienced financial turbulence in their young adult lives. From a coronavirus pandemic that put the world on pause to the resulting rise of inflation, Gen Zers have felt the effects, with 42.6% having spent more than they earned and 39.8% having not invested any money.

How much money should you have before getting a financial advisor? ›

Generally, having between $50,000 and $500,000 of liquid assets to invest can be a good point to start looking at hiring a financial advisor. You do not need a much higher net worth in order to invest with a financial advisor.

At what point should you talk to a financial advisor? ›

You should meet with your advisor at least once a year to reassess basics like budget, taxes and investment performance. This is the time to discuss whether you feel you are on the right track, and if there is something you could be doing better to increase your net worth in the coming 12 months.

When should you start talking to a financial advisor? ›

Klein says you should begin planning in your 50s, at the latest. "Some of the best strategies for retirement income need to be set up 10 to15 years in advance," he says. However, that doesn't mean you can't begin consulting with a financial planner even earlier.

How do you negotiate with a financial advisor? ›

How to Lower Financial Advisor Fees
  1. 6 Steps to Lower the Price of Your Advisory Fees. ...
  2. Determine How Your Advisor Is Paid. ...
  3. Determine How Much Your Advisor Is Paid. ...
  4. Determine a Fair Price For Services. ...
  5. Determine How Much You Are Willing to Do Yourself. ...
  6. Carefully Research Your Alternative(s) ...
  7. Negotiate From a Position of Power.

Which is better Charles Schwab or Raymond James? ›

Stocks receive better grades (higher scores) for having higher scores for the quality subcomponents and worse grades (lower scores) for lower scores for the subcomponents. Charles Schwab Corp has a Quality Score of 77, which is Strong. Raymond James Financial Inc has a Quality Score of 37, which is Weak.

What is the difference between a financial advisor and an investment advisor? ›

Whereas financial planners focus on retirement planning, estate planning and more, investment advisors are focused on helping you invest. Whether you're investing in mutual funds or looking to transform your wealth with a financial plan, you may want to consider working with a financial advisor.

What is the disadvantage of having financial advisor? ›

Disadvantages of a Certified Financial Adviser

Perhaps the most significant concern of hiring a financial adviser is that they don't always have your best interests in mind. Despite many advisers making decisions that will benefit the client, it is not unusual for conflicts of interest to arise.

Do financial advisors help you budget your money? ›

Advisors use their knowledge and expertise to construct personalized financial plans that aim to achieve the financial goals of clients. These plans include not only investments but also savings, budget, insurance, and tax strategies.

Should everyone see a financial advisor? ›

Do you need a financial planner? Generally speaking, the more complex your financial situation, the more likely you are to benefit from a financial planner. If your finances are simple, you may be able to take a DIY approach.

Do financial advisors do better than the market? ›

Decades of data show that individual advisors, even the highest paid, do not consistently beat the market indexes. Plus their advice is expensive, which reduces your investable assets each year, resulting in lower long-term returns.

How do I choose a financial advisor? ›

Questions to ask a financial advisor
  1. their education and professional experience.
  2. their certification or designation.
  3. how long the firm they work for has been in business.
  4. how long they have been with the firm.
  5. if they or their firm are registered with a securities regulator.
  6. what products and services do they offer.
Jan 13, 2023

Who is the best person to talk to about finances? ›

Financial Planner. A financial planner is to your money what your primary care doctor is to your health. Your financial planner is the big-picture person, the one you talk to first about any financial issues. They can help you make a plan to pay off debt, save for college, or invest for retirement.

How many times should you meet with your financial advisor? ›

Experts recommend that you meet at least once a year with a financial advisor to discuss your investment plan and review your risk tolerance and cash flow objectives.

How do you know if a financial advisor is worth it? ›

Here are four traits you want to look for when gauging whether a Financial Advisor is suitable for you:
  1. They work with you. ...
  2. They take a holistic view of your finances. ...
  3. They develop and customize your investment strategy. ...
  4. They have the support of an investment team. ...
  5. There is a lack of transparency.


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