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Top Financial Advisors

What do you do when you have a toothache? You call the dentist, right? How about when you face a legal issue? You must surely consult a lawyer. What about your money? How do you plan your future financial security, your retirement, and your life goals? What about your legacy, your estate, and other money matters? Do you seek professional advice or the top financial advisors or do you opt for a DIY approach?

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7 Secrets To High Net Worth Investment Management, Estate, Tax and Financial Planning

The insights you’ll discover from our published book will help you integrate a variety of wealth management tools with financial planning, providing guidance for your future security alongside complex financial strategies, so your human and financial capital will both flourish.

Clients frequently share with us how the knowledge gained from this book helped provide them tremendous clarity, shattering industry-pitched ideologies, while offering insight and direction in making such important financial decisions.

It seems like the average American chooses the latter. According to a recent survey conducted by CNBC, about 75% of Americans manage their own money without any professional help from top financial advisors. Only 17% of the remaining 25% use the services of a financial advisor.

As per the National Finance Educators Council, wrong money decisions have cost Americans more than $1,200 on average every year. While that number may not look very big, the stakes get much higher over time and with more wealth involved.

The top financial advisors provide professional financial advice to clients in return for a fee. The topics for consultation are wide-ranging and cover important areas like tax planning, portfolio management, retirement planning, estate planning, insurance, risk management, and inheritance investment.

There is empirical evidence that people are happier when their financial life is sorted. A majority of those who work with top financial advisors feel financially more secure. Clearly, the top financial advisors play a positive role in the lives of high net-worth individuals. If you want to delve deeper into this topic, and if you happen to have anywhere from $5 million to $500 million in investible assets, then we recommend that you download this guide.

For now, let’s explore how to find the right financial advisor for you and check out a review of one of the top financial advisors for 2020. We will also answer the questions “Can I trust a financial advisor?” and “How do I find a financial advisor who is right for me?”

Top Picks for Financial Advisors

Top online financial advisor: Vanguard

For online advice with an advisor, Vanguard requires a minimum of $50,000 to enroll. The yearly fee is 0.30% of the account balance. You get a personalized financial plan, investment coaching, goal tracking, access to exclusive actively managed funds, and automated tax-loss harvesting.

For a 100% digital experience, Vanguard Digital Advisor, which is Vanguard’s robo-advisor, offers low-cost investing at not more than $2 per every $1,000 managed. There are no advisory fees for the first 90 days.

With $3,000 in a Vanguard brokerage account, Vanguard Digital Advisor will monitor your investments and, as needed, it will rebalance your portfolio. There are no penalties for unenrolling.

Top in-person services: Merrill Lynch

The Merrill Lynch investment advisory program offers fiduciary advice and guidance, which are personalized to align with the customer’s financial situation. It provides access to a wide range of investment solutions, with investment strategies managed by the program’s investment professionals.

Merrill’s customized approach has made the company one of the most recognized in the industry, employing over 13,000 advisors.

A Merrill financial advisor can help you prioritize your goals, not just pick investments. Your advisor will customize your investments so that they are tax efficient and aligned with your financial situation and goals, including focusing on certain companies that have a green or sustainable vision.

A Merrill advisor can help you navigate the choppy waters of the market and maintain a long-term perspective.

Top retirement planning: Ameriprise Financial

Ameriprise Financial was founded in 1894 and is headquartered in Minneapolis, MN. It was acquired by American Express in 1984 but spun off in 2005. It has $1.17 trillion in assets under management.

Ameriprise advisors provide personalized recommendations for achieving your financial goals. Ameriprise Financial offers the Confident Retirement® approach, which includes a review of your existing financial retirement situation and its potential opportunities or strategies.

Top wealth management: Fidelity Investments

Fidelity, based in Boston, MA, is a multinational financial corporation with over $4 trillion in assets under management.

With Fidelity wealth management, the client works with a dedicated advisor to build a personalized financial plan. The advisor provides ongoing monitoring and rebalancing of the asset portfolio and, at least once a year, will initiate an in-depth review of your financial situation.

Fidelity’s wealth products include Fidelity Wealth Management and Fidelity Private Wealth Management. Enrolling in Fidelity Wealth Management requires $250,000, with advisory fees ranging from 0.50% to 1.50%. Fidelity Private Wealth Management requires $2 million managed through Fidelity and $10 million or more in investable assets.

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Some of the top financial advisors are Fidelity Investments, Charles Schwab, the Vanguard Group, BlackRock, Morgan Stanley, and Bank of America. There are many more that are highly rated.

Barron’s rates the following as its top financial advisors: Gregory Vaughan, Lyon Polk, Mark T. Curtis, Brian Pfeifler, Karen McDonald, and Mark Douglass, all of whom are employed at Morgan Stanley.

The top financial advisors charge a fee based on the value of the client’s investable assets, usually between 0.5% and 2%. They may charge several thousand dollars for a financial plan.

Top financial advisors can earn several hundred thousand dollars from selling their services to wealthy clients. The average salary for an advisor is around $75,000.

A CFA, certified financial analyst, requires more training and more exams than a CFP, certified financial planner. A certified tax specialist will also be a CFP, so that may be considered a higher level.

Investor’s Business Daily lists USAA (auto insurance), Vanguard (ETF/fund company), Primerica (life insurance), and Fidelity Investments (ETF/fund company) as the most trusted financial companies.

You want to choose a financial advisor who is a fiduciary and has a relevant credential such as CFP or CPA, which means they are properly qualified and will put your best interest before their own.

You should ask the advisor about their background and experience, their typical clients, their fees, their investment approach, and how they manage conflicts of interest.

Financial advisors should avoid acting superior, not being transparent about their fees, not communicating openly and honestly, and putting their interests first.

A financial advisor makes money from commissions and the fees their clients pay. Most advisors charge fees based on the size of the client’s accounts, usually between 0.5% and 2%.

How to Choose a Financial Advisor 

Consider your budget

Cost is an important factor in choosing a financial advisor. As you evaluate various potential advisors, you need to consider how much you are willing to pay for the advice.

Any reputable investment company will be transparent about its fees, which will be published online. Most fees are calculated from the amount of assets invested in the client’s account with the broker.

As you have your first conversation with a potential advisor, ask about their fees and what services they will provide in exchange.

Decide what services you’re interested in

Consider your financial situation and where you think you would like help. If it’s with investments, you will want an advisor whose investment approach is aligned with your goals. The approach may be active or passive. It may focus on producing income in the short term or securing retirement income for the long term. In any case, your advisor should be able to explain clearly how they will provide you with recommendations that help you achieve your goals.

Choose between in-person and online services

Your budget and needs can help you choose the type of advisor that is best for you. A robo-advisor will be the lowest-price option, letting you manage your investments on your own. An online advisor can be available to personalize your financial plan, and an in-person advisor will be more available for consultations and answering questions.

What Does a Financial Advisor Do?   

Financial advisors offer a range of services that assist you in meeting your financial goals.

They will work with you to develop a financial plan that takes into account the details of your personal and financial circumstances. Your plan will include strategies for ensuring your retirement income will be sufficient to maintain your preferred lifestyle.

Your advisor will make recommendations for investing some of your savings to generate wealth and grow the wealth you currently have. They will manage your portfolio, taking into account your risk tolerance and income goals.

Your advisor can recommend insurance to protect you and your family, in addition to creating an estate plan.

How Much Does a Financial Advisor Cost?  

The cost of a financial advisor will vary depending on the investment company you choose to work with, the amount you plan to invest, and the services you need.

Advisors may charge fees based on the commissions they earn for buying and selling securities. They may charge a flat fee for a specific service, such as creating a financial plan, or they may charge by the hour for that service.

Generally, most advisors charge a fee equal to a percentage of the value of the assets they manage on your behalf, which can range from 0.50% to 2.0%. Often, the percentage is reduced with larger wealth accounts.

Review of one of the top financial advisors

The top financial advisors should not only make sound investment decisions but also align their clients’ financial situation and goals with a broader strategy when constructing a financial plan. A one-size-fits-all approach does not work in financial consulting. Each client’s situation is unique and, therefore, a different set of actions is needed. While there are thousands of top financial advisors in the US, finding the best and right Investment Management firm to manage your assets is not easy. Whether you are in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, or anywhere else, you need to find an investment management firm that will provide fiduciary financial services, not only those based on the size of the assets under management (AUM).

top financial advisors

Pillar Wealth Management

Among the top financial advisors, Pillar Wealth management is a unique financial firm that takes its quality of advice very seriously, which is why the firm will accept only 17 new clients this year. Pillar Wealth Management, LLC. is a fiduciary that works 100% on fees and personalizes wealth management to the needs of its high and ultra-high net worth clientele.

The firm has some important achievements to its name in terms of successfully meeting its clients’ short, medium, and long-term goals. The co-founders bring in over 60 years of combined experience which allows Pillar Wealth Management to offer a complete suite of investment management services for meeting the needs of any high-net-worth individual.

If you are wondering how we come to be on this list when this is our blog, we encourage you to download our guide: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Financial Advisor: For Investors With $5 Million to $500 Million in Liquid Assets today. You will get insights into what sets apart a top financial advisor from an average financial advisor.

How to find the right wealth manager for you

If you want to know how to find the right financial advisor for you, you need to consider some important factors.

Firstly, you need to find, preferably among the top financial advisors, one who will not just make investments for you, but look at your entire financial situation holistically. Once a broad picture is established, you need the advisor to make decisions that fit your purpose and goals. And finally, you want the advisor to constantly monitor your situation and periodically update you.

You will be surprised to know that many big-name firms with top financial advisors simply make investments and then forget about them.

The ultimate goal of the top financial advisors is to help their clients fulfill their life goals. In order to do so, it is imperative to be aware of how your portfolio is moving towards that goal. To develop this awareness and to quickly take any corrective actions, it is critical to get quarterly or monthly reports from your financial advisor. Not only do such regular updates keep you up-to-speed, but they also demonstrate that your financial advisor is also deeply involved.

Secondly, you want to work with a financial advisor who is ethical and acts in your best interest. You should inquire if a prospective financial advisor, whom you are evaluating, is a fiduciary. A fiduciary is an investment advisor who is registered with either the SEC or your state’s regulator. Most of the top financial advisors will be fiduciaries.

It is the duty of a fiduciary to always act in the best interest of the client and to inform the client whenever there is a conflict of interest. You can ask a financial advisor for his/her registration number and then cross-check the qualification on the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAFPA) website.

The top financial advisors will focus not only on portfolio returns but also the costs of managing the portfolio. The costs can, in fact, be quite significant. For example, if your financial advisor regularly churns your investments and switches from one stock to another, you will frequently pay short-term capital gains tax.

Short-term capital gain tax rates are higher than long-term capital gain tax rates. Secondly, certain mutual funds have a higher expense ratio than comparable alternatives that charge only a fraction of the fees.

So, controlling the costs of your investments is just as important as the returns that those investments generate. We recommend that you read this book on improving portfolio performance for anyone who has $5 million to $500 million in investible assets.

Top Financial Advisors: 3 Questions to Ask

1. What are their roles?

The top financial advisors will utilize best practices in financial planning strategies to secure the client’s future. Regardless of where you are situated in the stages of life, a financial advisor will provide services based on your needs. Their services are various, including financial planning, risk management, tax planning, real estate planning, legacy planning, and so forth.

Pillar WM management offers you those services to achieve your goals. We also work with several partners such as insurance advisers, tax accountants, and so on. We have a high commitment to giving the best services to our clients.

2. Can I trust a financial advisor?

It is natural to have the question of “Can I trust a financial advisor?” in your mind. After all, money matters are very personal. Therefore, if you are going to allow a professional financial advisor to manage the important decisions related to your hard-earned money, then one key ingredient is essential – trust. The top financial advisors should be trustworthy.

In a world where the use of technology and low-cost index funds are growing every year, financial advisors play a bigger role than simply managing investments. The top financial advisors need to understand the motivations, the financial goals, and the requirements of each client.

Once that understanding is established, financial advisors are then expected to demonstrate their ability to offer advice that allows the client to reach those goals. In other words, the advice has to fit the requirements of the client.

In order for you to feel confident about a financial advisor, you need to trust that the financial advisor will meet all of the expectations listed above. The best way to find out whether you can trust a financial advisor is to speak with the advisor one-on-one.

Simply reading online reviews or blogs won’t establish trust. Trust is a human emotion and it needs to be felt. In order to establish trust, you need to feel convinced about a financial advisor’s working philosophy, processes, and track record.

When you meet an advisor, you should try and delve deeper into the passion levels of the advisor. If the advisor is motivated to grow wealth and help you reach your goals, then that is a positive sign. You also want to see a degree of promptness and persistence in the way the advisor works.

Do they reply to your phone call or email on time? Do they follow up on your meeting with phone calls and demonstrate that they want to help you rather than simply add another client?

Secondly, you want to hear the advisor speak about investment planning, tax optimization, and how he/she can save you money while growing your portfolio. That will show the depth of knowledge and experience that an advisor has. It will also show the passion that the advisor has for financial planning.

Thirdly, as pointed out earlier in the article, you would expect the top financial advisors to be a fiduciary. This point is a clear-cut non-emotional way of establishing trust. Fiduciaries have their official registrations on the line when they act in your best interests. They are bound by their fiduciary status and will give you the confidence that they will not do anything to harm you.

Ultimately, you want to feel knowledgeable, empowered, and positive at the end of your meeting with a financial advisor. There is a high chance that you will trust a financial advisor who will give you those impressions. If you want to meet a trustworthy ultra-high net worth financial advisor, then schedule your free consultation. You’ve got nothing to lose.

3. How do I find a financial advisor who is right for me?

There are thousands of financial advisors in the US. So, the question then becomes “How do I find a financial advisor who is right for me?”

This is a valid question and one that is facing many high-net-worth individuals throughout the US. The following are some tips that can get you started:

The first step is to know yourself. Make a list of your goals, important events, how you spend your money (or will spend), and what you want to do with your wealth. For some, donating to a specific cause is a priority.

For some others, sending their kids or grandchildren to an elite university is a dream. Also, think about what kind of lifestyle you want to sustain in the future. All these points should be clear in your mind because they will deeply impact your choice of a financial advisor.

The second step is to start looking for qualified and experienced financial advisors. It is easy to find references from top financial advisors and their financial services on the internet. There are numerous websites that give you financial information and data about top wealth advisors’ ranking as well. For instance, Investopedia 100 rankings, Forbes, Dow Jones Company Inc., and other financial information industry leaders. Some high-net-worth investors will take a look at the financial advisor’s credibility first by considering their qualifications. Such as Certified Public Accountants (CPA), Certified Financial Planner (CFP), Personal Finance Specialists (PFS) for financial planners, and Certified Financial Analysts (CFA).

Every financial advisor may not be an expert in all aspects of financial planning. For example, if inheritance planning is important to you, then make sure that your selected advisor is experienced in that area or can bring an expert as part of the service offering.

The last step is to actually speak to your shortlisted advisors. When you speak, evaluate the interest, passion, and working style of the advisor. Explore if you can establish a good working relationship with that person. Also, make sure you ask the financial advisor about their fee structure.

You want to know whether you will pay hourly, per milestone, or on a commission. Some CFPs follow a hybrid model which is a mix of two structures. Clarify if there are any other extra fees/charges and whether the fees include taxes.

Big companies like Morgan Stanley or others cannot guarantee that you will get the best service. However, Pillar WM (all rights reserved) can give you the best wealth management services whether you live in Washington D.C, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, or anywhere else, bringing highly reputable credentials to the table.

Hutch Ashoo and Christopher Snyder are the expert founders of independent, fee-only, and fiduciary wealth management firm Pillar Wealth Management. If you would like to speak with them or simply ask any questions about how custom and trusted wealth management advice is offered to high-net-worth individuals with $5 million to $500 million in investible assets, then feel free to start a conversation.