Financial Planning

How to Find an Advice-Only Financial Advisor

By  Brian Thorp

To make Wealthtender free for readers, we earn money from advertisers, including financial professionals and firms that pay to be featured. This creates a conflict of interest when we favor their promotion over others. Learn more. Wealthtender is not a client of these financial services providers.
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What is an advice-only financial advisor? Learn if an advisor who only offers advice without managing your investments may be right for you, and get to know advice-only financial advisors featured on Wealthtender.

If you consider yourself a DIY (do it yourself) kind of person, you’re not alone. Millions of Americans successfully start and complete DIY projects every day.

But just because you decide to do a project yourself doesn’t mean you have to learn how to do the task on your own. In fact, most DIY projects start with education in the form of instructional videos, articles, books, or even live demonstrations.

The same holds when it comes to managing your personal finances and investing. If you consider yourself a DIY investor and are comfortable managing your own money, you may not want to hire a traditional financial advisor and turn over financial decision-making to someone else. Fortunately, a new breed of advice-only financial advisors has emerged as a popular choice among DIY investors interested in professional guidance at a very attractive cost.

What is an Advice-Only Financial Advisor?

An advice-only financial advisor offers financial planning and investment guidance to their clients, who are then responsible for implementing the recommendations on their own. Because they do not manage your investments for you, the cost of hiring an advice-only financial advisor is often considerably less than hiring a traditional financial advisor, especially for people with large investment portfolios.

Advice-only financial advisors are Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs) regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or by state regulators where their services are available. Many advice-only financial advisors will hold their Certified Financial Planner certification and will likely charge an hourly or flat fee for their services.

While you’ll be responsible for implementing recommendations on your own, some advice-only financial advisors offer technology and tools to make it easier for you to follow their guidance. Before hiring an advice-only advisor, be sure to ask if they offer resources to help streamline your DIY efforts.

Should I Hire an Advice-Only Financial Advisor?

If you consider yourself a DIY investor, you may still desire the benefit of professional guidance an advice-only financial advisor can provide to help you make smart decisions with your money. Or, if you’re looking for a second opinion regarding investment decisions or a financial plan you’ve prepared on your own, an advice-only financial advisor can review your work and offer feedback and recommendations to help ensure you’re on track to achieve your financial goals.

Find Advice-Only Financial Advisors on Wealthtender

📍 Click on a pin in the map view below for a preview of advice-only financial advisors who can help you reach your money goals with a personalized plan. Or choose the grid view to search our directory of financial advisors with additional filtering options.

Are You an Advice Only Financial Advisor?

👋 Hi there! We’re excited to help more people understand the benefits of working with advice-only financial advisors. And we want to help connect people to the best financial advisors for their individual needs. If you are an advice-only financial advisor, we encourage you to join our growing community of financial advisors featured on Wealthtender so we can add you to this guide soon. Click here to learn more and get started.

🙋‍♀️ Have Questions about Working with an Advice-Only Financial Advisor?

Expert Insights: Should I hire an advice-only financial advisor or a traditional advisor who will manage investments on my behalf?

Danielle Miura, CFP®

Spark Financials

“Advice-Only firms ensure transparency of compensation and minimize conflicts of interest. At Spark Financials, we provide financial advice to empower our clients to be self-reliant and visualize their financial future. We are the navigator and our clients are the driver. 

Our firm is set up to not hold or have access to our client’s assets, therefore our clients are protected from hidden fees. When a financial advisor manages assets, many clients are not able to see the direct impact of fees taken out of their accounts over time. 

We also do not refer clients to someone that can manage their assets, hence preventing any kickback or markup compensation. We minimize conflicts of interest and fees for our clients so they can reach their goals faster and safer. Instead of managing our client’s assets to make them rely on us, we educate our clients so they can eventually be independent. Our goal is to be as transparent as possible; this means no commission and no hidden fees.”

– Danielle Miura, CFP®, Financial Advisor (Website | Wealthtender Profile)

What Questions Should You Ask Before Hiring an Advice-Only Financial Advisor?

To help you find the best advice-only financial advisor for your individual needs, it’s best to ask the right questions to determine if you’re a good fit to work together.

We asked advice-only financial advisors in the Wealthtender community for their thoughts on good questions to ask.

Eric Simonson, CFP®, CRPC®, CLTC®

With an advice-only advisor, you, fortunately, do not need to ask them the usual questions you would a typical advisor, such as 1) What hidden fees do you charge?  2) Do you sell products and make commissions? 3) Are you a fiduciary?

You can rest assured that with an advice-only model, you are receiving some of the fairest, most transparent advice available in our industry.  So, the questions you should ask should be tailored more toward your specific situation.

For example, if you have student loans, ask them about their knowledge of student loans and typical strategies for how to tackle that debt.  Or, if you own rental properties, how familiar are they with them, and what recommendations do they usually provide there?  Also, make sure it is a good personality fit, so ask about hobbies, communication style, etc.

Eric Simonson, CFP®, CRPC®, CLTC®, Abundo Wealth (View Eric’s Wealthtender Profile)

Andrew Dressel, CFP®, CRPC®, APMA®

What range of subjects do you work on with your clients? Do those areas of advice align with the needs that you are trying to address? How are your fees determined?

– Andrew Dressel, CFP®, CRPC®, APMA®, Abundo Wealth (View Andrew’s Wealthtender Profile)

How does an Advice-Only Financial Advisor Compare to a Traditional Financial Advisor?

Beyond not managing their clients’ investments and earning a fee for this service, how else do advice-only financial advisors differ from traditional advisors? Should you expect the same services other than investment management? We asked advice-only financial advisors what they think.

Andrew Dressel, CFP®, CRPC®, APMA®

I would say that you should get the same, if not more, advice from an advice-only financial advisor than you would from a fee-only or commission-based financial advisor. This is because an advice-only financial advisor isn’t tied to a product outcome.

Traditional Financial advisors use financial advice to drive certain outcomes or products from which they receive a benefit or compensation. The scope of the relationship with an advice-only advisor is based on the depth and breadth of the advice that you get.

– Andrew Dressel, CFP®, CRPC®, APMA®, Abundo Wealth (View Andrew’s Wealthtender Profile)

Eric Simonson, CFP®, CRPC®, CLTC®

Every advisor is going to be a little unique in terms of their service offering, but on the whole, you can expect advice-only advisors to be much more comprehensive with their advice since their income is in no way tied to the advice they provide.  So, they are really free to ‘go anywhere’ with their guidance/advice.

Eric Simonson, CFP®, CRPC®, CLTC®, Abundo Wealth (View Eric’s Wealthtender Profile)

How Much Does a Financial Advisor Cost?

➡️ How Much Does a Financial Advisor Cost? Read the Article

Smart Tips to Find an Advice-Only Financial Advisor

Before hiring an advice-only financial advisor, here are a few quick tips to help you find the best advisor for you.

1. Decide Which Services You Need

Before hiring a financial advisor, determine what services you need from them. Whether it’s full-service investment management or a plan focused on a specific area of your finances, put together a list of what you’d like help with before contacting an advisor.

Though most people use a financial advisor simply to invest for retirement, this is only a small part of what many advisors offer. Here’s a quick rundown of potential services a financial planner may offer you:

  • Budgeting and money management
  • Debt management
  • Insurance planning
  • Retirement planning
  • Other investment planning
  • Inheritance planning
  • Estate planning
  • Tax planning

As you can see, financial advisors can help you with your entire financial picture, not just investing. As you start to plan for life’s bigger milestones, you should consider finding a financial advisor that specializes in those areas.

Finding the right advisor can help you minimize risk, maximize gains and take advantage of tax breaks while investing for your future. They can also help you protect your assets with the right kinds of insurance and help you pass on your financial legacy with a proper estate plan.

2. Consider Your Budget and Payment Preferences

Once you have a list of services you would like, review the fee structures financial advisors offer. Finding a balance between the services you need and the cost of those services will help narrow down the field of advisors you may want to work with.

If you are looking for a full-service advisor to manage all of your investments, consider searching among fee-based financial advisors. If you want to manage your money yourself, consider the flat fee and monthly subscription advisors for ongoing support.

3. Interview Multiple Financial Advisors

Once you have chosen the services and fee structure you prefer, it’s time to contact a few advisors and interview them. Here are questions to ask financial advisors:

  • What services do you provide?
  • What are all the ways you get paid? (fee transparency)
  • What is your investment strategy?
  • How do you measure investment performance?
  • How do we communicate about my plan?

Interview multiple advisors to get a feel for who you want to work with. A combination of fees, services, and customer service will help you determine the best fit for your financial advice.

4. Review Financial Advisor Credentials

Once you find an advisor (or two) you feel comfortable with, it’s always a good practice to check their credentials and the firm’s details. You can do this at the Investment Adviser Public Disclosure (IAPD) website

You can check both the individual and the firm to view their background and experience details, as well as any disciplinary action taken against them or their firm.

As licensed financial professionals, there is oversight into how financial advisors conduct business, so running a quick (free) check on them is recommended.

For additional information about advisor credentials, read our article to learn the most popular designations held by financial advisors, as well as specialized credentials which may be important to consider if you have unique financial planning needs.

About the Author
A headshot of Brian Thorp, the founder and CEO of Wealthtender

About the Author

Brian Thorp

Brian is CEO and founder of Wealthtender. He and his wife live in Texas, enjoying the diversity of Houston and the vibrancy of Austin.

With over 25 years in the financial services industry, Brian is applying his experience and passion at Wealthtender to help more people enjoy life with less money stress.

Connect with Brian on LinkedIn

To make Wealthtender free for readers, we earn money from advertisers, including financial professionals and firms that pay to be featured. This creates a conflict of interest when we favor their promotion over others. Learn more. Wealthtender is not a client of these financial services providers.
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