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The best online financial advisors
|Advisor||Standout features||Fees / Min. balance|
|Low cost, only robo-advisor offering 529 plans|
$500 min. balance
|Robo-investing plus affordable access to personalized human advice|
0.25% - 0.40% AUM
$0 - $100,000 min. balance
|Access to various financial products, plus expert advice|
|Smart 401(k) management, plus expert advice|
$45 - $250 per year
$0 min. balance
|Human-first financial advice and low-cost investment management|
0.05% - 0.30% AUM
$50,000 min. balance
Online financial advisors are more accessible, and often cheaper, than advisors who work face-to-face. And increasingly, they're offering more than just investment management.
In our search for the best online financial advisors, we looked for companies with easy-to-use investing platforms and experts that help with your overall financial plan or answer your most pressing questions at an affordable price point — because investing doesn't happen in a vacuum.
Pros and cons
|Editor's rating||4.8 out of 5|
|Promotion||Business Insider readers who sign up for a Wealthfront investment account will receive their first $5,000 managed for free in that account in perpetuity.|
Why it stands out: You'll only need $500 to start investing with Wealthfront. Once you meet the minimum requirement, you'll get access to an array of investing accounts, fee-free hybrid savings and, retirement accounts, portfolio lines of credit, 529 college savings plans, and more.
At Wealthfront, you can also take advantage of investment strategies and financial planning tools provided by a team of PhDs, and investment accounts include automatic portfolio rebalancing and tax-loss harvesting (tax-loss harvesting is a strategy that saves you money in taxes by replacing failing investments).
What to look out for: Before investing with Wealthfront, remember that you'll need $500 to begin, and there won't be any fee discounts for higher balances. In other words, the 0.25% annual fee applies to all account balances. Another thing to consider is that your investment options are limited to ETFs.
|Editor's rating||4.8 out of 5|
|Fees||0.25% - 0.40% AU|
|Account Minimum||$0 - $100,000 min. balance|
Why it stands out: Known as one of the pioneers of the Betterment offers several competitive accounts and wealth-building services. These include automatic rebalancing and tax-loss harvesting, fee-free checking and cash reserve accounts, and ongoing financial advice for clients with at least $100,000.industry,
Personal Capital offers similar services, but it requires each client to have a $100,000 minimum balance to set up an investing account. Betterment offers two primary accounts: Digital and premium. Digital accounts have a $0 minimum requirement, while premium plans require $100,000.
Betterment also offers socially responsible investing portfolios, retirement accounts and tools, and Betterment Advisor Network, a platform that connects clients to independent certified financial planner (CFP) professionals.
What to look out for: Though the premium plan gives you unlimited access to a human advisor, you'll pay a larger annual fee if you've got an account balance of $100,000. In addition, it's worth pointing out that Betterment mainly invests in ETFs.
|Editor's rating||4.8 out of 5|
|Account Minimum||$0 ($1 to start investing)|
Why it stands out: SoFi charges no upfront fees to open and maintain automated investing accounts. While some funds in your portfolio have underlying costs, you'll only need $1 to start investing.
Among SoFi's account offerings are no-fee ETF and stock trading, fractional share investing, automatic portfolio rebalancing, and fee-free hybrid savings and checking accounts. In addition, SoFi members can utilize discounts on car loans, career advancement tools, and free consultations with CFP professionals.
What to look out for: A couple of things to pay attention to is that SoFi doesn't offer tax-loss harvesting for investment accounts, and the company's automated accounts only invest your money in ETFs.
|Editor's rating||4.6 out of 5|
|Fees||$45 - $250 per year|
Why it stands out: Blooom is one of the few online advisors managing 401(k)s and other retirement plans. The investment app also offers ongoing portfolio monitoring and rebalancing, and it provides a free retirement tool that analyzes your workplace plan or IRA. Fees for this investment platform range from $45 to $250 per year.
What to look out for: The flat fees are higher on lower balances. For example, the $120 per year fee for one account is equal to 1.2% on a $10,000 balance. Another thing to note is that Blooom only accepts retirement accounts held at Fidelity or Vanguard.
Vanguard Personal Advisor Services
|Editor's rating||4.6 out of 5|
|Fees||0.05% - 0.30% AUM|
Why it stands out: Vanguard Personal Advisor Services offers robo-advice along with professional guidance from financial advisors. Though you'll need $50,000 to begin, you'll get access to automated investment management and advisors who will help you with things like tax planning, estate planning, and charitable giving.
Another thing to consider is that Vanguard Personal Advisor Services charges lower fees for higher account balances. For instance, Vanguard charges 0.30% per year for account balances lower than $5 million. For account balances between $5 million and $10 million, the company charges 0.20%. If you've got between $10 million and $25 million, you'll pay a 0.10% annual fee. And you'll pay 0.05% in annual fees if your account balance is greater than $25 million.
What to look out for: Remember that you'll need $50,000 to set up an account with Vanguard Personal Advisor Services. Another thing to note is that the account doesn't include automatic tax-loss harvesting.
How we chose the best financial advisors
We compared 15 Registered Investment advisors (RIAs), weighing the following five categories equally.
Fees: What are the costs? Are they justified when considering the services offered?
Access: Who can use the service? Is it limited to a certain geographic location or available nationwide?
Ethics: Are the experts Certified Financial Planners and/or fiduciaries? Does the company have any disciplinary history over the past three years? What is the company's investing philosophy?
Services: What is included for the cost? What else do you get working with this company (savings or checking accounts, budgeting tools, financial advice)?
Minimum balance: What is the minimum balance for an investment account? Is it accessible for beginners?
Other online financial advisors we considered
- Vanguard Digital Advisor: You can think of Vanguard Digital Advisor as Vanguard's second robo-advisor offering. The difference between Vanguard Digital Advisor and Vanguard Personal Advisor Services comes down to fees and human advisor access. Though you'll pay less for Vanguard Digital Advisor ($3,000 minimum deposit and 0.15% annual fee), you won't be able to utilize personalized support from a professional financial planner.
- Personal Capital: Personal Capital offers competitive robo-advisor services. The investment app also gives you access to human financial advisors, and it offers account features like tax-loss harvesting, single stock diversification, Retirement Planner, and more. The biggest drawback is cost. You'll need a minimum balance of $100,000 to get started, and you'll pay between 0.49% and 0.89% in management fees.
- Harness Wealth: This company uses an algorithm that matches you with other firms and advisors that align with your financial goals. So if you're strictly looking for robo-advice and automated investment management, Harness Wealth may not be the best option.
- Ellevest: Ellevest offers several competive features, including personalized portfolios and goal-based investing, career coaching, bank accounts, and more. One thing to consider is that you'll have to pay more for additional account perks, and you'll pay monthly fees instead of an annual fee.
- Charles Schwab Intelligent Portfolio Premium: This account offers several attractive features, including automated investment management and unlimited one-on-one access to a certified financial planner (CFP). But you'll need at least $25,000 to get started, and you'll have to pay a one-time planning fee of $300 plus $30 per month.
- Rebalance 360: Rebalance 360 is an investment management company that specializes in retirement investing and financial planning. This advisory business pairs you with finance professionals, but you'll need at least $100,000 to begin. You'll also pay up to 0.70% in annual fees.
- Wealthsimple: This investment app has no minimum account size requirements, but compared to other advisors on this list, you'll pay more in advisory fees. If you've got an account balance less than $100,000, you'll be responsible for a 0.50% annual fee. However, for clients with more than $100,000, Wealthsimple charges 0.40% per year.
- Fidelity Go: Created as Fidelity Investments' robo-advisor offering, Fidelity Go provides low-cost automated investment management, and it supports individual and joint brokerage accounts, traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, and more. The robo-advisor has a tiered pricing structure that charges $0 for balances under $10,000. However, you'll have to pay $3 per month if you've got a balance between $10,000 and $49,999. If you've got $50,000 or higher, you'll have to pay a 0.35% annual fee. You won't be able to utilize human advisor access unless you upgrade to Fidelity Personalized Planning & Advice (this account requires a $25,000 minimum and 0.50% annual fee).
- Facet Wealth: This company offers virtual financial planning services and requires no account minimums for prospective clients. Unlike most robo-advisors that primarily offer investment management, Facet Wealth provides personalized financial plans that target multiple areas of your finances. This may be a more expensive option than other online advisors, since you'll pay annual flat fees ranging from $1,200 to $6,000.
- Stash Wealth: Stash Wealth offers a wide range of virtual and personalized financial planning services for individuals, couples, and entrepreneurs. The company lets potential clients book calls with team members to see if Stash is right for them. One thing to consider is that individuals will be responsible for a flat fee of $1,497. Couples will need $1,997, and entrepreneurs will need $2,497 to get started.
How to find an in-person financial advisor
If you'd rather meet with an expert face-to-face, here are the best free online tools for finding one in your area:
- CFP Board's Let's Make a Plan
- This is a database of all CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals who are authorized to use their CFP® marks by the CFP® Board and are accepting new clients.
- Using the advanced search function, you can choose from over 40 focus areas you're looking to get help with and include your current amount of investable assets.
- Click here to visit CFP Board website.
- XY Planning Network
- This database helps connect young professionals — those included in generations X and Y (millennials) — with individual advisors.
- Every advisor holds the CFP® certification, is a fiduciary, does not require a minimum net worth to take on new clients, and does not earn commissions.
- Click here to visit XY Planning Network.
- SmartAsset's SmartAdvisor Match tool
- This tool asks users to answer a few questions about their income, savings, investments, and goals. In less than 10 minutes, it matches you with up to three advisors who will reach out to you after SmartAdvisor's concierge team calls to confirm your request.
- Every financial advisor on the platform is a fiduciary, must be registered at the federal or state level, and has not had a felony conviction or disclosure within the past 10 years.
- Click here to visit SmartAdvisor.
- The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors
- This platform maintains a database of fee-only financial advisors, not specifically CFP® certificants, who commit to a fiduciary oath once a year.
- You can filter by location to see a list of advisory firms in your area.
- Click here to visit the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors website.
Frequently asked questions
Why trust our recommendations?
Personal Finance Insider's mission is to help smart people make the best decisions with their money. We understand that "best" is often subjective, so in addition to highlighting the clear benefits of a financial product, we outline the limitations, too. We spent hours comparing and contrasting the features and fine print of various products and services so you don't have to.
What is the best financial advisor company?
The best financial advisor depends on what you're looking for. There are typically two categories: so-called robo-advisors, which use computer algorithms to create an investment portfolio and offer advice, and hybrid advisors, which combine technology and human advice, sometimes at a higher price point.
Someone seeking comprehensive and personalized advice should consider Betterment — which offers one-time financial planning packages for a fee as well as complimentary, ongoing financial advice for clients with a balance above $100,000 — or Vanguard Personal Advisor Services — which helps clients with a balance above $50,000 create a full financial plan before turning to investment strategy.
Is a financial advisor worth it?
Not everyone needs a financial advisor — human or otherwise. However, you should consider paying a financial advisor if you need specific advice on your finances or investment strategy or you're too overwhelmed or confused by your money to plan for retirement or invest in the stock market.
Most online financial advisors charge clients monthly or quarterly. You can always cancel if you don't feel like you're getting your money's worth.
How do I choose a good financial advisor?
A financial advisor is a catch-all term for financial planners and investment advisors. Most online advisors offer both investment management — whether it's carried out by a human or a sophisticated computer algorithm — and financial planning services or tools.
It's imperative to look for financial advisors who follow the fiduciary rule, meaning they operate in their clients' best interest, and are fee-only. This means client fees are their only compensation and they don't earn commission when you invest in certain funds or buy financial products.
Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. We occasionally highlight financial products and services that can help you make smarter decisions with your money. We do not give investment advice or encourage you to adopt a certain investment strategy. What you decide to do with your money is up to you. If you take action based on one of our recommendations, we get a small share of the revenue from our commerce partners. This does not influence whether we feature a financial product or service. We operate independently from our advertising sales team.