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To be considered, companies needed to meet Annuity.org’s set criteria:
Services must be available nationally
Assets under management (AUM) must be $1 billion or more
Services must be held to fiduciary duty
Understanding Our Methodology
Annuity.org’s independent editorial team developed a strict and industry-specific methodology to help ensure that only the most effective portfolio management and retirement planning companies were considered.
To ensure access to all consumers, services were only considered if they were available nationally and easily accessible to general consumers.
Each company also needed to have assets under management of $1 billion or more to help ensure that all companies that were evaluated had a wide reach, were financially secure and have a proven track record of serving consumers. The wealth management and investment advisory services offered by the company also must abide by fiduciary duty.
When comparing companies, Annuity.org took numerous other differentiating factors into consideration as well. This included the variety and depth of the financial advising services offered by the company, the costs, commissions and minimum amounts associated with those services, the user-friendliness of the company’s website and services, along with transparency of offerings. Whether companies placed — and how well they fared — in several J.D. Power studies, including the Investor Satisfaction Study and Digital Experience Study was also considered.
Learn more about our broader Editorial Guidelines.
In today’s world of financial advisors, the use of digital financial advisors is growing rapidly. They offer low fees and low account minimums. Contact a financial professional to see whether investing with a digital financial advisor would make sense for your financial situation.
Editor’s Choice: Best Overall
With its upfront transparency of its fiduciary duty and its generally low advisory fees, Vanguard’s advisory services are a strong choice for those looking to work with a fiduciary and see their accounts grow.
Pros & Cons
- Generally low advisory fees
- Strong diversity of services offered
- Highly ranked option for investors seeking guidance
- Slightly below average in investor satisfaction
- Ranks poorly in digital experience
Best for Low Account Minimums
While financial advisory services can be beneficial to many different types of clients, account minimums sometimes serve as a barrier between prospective investors and those services. Fidelity, which is a fiduciary when acting as an investment advisor, offers several options with accessible account minimums.
Pros & Cons
- Low account minimums
- Strong variety of investment advisory services
- Ranked highly in investor satisfaction
- Advisory fees are higher than some competitors
- Ranked slightly below industry average in digital experience
Best for Digital Experience
More and more investors are getting involved in managing and growing their wealth through apps and online services. One fiduciary option that stands out in the online sphere is J.P. Morgan, which ranked No. 1 in the J.D. Power Digital Experience Study.
Pros & Cons
- Ranked No. 1 for digital experience
- Beneficial offers for new clients
- Ranked below industry average in investor satisfaction
For investors interested in fiduciary options, there is a lot to like about robo-advisors. These services automatically invest and grow your wealth within the parameters you set, removing the human element. Thanks to its track record of success, Wealthfront stands out.
Pros & Cons
- History of strong returns
- Low advisory fee compared to traditional options
- Not as robust or personalized as working with a dedicated advisor
Others We Considered
- Charles Schwab
- Annuity.org could not verify whether certain Charles Scwhab services and offerings act in a fiduciary capacity.
- Morgan Stanley
- The company was considered but was not included due to its below-industry-average ratings in the J.D. Power Investor Satisfaction Study and Digital Experience Study.
What Is a Fiduciary Financial Advisor?
When you work with a fiduciary financial advisor, you can be certain that your interests and goals will always be placed first. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a fiduciary is required by law to manage a client’s money for the client’s benefit and only act in their best interest.
Fiduciary financial advisors can be appealing to consumers because it helps to guarantee that you are receiving sound and honest financial advice.
An investment or brokerage firm that is not bound by fiduciary duty could, for example, push you towards certain investments or manage your money in a way that helps the firm’s bottom line even if it isn’t the best financial decision for you.
The disingenuine motives can be a major concern for clients. But that worry is removed when dealing with a fiduciary, since there is a legal requirement for them to always act in your best interest and make decisions only if they benefit you or are at your direction.
Selecting the Right Fiduciary Financial Advisor for You
There are several factors that go into selecting the right financial advisor for you. There are also numerous fiduciary options. Many companies’ investment advisory services are bound by fiduciary duty.
But it is important to be sure that you are working with a fiduciary if that is something that is important to you. Not all companies are fully transparent about where fiduciary duty applies or how the advisors you work with are compensated.
When selecting the right financial advisor, it can be helpful to directly ask the company you are considering working with whether they are bound by fiduciary duty and how advisors working on your account are compensated.
Part of selecting the right advisor is determining what type of service you are looking for, as well. It’s important to ask the right questions to ensure that they’re the right match for your needs. Investment advisory firms can manage and grow your money in many ways.
If you want to get into investing without paying a significant amount or dealing with working with an advisor, then a robo-advisor service can make sense for you. These services automatically invest your money within the parameters you select and typically have a lower advisory fee than a traditional financial advisor.
As far as traditional options, companies typically offer scaled services. You can opt for a service that gives you access to an advisor and some management, or a more robust service that may come with a dedicated advisor and even more hands-on attention and advice.
Prices vary by company, but the advisory fee tends to be a smaller percentage the larger your investment is.
Frequently Asked Questions About Fiduciary Financial Advisors
All financial advisors are not automatically fiduciaries. Whether a company and its advisors are bound by fiduciary duty may vary depending on the type of service you receive from them.
There isn’t one way that fiduciary financial advisors are paid, and that payment varies from company to company. They may be compensated on a set scale, or they may receive a percentage of the assets they manage.
The easiest way to find out is to directly ask the financial advisor. If they are, they should be able to clearly answer you that they are a fiduciary and bound by fiduciary duty.