Online tools such as the SEC’s Investment Adviser Public Disclosure provide information on financial advisors such as registration status, employment history, disciplinary actions, and customer complaints. In choosing one, it’s essential to check their backgrounds, skills, and experience.
For such an important role, fee-only advisors can be very valuable to families that are seeking advice on their finances. They are held to a fiduciary standard that requires them to avoid conflicts of interest, such as recommending investment products they might earn a commission on.
This is an important difference. Fee-only advisors charge only a fee, usually based on assets under management, but potentially through fixed or hourly fees, as well. Fee-based advisors, charge fees for their services, much like fee-only advisors, but they may also make money through commissions or broker fees. To avoid conflicts of interest, the fee-only structure is generally preferred.
If the fee is based on assets under management, fees usually begin at 1% of the assets managed by the advisor and may decline as a client designates larger sums for the advisor to manage. An hourly fee, meanwhile, may range between $200 and $400.