Financial Advisors


Financial advisors are professionals who deliver financial planning services and investment advice to individuals, companies, and governments. They assist clients to meet their financial goals such as savings, retirement planning, taxes treatment and will. For example, a financial advisor will recommend a married couple who is trying to save for their children's education expenses to invest in an education savings plan like the 529 plan,[1] whereas a client reaching her forties to invest in the Roth 401(k)/403(b) plan.[2] In general, a financial advisor's responsibility is to determine his or her client's financial goal and risk tolerance and recommend investment strategies accordingly. Financial advisors can help clients invest in financial products like stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, REITs, options, futures and other financial derivatives.

In the United States, financial advisors must be registered under the SEC if they have $25 million or more asset under management (AUM). As for assets under $25 million, financial advisors must register under state securities agency where they have their principal place of business. SEC's definition of AUM is defined in the Form ADV Part 1.[3]

Financial advisors can be pension fund managers, trust fund managers, mutual fund managers as well as individuals, partnerships, or corporations who are registered.

Type of Financial Advisors

Fee-only - Fee-only advisors charges a flat hourly rate for his or her services.

Fee-based - Fee-based advisors charge both fees and collect commissions. The commissions that these type of financial advisors receive are based on the various financial products they broker.

Client-centered - Client-centered advisors charge a fee based on the assets managed for their clients, rather than by an hourly rate.

Investment Advisors Ranked by Most Assets Under Management/Custody

Rank Company Fee-based AUM as of 12/31/2008 ($ Bil)
1Charles Schwab$447.0
2Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services$290.4
3TD Ameritrade Institutional$80.0
4Pershing Advisor Solutions LLC$60.2
5LPL Financial$56.3
6Raymond James Financial Services, Inc$32.4
8Commonwealth Financial Network$14.7
9Cambridge Investment Research, Inc$13.0
10Royal Alliance Associates$12.2
11Securities America Advisors, Inc$11.2
12FSC Securities Corporation$9.8
13Northwestern Mutual$9.7
14Financial Network Investment Corp., AN ING Co$8.7
15Trust Company of America$7.0
16NFP Securities, Inc$6.7
17Sagepoint Financial$5.8
18Mutual Service Corporation$4.5
19Triad Advisors, Inc$4.0
20H.D. Vest Financial Services$3.96
21Securian Financial Services, Inc$3.95
22National Planning Corporation (NPC$3.2
23Genworth Financial Advisers Corp$3.1
24Multi-Financial Securities Corp$3.0
25Waterstone Financial Group$2.8
27ING Financial Partners, An ING Co$2.5
28Capital Analysts Incorporated$2.3
29Genos Wealth Management$2.0
30Proequities Inc$1.9
31Shareholders Service Group$1.9
32VSR Financial Services Inc$1.8
33SII Investments Inc$1.6
34Invest Financial Corporation$1.6
35Securities Service Network Inc$1.6
36Woodbury Financial Services$1.59
37Ameritas Investment Corp$1.54
38United Planners Financial Services$1.46
39Cadaret, Grant & Co, Inc$1.27
40Equity Services, Inc$1.05
41Capital Financial Group/H.Beck Inc$1.0
42Comprehensive Group, The$1.0
43Investment Center Inc, The$1.0
44Planmember Securities$0.948
45American Portfolios Financial Services, Inc$0.936
46Independent Financial Group$0.932
47Associated Securities Corp$0.9
48Pacific West Financial Group$0.846
50Sigma Financial Corporation$0.76


  1. SEC An Introduction to 529 Plans
  2. Investopedia: 401(k) plan
  3. SEC Gov
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