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How Much To Pay?

How Much Does a Fee-Only Financial Advisor Cost?

You wouldn't buy a car without knowing how much it costs. You wouldn't agree to have surgery without some idea of how much it would cost you beforehand. So why would you invest your money without knowing how much you're paying for financial advice?

The unfortunate truth is that many people don't ask this question - and they end up overpaying for financial advice. 

A recent Harris Poll found that a staggering 60% of Americans don't know how much they pay their financial advisor. And almost half (47%) of investors mistakenly assume the costs of mutual funds and EFTs, are automatically included in their advisory charge, without asking!

That's why it's crucial to ask your financial advisor how much they charge - and to make sure you understand what you're paying for.

Like most people, you probably don't have time to read through a bunch of fine print just to find out how much a financial planner is going to cost. Plus, some sneak in hidden fees that can really add up over time. If you're had enough of being overcharged, and are fed up with ambiguous billing practices, it's time to switch to a fee-only planner.

Fee-only planners are transparent and upfront about our pricing schedules. You'll always know exactly what you're paying for - and there won't be any nasty surprises down the road. Just peace of mind knowing that your financial planner is working in your best interests.

The Fee-Only Difference

A lot of people think that all financial planners are the same, but that's not true. There are two main types of financial planners- fee-only and commission-based (and a third one, fee-based, which is still basically commission by stealth). We've explained the differences between these three types of planners before, but here's a quick overview:

Commission-based planners get paid by the companies that sell you products. When you buy a mutual fund, an annuity, or any other investment product, the commission-based planner gets a commission from the company. The more products you buy, the more money the planner makes. And the products they are incentivized to sell may not be the correct one’s for you.

Fee-only planners don't get paid by companies. We get paid by our clients, which means we are free of conflict of interests. We are dedicated to finding the best solutions for you. Our only motivation is to help you grow your wealth and reach your goals.

Fee-based planners are a bit of a hybrid; they get some of their income from commissions, and some from fees. But because they still get paid by the companies that sell you products, they have the same conflict of interest as commission-based planners.

Which would you prefer: a planner who's paid by third parties to sell you products, or one who's paid by you to help you achieve your financial goals? The answer is clear. Fee-only planners are the right choice for anyone looking for unbiased, objective financial advice.

  • How Does a Fee-Only Financial Advisor Charge?

How do you pay your financial advisor if they're a fee-only planner? At first glance, schedules may appear higher than commission-based or fee-based planners. But remember, you're not paying for products, you're paying for advice. And it's important to remember that a good financial advisor provides a valuable service that can save you money.

The cost of a financial advisor varies depending on the type of services you need and the amount of money you have to invest.

There are a few different options for paying fee-only planners:

Hourly rate

Flat annual fee

Flat fee per-project

Assets under management fees (AUM)

When it comes to fee-only financial planners, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, those who charge by the hour or per project are generally more accessible to clients of all asset levels. On the other hand, fee-only planners who charge AUM typically work with clients who have at least $250,000 to invest. If you're looking for a fee-only planner, it's important to consider how much money you have to invest. Additionally, it's worth noting that annual planners are often able to provide more comprehensive services than those who charge by the hour. As a result, they can be a great option for investors who are looking for total financial planning services.

No matter what pricing structure your financial advisor uses, you're paying for quality advice and service. When you compare the price against the long-term costs of biased or poor financial planning, the value is clear. A competent, fee-only financial advisor is worth their weight in gold.

  • What questions should I ask my financial advisor before signing up?

The important thing is to find an advisor who is a good fit for you. Fees are an important consideration, but they shouldn't be the only factor. Consider things like the advisor's experience, qualifications, and fiduciary status.

If you're considering working with a fee-only financial planner, there are a few questions you should ask them before signing up. Here are a few examples:

  • How are you compensated?

  • Do you have any conflicts of interest?

  • Are you a fiduciary?

  • What services do you offer?

  • How are your fees structured?

  • Do you have experience with my situation?

  • Can you work with me over the phone or online?

  • Is there an initial consultation fee?

  • What is the minimum investment I need to work with you?

  • What are your qualifications?

  • How long have you been practicing?

  • Do you have any reviews or testimonials?

Make sure to ask as many questions as you need to feel comfortable and confident with your financial advisor. The important thing is to ask lots of questions until you're comfortable with your advisor. You can research your potential advisor on regulator websites like FINRA BrokerCheck and Investor.gov to check their credentials, background, and reputation. Don't be afraid to shop around for the best fit. You're investing in your future, so you should take the time to find an advisor you can trust.

  • How Does a Fee-Only Financial Advisor Charge?

Now that you know a little more about how fee-only financial advisors charge, let's look at some pricing schedules from our team. We believe in transparency, so all our advisors disclose how much they charge and what services they can offer.

Keep in mind that pricing schedules will vary depending on the advisor's specialty, experience, qualifications, and services offered. It's important to find an advisor that aligns with your values and fits your budget. There's a lot of variation in the financial planning world! But there's a fee-only financial advisor out there for everyone.

(You can also check what the acronyms for all the credentials and designations mean - and the financial specialties they denote - with our handy guide here).

Our Advisors and their Fee Schedules

Robert Finley, from Virtue Asset Management, is a highly experienced and sought-after financial planner, with over 15 years of experience in the industry. He's a CFA charterholder and CFP® certificant, with a wealth of expertise in portfolio management for high-net-worth individuals. Recently, Robert managed over $375 million for private clients.

Robert manages assets of <$3M at 0.8%, $3-5M at 0.6%, and amounts of $5M+ at 0.5%.

Paul Costello, from Costello Financial Planning, is a CPA with a background in futures trading and Wall Street banking. After years of working on the "dark side" of finance, Paul decided to pursue a more fulfilling career as a fee-only financial advisor. Here, he enjoys discussing tax and personal finance solutions with his clients who trust his advice and recommendations. 

Paul manages assets of <$1M at 0.99%, $1-$2M at 0.89%, and amounts over $5M at 0.49%

Charlie Horonzy, from Focused Up Financial, holds CPA and CFP® designations, with experience in both the public and private accounting sectors. After realizing that he wanted to help people in a more direct way, he dedicated a year to service work, which changed the course of his life. He is passionate about helping others better their financial goals throughout every aspect of their lives.

Charlie offers comprehensive planning at a proportional percentage of Net Worth and Income. Charlie also offers affordable one-time planning at a flat fee of $750, or at an hourly fee ranging between $150-$250. Pricing for tax prep is based on the estimated complexity of the return.

Curt Stowers, from F5 Financial, is a CFP® certificant with a PhD, and over 10 years of experience as a financial advisor. Strong in his Christian faith, Curt endeavors to help his clients build wealth in a way that honors God. Curt helps individuals and families with his holistic financial planning approach, incorporating budgeting, saving, investing, and estate planning into one comprehensive plan. Curt ensures that each aspect in a portfolio is working together to meet the client's unique goals.

Curt offers his services based on a flat annual fee. Starting at $4,000 for assets less than $500k and increasing up to $15k for assets $2.0M-$2.5M. The annual fee is negotiable over $2.5M.

Jeff Dvorak, from 4D Financial Advisors, holds the CFP® and CPWA® designations. He helps his clients to navigate the financial industry's jargon and chaos to make important decisions throughout their lives. Jeff is also a member of the Financial Planning Association and National Association of Personal Financial Advisors.

Jeff offers one-time planning at a flat fee of $4k. He manages assets on a sliding scale, starting at $5,000 for assets less than $500k. For assets over $3M, Jeff charges a flat fee of $20,500 plus an additional 0.35% for the amount over the $3M threshold.

Ben Hockema, from Illuminate Wealth Management, is a CFP® who helps individuals, families, and small business owners with their financial planning. He works to empower his clients to make decisions about their money that helps them achieve their goals, find fulfillment in their finances, and prepare for their future.

Ben charges for comprehensive wealth management at 0.6% of Net Worth, with a $6k minimum fee. For investment services only, he charges 0.75% of the portfolio value. Ben also offers one-time project fees of $2,400-$5,000.

Dave Grant, from Retirement Matters, is a CFP®. Dave has assisted hundreds of clients to plan for their retirement. Dave is a strong advocate for the fee-only model of financial planning. With the fee-only model, Dave knows that his clients can rely on him to keep their best interests at the forefront of his advice.

Dave offers a one-time planning fee of $4K, and offers an ongoing wealth management fee of 1% for the first $3M (0.5% thereafter).

  • A Fee-Only Financial Advisor for You

There are many different options when it comes to finding a financial advisor. You could go with a big-name firm that offers cookie-cutter advice, or you could work with a smaller, independent advisor who will create a custom plan tailored to your specific needs. People think that if they go to a big bank or firm, they'll be getting a good deal. But all too often these planners are incentivized to sell you products that may not be in your best interest and may significantly harm your financial future.

That's why we recommend finding a Fee-Only financial advisor with a fiduciary duty to their clients. Before you sign up for a plan or make any investments, ask your potential advisor how they are compensated. If they're not upfront about it, that's a big red flag.

Our advisors all work on a fee-only basis, which means they are compensated only by the fees you pay them. This eliminates the possibility of conflicts of interest and allows these advisors to focus on what's best for you, not their own bottom line. And as you can see from the featured schedules above, we're transparent about prices.

Chicago Fee-Only is dedicated to helping people navigate their finances. Whether you're looking for an annual planning session or need one-time advice on how to invest your assets, our experts are available at affordable rates and with no hidden charges. We believe that everybody should have access to quality financial advice, and our fee-only model ensures that our advisors will always have your best interests at heart. Contact us today to set up a consultation with one of our professionals so we can get started on helping you attain your financial goals.