Financial Advisors for Young Adults

Discover how financial advisors can strengthen a young adult’s finances.

Couple talking to a financial advisor
Updated May 13, 2024
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As a young adult, can a financial advisor help you achieve your goals?

Receiving professional advice early can keep you away from common mistakes and get more out of every dollar you earn. A financial advisor can be a profitable investment if that expert helps you make better decisions with your money while you are still young.

You could work with a financial advisor in person or start with a robo-advisor, which is an affordable way to access financial guidance.

Learn more about working with a financial advisor, along with the pros and cons.

In this article

Key takeaways

  • Young adults can achieve their financial goals sooner with a good financial advisor.
  • Robo-advisors like Stash and Acorns are much cheaper and can a good choice for young adults.
  • An in-person financial advisor can offer personalized suggestions that you may not receive if you rely on robo-advisors and AI-powered financial advisors, but they are more expensive.
  • Look at a financial advisor’s experience and payment structure before deciding to work with them.

What is a financial advisor?

A financial advisor is a professional who helps clients manage their money. Some advisors cover broad areas while others specialize in niche topics like tax management, retirement accounts, and investing.

There isn’t a set path to becoming a financial advisor. Many choose to become a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), which requires coursework along with practical experience along with a bachelor’s degree or higher. It can take more than a year to prepare for the CFP exam.

Financial advisors who directly handle investments will need to pass one or more FINRA exams, such as Series 6 and Series 7.

The exams and requirements ensure financial advisors are knowledgeable about money management. Financial advisors share personalized tips and strategies with their clients. They will look closely at your income, expenses, investments, and other information that you provide.

Tip
Some financial advisors are fiduciaries. Fiduciaries are required to act in a client’s best interest and disclose any potential conflicts of interest they might have.

The main advantage of working with a financial advisor is the level of personalization. An advisor can look at your finances and offer strategies that specifically apply to you. While some AI tools offer financial insights, they cannot offer the level of personalization that a human advisor can provide.

Financial advisors with several skill sets can also continue to serve you as your goals change. Young adults may focus on budgeting and investing, but clients often set their sights on estate planning and long-term care as they get older. Having the same financial advisor throughout the process can give you more confidence as you navigate your finances.

Do young adults need a financial advisor?

Young adults have a lot of time before retirement as they are in the early stages of career development. You can learn how to invest money along the way, but that approach could be risky and lead to losses. A financial advisor can give you a sense of direction and make your goals feel more realistic. You’ll also learn what you can do to move closer to your long-term objectives.

Working with a financial advisor early is especially valuable since your cost of living is typically lower as a young adult. Many young adults only have to worry about their immediate expenses, which makes it easier for them to contribute more money to their retirement accounts and other investments each month.

Financial advisors can act as mentors who make you more conscious about how you use your money. You can also gain a better sense of how each purchase or investment helps or hurts your financial future.

However, you may want to think twice about working with a financial advisor if a professional’s services are outside of your budget. Young adults should not go into debt to have sessions with a financial advisor.

How much does a financial advisor cost?

The total costs of working with a financial advisor depend on the business model and how often you see them. Every financial advisor operates under one of these payment structures.

  • Per hour: You pay for every hour you receive advice from financial advisors. They usually charge $200 to $400 per hour.
  • Flat rate: Financial advisors under this model only receive a flat rate for working with you. This flat rate may be a part of a retainer and could cost a few thousand dollars each year.
  • Commission-based: A financial advisor receives a commission if they get clients to use specific mutual funds, insurance policies, and similar products. Commission-based financial advisors can be problematic for clients since these advisors may only recommend funds and products if they receive commissions for selling those products. Many of these advisors also charge for their time in addition to receiving commissions.
  • Assets under management (AUM): A financial advisor who manages your portfolio may charge a 1% annual fee. An investor with a $1 million portfolio, for example, would have to pay a financial advisor $10,000 per year in this scenario. The annual payment fluctuates based on how your portfolio grows over time. Most AUM-based advisors require a minimum portfolio size ($250,000, for example) to work with you.

Most people will have to pay a few thousand dollars each year to have regular financial planning conversations with an advisor. You may benefit from speaking with a per-hour advisor in the beginning if you have a tight budget.

Flat-rate advisors with retainers have higher upfront costs than hourly advisors, but these individuals will get to know you better over time. Advisors can offer better advice as they get to understand your financial situation and long-term goals.

What to look for in a financial advisor

The best financial advisors make it easier for you to achieve your financial objectives. However, some advisors are better than others. These are some of the details to look for in an advisor.

  • Fiduciary status: While you would hope all financial advisors would work in your best interest, only fiduciary advisors are required to. Check whether prospective advisors are fiduciaries.
  • No commission-based payment structure: You shouldn’t work with a financial advisor who is incentivized to steer you away from better investment opportunities that do not offer commissions. Stick with a flat rate or an hourly financial advisor instead.
  • Experience: Financial advisors with more clients have navigated more financial challenges. Their experience can make them more suited to guide you on the right path.
  • Certifications: Financial advisors need certifications to work with clients and give advice. The CFP is a standard certification, and you should see what other credentials the professional has before working with them.
  • Know what you need: Some young adults want help with their investments while others want to prioritize tax planning or early retirement. Or you may want an advisor who’s knowledgeable about socially responsible investing. Knowing this information in advance can help you filter your search for financial advisors who specialize in those areas.
  • Prices: Check a financial advisor’s rate before pursuing the relationship further. Young adults should make sure a professional’s services are within their budget.

Knowing what to look for will help you find the right advisor. It’s possible to find financial advisors on various social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook. You can also run a Google search to find financial advisors in your area so you can meet them in person.

Websites like Unbiased also connect people with financial advisors with expertise in specific topics.

Tip
You’ll generally want to look for a fee-only financial advisor, which is an advisor who doesn’t receive commissions if you invest in products they recommend.

Our robo-advisor recommendations

An in-person financial advisor can offer personalized advice and build a long-term relationship with clients. However, you can get started with more affordable robo-advisors. These are some of the top recommendations to consider if you want to go this route.

Stash

The Stash Portfolio stays on top of your portfolio and lets you automate the investing process. You won’t have to pay any commissions or management fees; you only have to pay for Stash’s monthly plan to use this feature. Stash Growth costs $3 per month, while Stash+ is $9 per month.1 Both accounts give you access to the Smart Portfolio feature, however23 Stash does not offer access to a human advisor.

Visit Stash | Read our Stash review

Acorns

Acorns makes it easy to grow your portfolio with spare change and automated recurring investments. The app has nine million users who have invested more than $15 billion into their portfolios. Clients invest in professionally managed exchange-traded funds (ETFs) based on goals and risk tolerance, and you can also buy individual stocks through a Custom Portfolio. Note that you can’t just have a Custom Portfolio — you must have a Base Portfolio made up of Acorns’ professionally managed options.

Acorns plans range from $3 per month to $9 per month. Two of the plans feature Q&A; sessions with investing experts, but you won’t have access to a dedicated human advisor.

Visit Acorns | Read our Acorns review

M1 Finance

M1 Finance lets people choose their own stocks or use model portfolios. M1 Pies make it easier to visualize your portfolio’s diversification and allocate your funds into multiple assets. It divides your portfolio into “slices” so you can easily see how your funds are allocated.

The app does not charge any commissions, management fees, or trading fees. Just like the other robo-advisors, M1 Finance does not give you access to a human advisor.

Visit M1 | Read our M1 review

FAQ

Should a young person get a financial advisor?

A young person can benefit from working with a financial advisor at an early age. Charting a path toward long-term goals early can lead to a better retirement and make you more conscious about how you spend every dollar.

Where do millennials go for financial advice?

Millennials use several resources for financial advice. Online resources and robo-advisors can help and are a lot cheaper than human advisors. However, human advisors can offer a level of personalization that is difficult to match.

How much money should you have to see a financial advisor?

In general, you should wait until you have at least $50,000 saved up before speaking with a financial advisor. Personalized advice becomes more valuable as you grow your wealth and income, and many advisors have required minimum investment amounts to work with a client.

Financial advisors for young adults: bottom line

Young people should consider building their financial education early and start their retirement planning now. Putting aside some money each month can put you on the path to a smooth retirement and reduce financial stress.

A financial advisor can act as your mentor throughout the process. You can request their insights on retirement accounts, investments, ways to save money on taxes, and other topics surrounding your finances.

While financial advisors can be reliable resources, they aren’t for everyone. It doesn’t make much sense to work with an advisor if investing in their services will put you in debt. You should have at least $50,000 saved up and have stable earnings before working with an advisor.

Robo-advisors are a viable alternative for people who are tight on funds. Companies offering this service can streamline your portfolio management and usually offer educational resources that cover the basics. Personalized advice from a financial advisor can serve you better in the long run, but some people only have enough room in their budgets for robo-advisors.

To get started, check out our list of the best robo-advisors.

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Author Details

Marc Guberti, CPFC

Marc Guberti is a Certified Personal Finance Counselor (CPFC) known for his extensive expertise in personal finance matters. With a degree in finance from Fordham University, Marc has written on everything from investing to banks and credit cards for more than five years.