Clark Howard

What’s the Best Place To Get Investing Advice From an Advisor if I Have Limited Assets?

Investing used to be exclusive to the wealthy. It’s taken the private industry decades to democratize investing.

Money expert Clark Howard likes to mention Charles Schwab, the first discount broker, and the impact that’s had on market accessibility for the average retail investor. Robinhood became the first to offer free trades on stocks and ETFs.

The next bastion, and one that has slowly fallen in the last decade, has been financial advice. Long limited to those with significant wealth — often $500,000 or more in investable assets — fintech companies and innovators have introduced new options.

It's still a question many people have: Where can I turn for financial and investing advice with limited capital? But the possible answers now include robo-advisors, hybrid advisors and flat fee financial advisors, not just full-fledged, traditional 1% financial advisors.

How Can I Get Investing Advice With Limited Money?

Can I hire a financial advisor without much investable money?

That’s what a Clark Howard listener recently asked.

Asked Danielle in Massachusetts: "Where should I go for help if I have less than $50,000 in savings, IRAs, etc. and need a financial advisor? I've tried contacting several fee-only advisors in my area and none will help me because I don't have enough money saved up.

"I currently have Vanguard and Schwab, as well as some CDs at another bank. I am not experienced enough to do investing or trading on my own at Vanguard or Schwab, so how do I find someone who will advise me on a permanent basis?"

The last sentence of Danielle’s question is key. She said she wants help with her investments. If investing is all you need help with, you don’t need a traditional financial advisor even if you have enough investable money to qualify.

Clark credits Betterment and Wealthfront, our two favorite robo-advisors, with breaking ground and creating competition. Both companies offer self-driven retirement planning tools that offer great non-human guidance on your goals and savings. And they charge annual management fees of just 0.25%.

In response, Clark's favorite investment companies — Fidelity, Schwab and Vanguard — all have created robo-advisors and hybrid advisors that offer some level of software and human guidance.

“Schwab has Intelligent Portfolios [offering] a free mathematical formula to help you build a portfolio based on your general goals in life. At Fidelity, they provide free portfolio planning for people who have up to $25,000 — Fidelity Go. And then above that, you pay a fee of 0.35%. And then Vanguard has Digital Advisor that will build an investment portfolio based on your goals and situation And it’s 0.15%.

“In your case, you already have Vanguard and Schwab. Compare Intelligent Portfolios at Schwab, Vanguard’s Digital Advisor, Wealthfront and Betterment and see which one seems like it’s answering the concerns, the questions that you have the most at your size of money that you’re trying to manage and invest.”

Final Thoughts

If you’re only looking for investment advice, you don’t need six- or seven-figure portfolios for the right to pay 1% to an advisor each year.

Instead, check out the best robo-advisor and hybrid advisor options at Betterment, Wealthfront, Fidelity, Schwab and Vanguard. You should be able to pay somewhere between 0.25% and 0.40% in annual fees to get everything you want.

You can also look into flat-fee financial advisors, which are becoming more prominent.

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