FA 100: CNBC recognizes advisory firms that help clients navigate their financial lives

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Let’s be honest: Making personal financial decisions can be challenging.

There’s a variety of investment options, all of which carry some form of risk. And, of course, there are many types of retirement plans to choose from, each with their own set of tax consequences.

The seemingly endless amount of choices can make it overwhelming for many investors.

The bottom line is that there’s an overload of investment possibilities. And, for many, planning and managing those options can be complicated.

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How the pandemic has changed the financial advice business
Here’s how top financial advisors are hiring young talent

For some, do-it-yourself investing holds significant appeal. Many of these investors are perfectly capable of self-managing their own portfolios. However, other investors feel they need to hire a financial expert to create a game plan to meet their specific financial goals.

To be sure, there has been a growing demand for financial advisory services in the wake of the pandemic. To that point, a 2020 survey by The College for Financial Planning concluded that demand for financial advice has increased since the outbreak of Covid-19, with 71% of financial advisors polled saying they have more clients now than prior to the pandemic.

Indeed, the pandemic had consumers looking to financial professionals for guidance, according to a Nationwide Financial survey of more than 2,000 adults, conducted during the first week of April 2020. The survey concluded: “With so much uncertainty, many people looked for help in identifying ways to take better control of their finances.”

The poll found that 24% of respondents said they reached out to a financial professional for the first time as a result of the pandemic. The survey also found 80% of respondents felt they lost control of their ability to manage their investments and finances since the pandemic emerged.

Times of uncertainty are usually a trigger for people seeking advice, experts say.

Of course, finding that financial advisor who is the right match for you comes with its own set of challenges. And since an advisor can play a key role in helping you grow and protect your wealth, it’s important to find one you trust and who will help you achieve your personal financial goals.

There are so many things to consider before choosing the right advisor.

The services provided by financial advisors will vary based on the type of advisor, but overall, a financial advisor will assess your current financial situation — including your assets, debts and expenses — and identify areas for improvement.

A good financial advisor will ask you about your goals and create a plan to help you reach them. That may mean discussing your budget, retirement planning, estate planning, insurance needs or tax strategies. Financial advisors also help invest your money, either by recommending specific investments or providing complete investment management. Again, it varies from advisor to advisor.

And contrary to common belief, financial advice isn’t just for the wealthy. In fact, the right guidance early in anyone’s financial life can have the biggest impact on long-term financial success.

Finding the financial advisor for you

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That’s why it’s so important to find a financial advisor you trust. Doing so comes down to engaging in some research and homework, interviewing several advisors and asking the right questions. Here are some questions you should pose to a prospective advisor:

  • How long have you been a financial advisor?
  • Are you a fiduciary?
  • Do you hold any professional certifications or designations?
  • What services do you offer?
  • What’s your investment strategy or style?
  • How are you compensated? And how much will I be charged for your services?
  • When, how and how often do you talk to clients?
  • Can you offer some client referrals?

For the third year in a row, CNBC unveils its ranking of top financial advisors.

The CNBC FA 100 recognizes those advisory firms that best help clients navigate their financial lives. If you are looking for some financial assistance, we hope this list of top financial advisory firms can aid you in your search. It may help you better understand the options that are available and how to select a trusted advisor.

The CNBC FA 100 ranking takes into consideration factors beyond just assets under management. The ranking is based on a proprietary methodology developed by CNBC in partnership with data provider AccuPoint Solutions. (View the methodology here.) It was based on data culled from SEC filings from a list of 38,302 registered investment advisory firms.

Tune in to CNBC’s Halftime Report at 12 ET today to see chief investment officer Joe Veranth of Dana Investment Advisors, Inc., which earned the top spot on the CNBC FA 100 list.

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