It could be you are just starting out in the financial advice industry.

Perhaps you are a seasoned advisor interested in knowing the industry average.

Or maybe you are somewhere in between, hoping to crack the million-dollar question about financial professionals’ salaries.

Whatever side of the equation you are in, we’ve got you covered.

By the end of this article, you’ll have a clear idea about:

How financial advisors get paid
Financial advisor salary average
Financial advisors’ popular employers.

Without further ado, let’s get started.

How Do Financial Advisor Get Paid?

Financial advisors get paid through salaries, client fees, commissions, hourly fees, or a combination of these methods.

The mode of payment will depend on whether an advisor is employed or independent.

With that said, here is how the different payment models work.


Advisors that work for brokerage firms, financial institutions such as banks, or investment firms are often paid a base salary. 

Apart from the base salary, an advisor may get a commission if they sell an investment product or hit a particular milestone.

They also get bonuses for bringing in new clients.


In this model, an advisor gets paid a percentage if they sell a product to a client. In such cases, there might be a conflict of interest.

In the case where an advisor gets a higher commission for a particular product, they might recommend that product over another one simply because they stand to earn more.

Client’s Fee

Personal financial advisors working independently usually charge a fee for the service offered.

The fee they charge is based on the asset under management (AUM). 

Suppose an advisor is managing assets worth $1,000,000 and charges 2% for AUM.

They’ll earn $10,000 per year, which is often paid quarterly.

The amount an advisor earns for managing assets is prone to increase as a client’s investment value increases.

It’s common for investment advisors to charge a lower percentage for managing big investment portfolios. 

Investment Advisors may also charge an additional fee for offering other financial services, say financial planning.

This fee could be hourly, where an hourly rate can be anything from $100 to $300.

Some firms charge a flat fee for their additional services.

Depending on the firm’s size, the flat fees can range between $ 1,000 and $3,000.

Further, some advisors charge a performance fee.

This fee is subject to an investment exceeding a predetermined threshold, which an advisor and their client agree upon at the beginning of their working relationship.

In the client fee method, you’ll find fee-only and fee-based advisors. 

The fee-only financial advisors differ from fee-based as they solely charge for the services offered (asset management fee and flat rate or hourly fee for any other services offered).

Fee-based advisors charge a percentage of the assets they are managing.

They also get a commission for any additional products they sell.

In summary, financial advisor salary is not set in stone.

Financial Advisor Average Salary

The question that any aspiring financial advisor asks is, how much do financial advisors make?

Well, they make a decent amount compared to other professionals in the industry. 

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2019 data revealed that the median salary for advisors was  $87,850. 

According to Indeed, the average financial advisor salary is $71,642 per year.

The platform places the average commission of a financial advisor at $30,366.

Payscale shows that as of September 2021, financial advisor’s national average base salary is $60,247.

The annual base salary ranges from $38,000 to $110,000.

Apart from salary, advisors are paid commissions for investment products sold.

There are also bonuses depending on their general performance.

Payscale further reveals that advisors’ bonus per year is between $2,000-$31,000.

The commission, on the other hand, ranges between $39,000 and $194,000.

Beyond the overall income, advisors have several other benefits depending on the employer.

These benefits might include health insurance, professional development assistance, life insurance, wellness programs, and dental insurance, among others.

That’s not all. 

The amount an advisor earns varies widely depending on the years of experience, skill set, and designation. 

The state and city an advisor live in equally affect their annual wage.

Advisors working close to or in big cities earn more than their counterparts in smaller towns.

Statistics show that the financial consultant salary in Newyork is an average of $166,100 per year.

California comes second with an annual average pay of $141,000.

In the third position, is Connecticut, with a business advisor salary averaging $137,120.

Other cities with a higher average salary for advisors include Dallas, Georgia, Pittsburgh, Houston, and Phoenix.

Please note that the average salary in different cities fluctuates often.

Hence, cities where advisors earn the most keep changing.

Financial Advisor Salary by Experience

Just like any other profession, experience is vital when it comes to a financial advisor’s income.

The more experienced an advisor is, the higher their annual wage.

On the flip side, an entry-level advisor will most likely start at a lower scale as they learn the ropes.

Indeed suggests that the average annual wage for advisors is $71,642.

At the same time, Payscale’s average yearly income for advisors stands at $60,247.

While most client advisors’ salary revolves around the average, there are advisors earning way above it.

Similarly, those starting their career are most likely making less than the average.

Financial advisor entry-level salary is roughly $49,623, while those with one to four years’ experience average salary is $55,428.

Experienced advisors with over ten years earn an average of $78,367.

Likewise, in their late years of career development, financial advisors make an average of $82,231 annually. 

A financial advisor earning power is limitless.

The profession has room for growth.

If an advisor is committed to learning and growing their career, they can increase their income several folds.

Financial Advisor Salary by Designation

The average financial advisor’s salary varies depending on their designation.

Read on for an overview of how much an advisor makes by specializing.

Wealth Manager Salary

Wealth management specialists offer specialized financial services to affluent clients.

They help clients achieve their goals through a comprehensive strategy that addresses their client’s diverse needs.

Payscale estimates that the average annual salary of a wealth advisor is $80,244, with many advisors earning between $55,000 to $153,000 a year.

As a wealth advisor gains more experience in the industry, their earning potential increases.

Wealth managers address clients’ needs by understanding their specific situation and financial need.

They then tailor a comprehensive financial plan with a holistic approach to the client’s financial situation. 

Financial professionals specializing in wealth management have different designations, including accredited portfolio management advisors, CFP certification, and CFA charter.

Financial Planner Salary

Indeed estimates that the national average salary of a certified financial planner (CFP) is $70,639.

The financial planner’s annual commission stands at $38,500.

Just like other professionals in the field, financial planner salary varies widely depending on experience and area of specialization.

Entry-level planners earn an average of $50,892.

Financial planners with over 20 years of experience get a total compensation of about $134k.

CFPs work with clients with a wide range of needs.

Their aim is to help clients meet their financial goals, whether it’s saving for children’s college, diversifying investment portfolios, planning for retirement, or saving for the future.

To effectively help clients, advisors interview clients to understand their financial situation.

They also assess the client’s income, investment, and debts.

Lastly, they inquire about the client’s goal.

From that analysis, a CFP will present several solutions to enable the client to reach their goals. 

To become a certified financial planner, one must have a degree and also pass the CFP examination.

Registered Representative Salary

Registered representatives are also known as stockbrokers.

Advisors with this job title specialize in stocks and securities.

Stockbrokers usually work for brokerage firms, offering their services to either individual clients or companies under the brokerage firm.

Their work revolves around managing clients’ portfolios.

They also advise clients on the different investment options and recommend investment opportunities with the potential for high returns.

The average salary for registered representatives, according to, is $66,070 as of August 2021.

Overall, stockbrokers earn between $61,084 and 74,140 per year.

Since they also earn commission and bonuses, their income is lucrative.

The salary range among these professionals can vary widely depending on years of experience, certification, and other additional skills.

To become a stockbroker, one must have a bachelor’s degree in finance or business-related courses.

Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) requires registered representatives to pass series 63 and series 7 exams.

Series 7 exams are for beginners getting into the industry.

Series 63 exams cover state laws and regulations.

These exams are not a walk in the park.

An advisor must study and prepare adequately to pass.

Only a licensed personal financial advisor is legally allowed to advise clients and sell securities, such as mutual funds, stocks, and bonds.

Investment Advisor Salary

Investment advisors work with investment companies, financial planning firms, or financial institutions. They can also open their own practice.

Investment advisor financial services involve:

  • Talking to clients to understand their financial goals.
  • Advising them on the market trends
  • Helping them make informed investment choices.

Payscale breaks down the salary of investment advisors into several categories.

The average annual salary for investment advisors is $66,499.

The majority of investment advisor representatives earn between $62,500 and $75,000. 

Advisors at the entry-level with less than one year’s experience earn around $48,383.

This is a total compensation that includes bonuses and commissions. 

Investment advisors with between five to nine years’ experience earn an average income of $75,584.

Similarly, experienced advisors with 10-19 years get an average pay of $92,839. 

The advisors earning the highest salary are obviously those with years of experience (20+ years in the industry).

Their average income is $104,828.

Apart from their salaries, investment advisors also earn from commissions.

Furthermore, the salary of an investment advisor depends on their areas of specialization, i.e. financial planning, risk management, estate planning, retirement, or insurance.

Personal financial advisors working for firms must understand their investment strategies and financial products to better guide clients on the best options depending on their individual needs.

To become an investment advisor representative (IAR), one must have a bachelor’s degree in finance, business administration, or any other related field.

In addition, many investments advisors have additional certifications like Certified Financial Planner or Chartered Financial analyst.

Besides, an IAR is required to pass series 66 or series 65 exams.

It’s also common to find investment advisors with a master’s degree in a business-related course.

Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Salary

Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) is a top-rated certification in the finance industry.

Financial professionals interested in taking their careers to the next level take CFA certification.

Payscale estimates that the salary of CFA is between $64,234 and $255,000. Salary Expert indicates that the average income for CFA is $98,427. 

Financial advisors’ starting salary in this profession is $69,391.

Senior CFAs with over eight years of experience earn up to $122,660 or more.

There are several designations for advisors with this qualification.

A CFA can be a portfolio manager, a relationship manager, a chief investment officer, a risk manager, a financial analyst, or a consultant.

Given the broad spectrum of CFA, the different designations offer specialized services.

CFA consultants help clients make informed investments decisions.

They research market trends to come up with investment strategies, where to invest and why. 

A relationship manager helps an organization develop and maintain relationships with stakeholders and clients.

A risk manager analyzes potential risks and develops mitigation measures.

To get started as a CFA, one must have a bachelor’s degree in economics, statistics, accounting, finance, or any other related courses.

Experience as a financial advisor is mandatory.

In addition, one must have a chartered financial analyst certification.

Financial Advisors Popular Employers

Advisors work with brokerage firms, banks, insurance companies, and wealth management firms.

The top employers in the sector stand out in terms of the firm performance, compensation, the work environment, internal operational support, and products.

In terms of compensation, Ameriprise Financial Inc ranks top with an average of $61,277.

Other firms like Merill Lynch & Co. Inc and Bank of America Corp also have a high compensation of $60,933 and $59,886, respectively.

Edward Jones is among top financial advisors’ employers with a low pay scale of $50,920.

However, Edward Jones is on top of the rest when it comes to administrating and compliance support, internal operational support, and work environment.

How Financial Advisors Make Their Practice More Profitable

Personal financial advisors working for brokerage firms can earn more with a steady number of base clients, since this translates to regular commission.

Hence, it goes without saying that developing one’s interpersonal and communication skills is mandatory.

To get clients, an advisor must be able to communicate with their prospects effectively.

Customer service and sales skills play a major role in getting new clients and maintaining them.

Also, staying abreast with the stock market and any changes in the market gives a stockbroker an edge.

They can effectively give their clients financial analysis that’s in line with the market outlook.

Social media platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook are great for reaching out to high net worth prospects.

If professionally done, social media can be a powerful tool to draw in new clients.

Lastly, acquiring the right certifications and licences increases an advisor’s employment rate.

It equally sets them apart when it comes to reaching out to new clients.



U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics









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