How do financial advisors get paid?

How Do Financial Advisors Get Paid?

When selecting a financial advisor, it’s essential to understand their compensation method. Advisors may receive compensation in various forms, including flat fees, hourly rates, or commissions on investments and insurance products.

Fee-based advisors should be avoided as this compensation model could induce them to oversell their services and lead to conflicts of interest; as a result, this type of arrangement should be avoided at all costs.


Many financial advisors are moving toward a fee-only compensation model. This strategy eliminates potential conflicts of interest while giving clients more choices and options. Fee-only advisors typically charge an hourly rate, retainer fee, or percentage of assets managed; however, this approach may be more expensive than alternative approaches and limit services provided.

Commission-based financial planners may earn commissions from investments, insurance policies, and other products or services they sell, as well as bonuses for selling certain in-house products. While this type of advisor may charge higher fees than others, they’re unlikely to have any conflicts of interest that might affect their recommendations.

Other financial advisors charge either an hourly or flat fee based on the complexity of your financial situation, making this arrangement ideal for people needing ongoing advice and planning or investors wanting to start out by creating a financial plan before investing in products recommended by their advisors.


Financial advisors working on commission typically earn compensation in the form of fees and commissions for their services, with predetermined fees covering the creation of financial plans and smaller fees related to purchases or trades executed for clients. They may also earn commissions from selling financial products like mutual funds, annuities, and insurance policies; any 12b-1 fees attached to those products and surrender charges on some annuities could provide extra earnings for them.

Commission-based advisors may be motivated by commission-paying investments to recommend products that pay higher commissions but may not always be in their client’s best interests.

Fee-based advisors typically charge either a flat fee or a percentage of assets managed. Fees usually range between 1% of AUM and much higher; all payments must be disclosed in their disclosure document.

Hourly or project-based

When selecting a financial advisor, you must understand their income-earning method. Most professionals offer both fees and commissions, so be sure to inquire about their charges to identify potential conflicts of interest that could influence their advice – commission-based advisors may be incentivized to sell products that pay more even though they might not fit your needs exactly.

Advisors who charge hourly or project-based fees are compensated based on the time they work or their percentage of assets managed, typically saving clients money over time. While this fee structure may work well for advisors managing multiple clients’ investments at once, smaller accounts may not benefit as much from this model – it’s best to discuss this option with your advisor to see whether it meets your needs before making your decision. Many advisors are switching to fee-only arrangements for more transparency and to reduce potential conflicts of interest.

Fee-based with incentives

Business development is an integral component of being a financial advisor; however, it can sometimes create conflicts of interest. An advisor who earns commissions may be incentivized to sell products that do not represent clients’ best interests or use tactics such as “churning,” which involves frequently buying and selling investments within client accounts in order to increase his/her sales.

Establishing the appropriate compensation model between you and your clients is paramount for their happiness and yours. Care should be taken when selecting an arrangement, considering goals, objectives, experience, skills, and any special requests of clients. Finally, select the model which meets your individual needs while helping to further your career – this could mean anything from a percentage of assets, hourly rate, or project-based fee, depending on what best meets them – however, be mindful that whatever approach is chosen can have long-term ramifications on investment results as well as the overall satisfaction of clients receiving services provided by you!