How Much Money Do Financial Advisors Make?

By: Kaplan Financial Education
January 30, 2020
Financial advisor salary calculated by woman

What kind of salary can you earn as a financial advisor? PayScale lists the salary range for financial advisors as $36,000–100,000 per year; however, the earning potential over time is even greater than that. Why the big range? It all comes down to what kind of financial advisor you are. Here are some examples.

Stockbroker Salary (Registered Representative Salary)

Stockbrokers, which FINRA calls registered representatives, are financial advisors who work at brokerages, managing the financial portfolios of individuals or corporate clients. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary in 2018 for a stockbroker was $64,120 per year. However, because stockbroker pay is commission-based (after a certain sales threshold), they have the opportunity to earn much more than that. According to the Street, the median pay for the top 10 percent of all stockbrokers in the U.S. is $208,000.

If you’re interested in becoming a stockbroker or registered representative, you’ll need to earn securities licenses from FINRA. These include the Series 7 and Series 63 licenses.

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Investment Advisor Salary

Working for a financial investment firm, financial planning firms, or themselves, investment advisors determine the best investments for a client’s portfolio. According to Payscale, the average annual salary of an investment advisor is $70,797. However, like that of stockbrokers, investment advisor pay can include commissions and profit-sharing, increasing the annual salary. For example, in Chicago, the salary plus commissions and other add-ons can average $234,700, according to a 2018 CFA Society Chicago report.

If becoming an investment advisor appeals to you, you’ll need a Series 65 license, which enables you to work with clients as an Investment Advisor Representative.

Financial Planner Salary

“Financial planner” is a broad term for a type of financial advisor who helps individuals and corporations meet their long-term financial objectives. They generally charge their clients a percentage of the assets they manage. They may also charge an hourly fee or get fees for stock and online insurance policies purchased. Those who help individuals with planning are referred to as “personal financial advisors.” Many of these financial planners are certified CFP® professionals.

According to ZipRecruiter, the median pay for a professional with the CFP® certification is $85,449 annually, topping out at $149,500. The U.S. BLS states that the median pay for a professional under the larger umbrella of personal financial advisors is $88,890 annually, and Payscale adds that, at the high end of the scale, the salary is $122,000.

Wealth Manager Salary

A wealth manager is a type of financial advisor who consults with high-net-worth clients to achieve their goals related to wealth accumulation, protection, and distribution. High-net-worth clients generally refer to those worth $1 million or above, although some firms only serve clients worth at least $5–10 million. estimates that the average salary range for wealth managers is $63,975–93,420 annually. However, wealth managers have the potential to earn much more, especially as they gain experience or if they work for major broker-dealers. According to a number of articles, wealth managers in that category can bring home $2 million annually.

Designations offered in wealth management are many and varied. Examples include Wealth Management SpecialistSM, Accredited Portfolio Management AdvisorSM, the CFP® certification, and the CFA® charter. If wealth managers are providing investment advice or selling securities, they will also need (at minimum) Series 65, Series 6, and Series 7 licenses.

Interested in Making Money as a Financial Advisor?

If you put in the time and hard work to earn your securities licenses or CFP® certification, you increase your odds of earning a top salary as a financial advisor. Securities prelicensing exam preparation packages and CFP® education help increase your odds of earning the licenses and certification that can get you started on the path to financial success.

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After identifying nine series exams with common content (6, 7, 22, 57, 79, 82, 86/87, 99), FINRA decided to restructure their licensing process. The common content is now tested in the new Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam. Download this free guide to learn more about how the new securities licensing process works, the rationale for the change, SIE tested exam content, and how it could change hiring and recruiting practices.