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Which Is Right For You?

Getting a handle on your money is often a team effort. It’s important to get advice from experts when it comes to deciding where to invest your money, how to grow and preserve your wealth and even how to manage taxes as effectively as possible.

That’s where professionals like wealth managers and financial advisors come in. People often use these terms interchangeably to describe professionals who work with a client’s money and provide financial advice, but there are key differences between the two. Here’s what you need to know.

What we’ll cover

What is a wealth manager?

A wealth manager is a financial professional who advises almost exclusively individuals with a high net worth — this is perhaps the biggest difference between a wealth manager and a financial advisor.

Wealth managers can create financial plans that encompass estate planning, investment strategies, property, retirement, divorce and more.

Some wealth managers require you to have a minimum amount of assets before taking you on as a client. For instance, Charles Schwab offers a wealth advisory service with a $1 million minimum.

Fidelity has a wealth management service with an eligibility requirement of at least $250,000 managed through Fidelity Wealth Services. But if you require a personal wealth management team of financial experts, you’ll need to have at least $2 million managed by Fidelity Wealth Services and at least $10 million in total investable assets.

So as you can see, the minimum requirements are quite high, especially if you require a team working on your behalf as opposed to just one individual.

Most financial institutions also offer wealth management services in addition to their other financial offerings, so you should check if your current institution has these services (and if you qualify).

Wealth managers usually collect their fees as a percentage of the assets they manage.

What is a financial advisor?

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Should you work with a wealth manager or a financial advisor?


  • Minimum deposit and balance

    Minimum deposit and balance requirements may vary depending on the investment vehicle selected. For example, Betterment doesn’t require clients to maintain a minimum investment account balance, but there is a ACH deposit minimum of $10. Premium Investing requires a $100,000 minimum balance.

  • Fees

    Fees may vary depending on the investment vehicle selected, account balances, etc. Click here for details.

  • Investment vehicles

  • Investment options

    Stocks, bonds, ETFs and cash

  • Educational resources

    Betterment offers retirement and other education materials

Terms apply. Does not apply to crypto asset portfolios.


  • Minimum deposit and balance

    Minimum deposit and balance requirements may vary depending on the investment vehicle selected. $500 minimum deposit for investment accounts

  • Fees

    Fees may vary depending on the investment vehicle selected. Zero account, transfer, trading or commission fees (fund ratios may apply). Wealthfront annual management advisory fee is 0.25% of your account balance

  • Bonus

  • Investment vehicles

  • Investment options

    Stocks, bonds, ETFs and cash. Additional asset classes to your portfolio include real estate, natural resources and dividend stocks

  • Educational resources

    Offers free financial planning for college planning, retirement and homebuying

Bottom line

Wealth managers and financial advisors may sometimes seem like they can be used interchangeably but wealth managers tend to work with richer clients. Even if you don’t have enough assets to work with a wealth manager or financial advisor, you can still seek other types of services that can help you reach your goals, such as a robo-advisor.

Why trust CNBC Select?

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.

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