Best Financial Planners for Veterans

Best Financial Planners for Veterans

With the help of financial advisors, you can plan your financial future. Think about retiring in 20 years or sending your child to a private university. You may need to work with a financial advisor who has the required licensing to help you to reach your goals.

A financial advisor will be able to explain many topics, such as how much money to invest, what types of accounts to open, what kinds of insurance to buy (long-term care, term life, disability, etc.), as well as estate and tax planning, and much more.

In this article, we’ll discuss the best financial planners for veterans to make the process of choosing one a bit easier for you.

How a Financial Advisor Can Help Veterans

Many veterans are being targeted by predatory lenders and dishonest salespeople who put them into bad investments, pile on unnecessary debt, and ruin their credit and financial security. After leaving the military, you should do some financial planning, either on your own or with the help of a professional advisor, to protect yourself and get the most out of veteran benefits.

A personalized approach to financial planning is necessary for each situation. Veterans require specific planning strategies due to their VA benefits, unique insurance needs, and debt management and retirement income strategies.

Financial advisors can help veterans with some of these benefits:

  • Veteran’s educational benefits
  • Veterans’ health insurance benefits
  • Benefits of a Veteran’s Loan
  • Benefits of retirement
  • Benefits of the Post-9/11 GI Bill

Here are some reputable and well-known financial institutions that can help veterans manage their finances.

  1. BlackRock
  2. Fidelity Investments
  3. Vanguard
  4. State Street Global Advisors
  5. AAFMAA Wealth Management & Trust

What Makes a Good Financial Advisor?

A good financial advisor will provide fiduciary advice in a range of areas that are relevant to your needs. They will ensure that you receive specialized investment management, wealth management, and insurance advice.

The Fiduciary Standard

To start your search for a financial planner, you need to understand one important term—fiduciary. Those who are fiduciaries are legally required to serve your best interests whenever individualized financial advice is provided. They cannot recommend financial products that aren’t beneficial to you just because they receive a kickback.

Fee-Only

Among financial planners, fee-only advisers are considered to be the gold standard. The fee may be a flat fee, an hourly fee, or a percentage of your assets. Their cost is not based on commission, and they are almost always bound to act in your best interest over their own.

Commission-Based

There are several commission-based advisers, including brokers and insurance agents. Their commission is based on the sale of financial products. When commission-based advisers are used, there is an enormous conflict of interest. Because they do not have to act as fiduciaries, they are not required to put your interests first.

Although a financial planner may get a commission for selling a product, that doesn’t necessarily make it a bad investment. You should always complete your due diligence to understand what you’re investing in.

Fee-Based

Fee-only advisers are not to be confused with fee-based advisers, who usually have licensed brokers and provide full financial advice. You might find fee-based financial advisors that offer fee-only planning. Still, they also might sell you products from which they earn commissions.

Robo-Advisor vs. Financial Advisor: Which Is Better?

The difference between robo-advisors and financial advisors isn’t as complicated as it may seem. Here’s how to tell them apart and their associated costs.

Robo-Advisor vs. Financial Advisor

Robo-advisors help investors build and manage their investments by using computer algorithms. They require little interaction with humans—computer models allow you to set parameters, such as your time horizon and how much investment risk you accept. Their low cost makes them an excellent option for someone who only needs or wants investment management rather than comprehensive financial planning.

Personal financial advisors or financial consultants are professionals who can help you manage your financial life on a regular or temporary basis—from investing to estate planning. To develop and discuss your financial plan, you will meet your advisor online or virtually.

Costs of Financial Advisors vs. Robo Advisors

Most robo advisors charge between 0.25% and 0.50% of the amount managed per year, though most services are at the lower end of that spectrum to stay competitive. In fact, many companies accept new clients for no fee.

Personal financial advisors, on the other hand, typically charge a percentage of assets, usually about 1% a year. Still, it can vary significantly depending on the size of the account. Some traditional advisors require that new clients have a fund balance of at least $250,000.

Additionally, some financial advisors charge a flat fee or an hourly rate and require a lower or no minimum investment to begin. Before you hire a financial advisor, you need to make sure the fee structure and qualification of the advisor is clear.

Best Financial Planners for Veterans

Veterans have access to a wide range of financial advisory services. Generally, the market is dominated by large institutions, which makes sense. A firm that is well-known is more likely to be able to secure assets from families and businesses.

The companies listed above have earned their position as the best in the industry, continuously providing positive returns for investors.

Listed below are a few of the Best Veterans’ Financial Planners.

AAFMAA Wealth Management & Trust: Veterans Financial Service

The transition to civilian life after a few years of military service or aging from a long career in the military can pose many challenges, including managing your finances. There are many financial responsibilities veterans, retirees, and military spouses have to address, such as loan and debt repayment, saving for retirement, pensions, and disability benefits.

Perks

Veteran and retired military clients can get financial services from AAFMAA Wealth Management & Trust, including planning for educational needs, estate planning, cash flow analysis, and more.

The AAFMAA helps Veterans establish financial goals, build the “roadmap” to achieve them, and monitor the veterans’ financial performance to ensure that they are on the right track to succeed.

It is estimated that a comprehensive financial plan will cost $3,500. AAFMAA provides financial planning services on a “fee-only” basis. Financial plan recommendations are not obligated or expected to be implemented through AAFMAA or any of its affiliates.

Vanguard

Vanguard has been a revelation in the investment management world, especially since the turn of the century. Vanguard is the second-largest advisory firm by AUM, with more than $7.5 trillion as of 2021. Vanguard has responded to customers’ needs by lowering prices and allowing investors to keep a more significant share of their returns.

Perks

As part of Vanguard Personal Advisor Services, the client or veteran is provided with a personalized financial plan guided by human advisors and low management fees for online planning services, and a lower service minimum.

Betterment: Personal Finance for Veterans

Investing with Betterment is the best way to take advantage of robo-advisors. They’re considered one of the most reliable investment advisors for veterans.

Perks

In addition to its legacy offering, Betterment Digital charges 0.25% of assets under management and does not require an account minimum. For a fee of 0.4% and a minimum account balance of $100,000, Betterment Premium offers unlimited contact with certified financial planners.

It’s free to sign up for Betterment, one of the few robo-advisors on the market. However, the Betterment Digital offering is not included in that.

Best Overall Financial Planner

Veterans and military families live a rewarding yet challenging lifestyle. A family’s financial situation is the last thing that military families need to worry about amid deployments, relocations, and family separations.

To put safeguards in place, members have to make significant financial decisions that can significantly affect their future careers at a young age. Financial planning relates to education, home purchases, retirement and more as your military family grows.

For veterans and retirees to create a comprehensive financial plan, they need to provide information regarding their family, income and expenses, assets and investments, tax returns, retirement schedules or projections, along with any existing insurance or estate planning documents.

Considering all these factors, AAFMAA is the best overall financial planner for veterans because it offers different options and features to assist them in reaching their financial goals.

The following points are reasons why AAFMAA is veterans’ best financial advisor:

  • Provide a financial “road map” for the financial goals of Veterans.
  • Access to a free financial dashboard.
  • Includes surviving spouses and children of service members and veterans.

Best for DIY Investing

DIY investments, self-directed investments, or self-managed investments involve building and managing an investor’s investment portfolio without the assistance of a professional such as a broker, investment adviser, banker, or financial planner.

Here are some essential tips for DIY investors 

  • The internet makes DIY investing more accessible than ever, but not always an easy decision.
  • If you want an honest comparison, figure out what your time is worth and then take that into account in your earnings (or losses).
  • Investment advisors are experts and can be expected to make more prudent and emotionless decisions with your portfolio.

Best Robo-Advisor for Veterans

Setting up an online account for a robo-advisor is easy. Among other benefits, robo-advisors are also more cost-effective than traditional in-person advice due to its online and automated nature.

The following Robo-advisors are the best for veterans and those in the service:

Betterment

Betterment sets a high standard for service as one of the top players in the industry. The company provides automatic rebalancing, tax-loss harvesting, a personalized retirement plan, and the option to buy fractional shares in funds, so you don’t have to wait until you have enough money to purchase a total stake. Improved access to human advisors is part of Betterment’s premium plan.

  • Cost of Management: 0.25% to 0.45% depending on the level of service
  • Account Minimum: $0

Ellevest

Although Ellevest focuses on women specifically, it includes everyone’s needs in its financial planning. Ellevest makes it easy to invest based on your goals, even if you have more than one.

It costs $1 to $9 per month with Ellevest, unlike many other Robo-advisors. You can invest, learn, and access some banking features (like ATM reimbursement, for instance). Plan meeting fees for financial planners and executive coaches are reduced on the higher tiers.

  • Cost of management: $1 to $9 per month, depending on the level of service offered
  • Account minimum: $0

Charles Schwab

The Charles Schwab Intelligent Portfolios program is intended to break through the robo-advisor market. Providing no-cost features like rebalancing, automatic tax-loss harvesting, and 24/7 access to customer service in the U.S., Schwab’s investor-friendly practices extend to robots as well. It’s worth saving up for the higher minimum account balance since Schwab charges no management fees.

  • Cost of Management: none
  • Account minimum: $5,000

Best Human Advisor

Our research led us to these two best human, financial advisors. 

Fisher Investments

Investment advisor Fisher Investments, based in California, manages $188 billion on behalf of families, businesses, and institutions worldwide as an independent investment advisor and one of the most trusted companies in the USA.

Fisher Investments assists individuals and families in assessing their unique circumstances, planning for the long run, and investing in a way that meets their objectives. Fisher Investments puts its clients’ needs first, from financial planning to annuity assessment.

Fidelity Investments

Since the beginning, Fidelity Investments has offered broker and mutual fund services. The term ‘Fidelity,’ which means loyalty, support, and faithfulness, appropriately describes what the company provides in customer service and online support. The fund has an asset base of $2.96 trillion and offers a wide array of mutual funds for all types of investors.

Best In-Person Financial Planner

Edward Jones Investments is the best option if you are looking for an in-person personal financial advisor.

As an expert in investment and insurance services, Edward Jones has over 18,000 financial advisors in the US offering personalized solutions to support your retirement, education savings, and insurance needs.

Perks

Thousands of advisors make up Edward Jones. For individuals looking for an advisor with a personal touch, Jones Advisors can be the right choice for various reasons. On the other hand, when using a robo-advisor, investors have the advantage of lower fees and tested investment strategies that allow them more net dollars.

Best Financial Planners for Veterans Comparison

Here is a side-by-side comparison of the best financial planners for veterans.

Vanguard

As one of the most prominent players in the hybrid robo-advisor and online planning space, Vanguard Personal Advisor Service continues that tradition by charging just 0.30% of assets under management.

The fiduciary and certified financial planners and financial advisors at Vanguard complement the online planning tools. Investors can get assistance in creating a financial plan and managing their portfolios through these advisors. Tax-loss harvesting is not offered by Vanguard, though there are other tax strategies to consider.

 Pros of Vanguard

  • The minimum account balance for an online planning service is lower, and the management fee is lower.
  • Managed comprehensively.
  • Advisors to help you manage your finances.
  • Selection of solid investments.

 Cons of Vanguard

  • It is not possible to harvest tax losses.
  • External assets must be transferred to Vanguard.
  • The website isn’t user-friendly compared to competitors.

Overview

Vanguard Personal Advisor Services offers a broad range of personalized financial services, including guidance from human advisors. However, tax losses cannot be harvested.

  • Account minimum: $50,000
  • Onboarding or setup fees: None
  • Fees for account management & planning:
    • 0.30% for balances below $5 million.
    • 0.20% on accounts from $5m to $10m.
    • 0.10 % on accounts $10 million to $25 million.
    • The rate is 0.05% over $25 million

Betterment

Betterment leads the robo-advisory industry. In addition to Betterment Digital, Betterment offers Betterment Private. This new service has no account minimum and charges 0.25% of assets under management.

It charges 0.4% of your account balance and requires a $100,000 credit to access Betterment Premium.

Pros of Betterment

  • The portfolio can be customized, and there are multiple options.
  • A minimum account balance is not required, and the fees are low.
  • You can invest in fractional shares.
  • Tools based on robust goals.

Cons of Betterment

  • Direct indexing is not available.
  • In order to access expert management and assistance, fees and balances are higher.

Overview

Investing with Betterment allows you to receive customized financial advice from a variety of services.

  • Account minimum: $50,000
  • Onboarding or setup fees: None
  • Betterment benefits:
    • Investors in retirement.
    • Balances below the minimum.
    • Some desire auto-balancing.
    • Those who are interested in goal-based tools.

AAFMAA Wealth Management & Trust

The American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association (AAFMAA) is a federally chartered, not-for-profit, privately owned firm that provides numerous financial services to military members, such as life insurance, investments and trusts, mortgages, and survivor care.

Pros of AAFMAA

  • AAFMAA Military Member Benefits Team provides expert advice on military benefits and entitlements to Veterans.
  • Compared to other competitors, AAFMAA charges a low fee of $3,500 for a comprehensive financial plan.
  • It covers financial services and plans for surviving spouses as well.
  • AFMAA’s financial program provides education funding, retirement planning, and comprehensive insurance analysis as well.

Cons of AAFMAA

  • For active traders, AFMAA is not the right platform.
  • It is not possible to harvest tax losses.

Overview

The American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association (AAFMAA) was founded in 1879 and has been providing advice, insurance, investments, mortgages, survivor assistance, and more to military families and veterans ever since.

Personal Capital

With Personal Capital, you can access robo-advisor algorithms and human, financial advisors for a more personal experience. Investors with a minimum investment of $100,000 can access two dedicated financial advisors. Those with a balance of $100,000 to $200,000 may access a team of advisors. Personal Capital charges an account management fee of 0.89%, though higher balance accounts receive a discount of 0.49%.

Pros of Personal Capital

  • Security options are available individually.
  • Investing tools that are free and comprehensive.
  • Advisors who specialize in financial matters.
  • Optimization of taxes using advanced techniques.

Cons of Personal Capital

  • Minimum account balance of $100,000.
  • Management fees are high.

Overview

The fees at Personal Capital are on the higher end, but the tools are readily available for free. Financial advisors are open to all clients as well. Clients with at least $200,000 invested receive two dedicated advisors.

Personal Capital offers a host of financial and investment planning tools (some of which are free), the ability to link existing accounts and track spending, net worth, portfolio performance, retirement progress, and the ability to see fees. Tax-optimized withdrawal strategies can be used as part of the retirement paycheck feature.

  • Account minimum: $100,000
  • Management Fees: From 0.89 to 0.49 percent on accounts over $1 million

Charles Schwab

Investment professionals can choose from two options when using Charles Schwab Intelligent Portfolios, Charles Schwab’s online advisor service. Investing in Intelligent Portfolios, the base service offered by the company requires a $ 5,000 minimum investment, and the service does not charge advisory fees.

Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Premium, an online financial planning service, offers the use of a certified financial planner for a monthly cost of $30. Still, the client must hold a minimum of $25,000 in the account. Additionally, a one-time fee of $300 is charged for the premium offering.

Pros of Charles Schwab

  • There is no management fee.
  • ETFs are available in a wide range.
  • Rebalancing automatically.
  • Portfolios that can be customized.

Cons Pros of Charles Schwab

  • Account minimums are high.
  • The amount of cash allocated is large.
  • Harvesting tax losses is only available on balances over $50,000.

Overview

Intelligent Portfolios’ approach is unique because no management fees are charged. Still, the portfolios tend to spend more of their cash allocation than that of other robo-advisors.

  • Account minimum: Schwab Intelligent Portfolios requires a $5,000 minimum, and Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Premium requires a $25,000 minimum.
  • Fees for onboarding: Schwab Intelligent Portfolios is free, but Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Premium charges $30 per month.

TD Ameritrade

As a full-service brokerage firm, TD Ameritrade offers a broad range of brokerage services. Founded in 1975, its predecessor, First Omaha Securities, Inc., is a long-standing fixture in the investment world. Aside from providing well-balanced online and mobile trading platforms, TD Ameritrade also offers a robo-advisor service, which interests new and experienced investors alike.

Pros of TD Ameritrade

  • No-fee online trading for stocks, ETFs, and options.
  • Newbies and seasoned traders alike can trade online and on mobile.
  • Robo-advisors are now available.
  • Customer support that customers value.

Cons of TD Ameritrade

  • Many disclosures on its record.

Overview

To serve both beginners and experts, TD Ameritrade tries to cater to both. The web and mobile versions of its trading platform offer dual versions suited either to educate or guide the client, depending on their needs.

With over $31 billion in assets, TD Ameritrade services all fifty states, the District of Columbia, Virginia, and Puerto Rico. Omaha is the firm’s headquarters—it has 364 branch offices nationwide, including one in every state but North Dakota and Wyoming.

Fisher Investments

Fisher Investments is a registered investment advisor who is a professional that can advise clients about investments that are suitable for them, including U.S. residents who wish to invest.

Investors, institutions, and large accounts will find over a thousand investment advisors fee-only advice and investment management from Fisher Investments.

Pros of Fisher Investments

  • For the past seven years, Fisher Investments has been ranked as a top investment advisor by the Financial Times.
  • Fisher Investments will design a portfolio tailored to your requirements and financial situation if you sign up with them.

Cons of Fisher Investments

  • The prices for Fisher Investments’ services are relatively competitive and straightforward, but the benefits are billed at a flat rate.
  • Clients with portfolios worth up to $500,000 will pay a 1.5% fee.

Overview

Fischer Investments, incorporated in 1987, is licensed and regulated by 53 states and has 1,493 advisers on 84,394 accounts (1:57 advisor to client ratio).

  • Account Investment : $500,000

Ellevest

Ellevest offers a robo-advisory product designed specifically for women—leveraging the characteristics of varying incomes and life expectancy curves to create portfolios.

Pros of Ellevest

  • A minimum account balance is not required.
  • A goal-oriented approach to investing.
  • Creating portfolios that factor in womens’ needs.
  • Coaches and CFPs can be booked as needed.

Cons of Ellevest

  • Only Executive and Plus members have access to the IRA.
  • It is not possible to harvest tax losses.

Overview

In addition to the personalized investment portfolios, Ellevest members can invest in Impact Portfolios to make a positive social impact and advance the representation of women on boards and in leadership. There is a discounted price for coaching and access to a certified financial planner based on the membership level you choose.

Account minimum: $0

Account management fee: Varies by membership type

  • $1/month for Essential
  • $5/month for Plus
  • $9/month for Executive

Fidelity Investments

For high-net-worth clients, Fidelity offers commission-free online trades in stocks, mutual funds, and exchange-traded funds without any minimum balance requirement and with the assistance of a professionally appointed investment advisor.

Pros of Fidelity

  • Account fees or minimums are not required.
  • Commission-free stocks, ETFs, options trading, and fractional shares are available.
  • Research and trading tools are available for use through a variety of platforms.

Cons of Fidelity

  • In comparison to some of its competitors, Fidelity Personalized Planning & Advice charges a higher fee.
  • Trades assisted by representatives cost slightly more than other brokerages.
  • There are no cryptocurrencies.

Overview

Since its beginning, Fidelity Investments has garnered a solid reputation among brokerages and mutual fund providers. In addition to managing over 38 million investors, they also provide access to professional financial advisors.

Account Minimum: $0

Account Management Fee: 0% (robo-advisor: 0.35%)

Edward Jones

In Missouri, Edward Jones is a financial services firm based in St. Louis that offers financial advisory services. A network of more than 15,000 branch locations in the U.S. and Canada and 19,000 financial advisors serve clients’ investment needs in both countries.

Pros of Edward Jones

  • Even if you do most of your investing online, Edward Jones has more local branches than any other broker.
  • A 90-year-old investment brokerage provides you with the benefit of its investment experience.
  • You can free up your time since your money is professionally managed so that you can stay focused on your career, business, family, and interests. While you’re busy with other things, Edward Jones can handle all of your investment needs.
  • If an account balance exceeds $10 million, a 0.5% management fee is charged. At that point, the fee is comparable to robo-advisors, but the services are more focused and customized.

Cons of Edward Jones

  • Fees are over 1% per year unless you have a portfolio of $2.5 million. Holding index funds in a brokerage account or using a robo-advisor can cost less.
  • The Edward Jones platform is not the best one if you wish to actively trade securities actively. Investing in active trading can be difficult if fees are high. The strategy focuses primarily on buying and holding.
  • Penny stocks, junk bonds, options, and commodities are all types of investments that an investment advisor does not recommend. This platform does not provide an environment where one can trade such assets due to high commissions.

Overview

Edward Jones is a full-service broker offering investment management more than brokerage services for self-directed accounts. It’s best for investors who have more than $10 million in investments, though.

Edward Jones’ starting fee of 1.35% is not much at first glance, but bear in mind that that doesn’t include additional mutual fund fees, which can add up to 2% or more.

Account Minimum: To open or maintain an account, there is no minimum deposit. Guided Solutions Fund Accounts require a minimum of $5,000.

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