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How to Find a Financial Advisor You Can Trust



How to Find a Financial Advisor You Can Trust

More and more people are using financial advisors to help them navigate the complex journey to financial freedom.

But although more Americans are seeking advice on matters of personal finance, they are also less sure that the advice they are getting is trustworthy.

Unfortunately, a growing amount of Americans see advisors as serving their companies’ best interests rather than their own best interests. According to a survey by The National Association of Retirement Plan Participants (NARPP), 60% of Americans now feel this way compared to just 25% of respondents in 2010.

Who Can Be Trusted?

Today’s infographic is from Tony Robbins, and it covers key points from his #1 Best Selling book Unshakeable: Your Financial Freedom Playbook, which is now available on paperback.

The book dissects the investment advisor landscape to show the value of a relationship with an advisor, the legal distinctions between different advisor types, and how advisors are incentivized.

Ultimately, it helps give you the ammo you need to find an investment advisor that will provide you with better service than the rest.

The Value of the Right Advisor

The right financial advisor can help you make better decisions, address your cognitive biases, and use their expertise to save you massive amounts of money.

A recent Vanguard study helps quantify the value a good advisor can bring:

  • Lowering expense ratios: 0.45%
  • Rebalancing portfolio: 0.35%
  • Asset allocation: 0.75%
  • Withdrawing the right investments in retirement: 0.70%
  • Behavioral coaching: 1.50%

Total: 3.75% of added value!

That’s more than 3x what a sophisticated advisor might charge, and doesn’t include the benefits of reducing taxes or other areas.

Advisors vs. Brokers

There are roughly 310,000 people in the U.S. who call themselves financial advisors – but they actually fall under two different legal frameworks.

About 90% of this group are brokers, while 10% are registered investment advisors. Confusingly, there is also a significant portion who are dual-registered as both brokers and registered advisors, as well.

What’s the difference?

The two have different legal obligations, as well as differing ways of receiving compensation from clients:

Investment Advisor (RIA)

  • RIAs are registered with the SEC and with the state they are working in
  • Like doctors or lawyers, investment advisors have a fiduciary duty and legal obligation to their clients
  • In other words, they must serve your best interest at all times
  • They also must disclose any conflicts of interest
  • They don’t accept commission from third-parties for their products

How they get paid: They charge a % based on assets managed, or a flat fee for financial advice


  • Brokers are usually employed by banks, brokerage houses, or insurance companies
  • The products they recommend have to pass a suitability standard, based on your personal circumstances
  • However, they do not have to necessarily recommend the best product for you

How they get paid: They get commissions for selling certain products to you. They may also charge based on assets under management, as well.

Picking the Right Advisor

Remember, the right advisor can add 3.75% of added value to a portfolio, and that’s before taxes and other areas! With the stakes so high, how can Americans pick the right advisor for them?

Here are the 7 questions Tony Robbins would ask a potential advisor to work with:

1. Are you a Registered Investment Advisor?
If the answer is yes, he or she is required by law to be a fiduciary.

2. Are you (or your firm) affiliated with a Broker-Dealer?
If yes, he or she can act as a broker and receive commissions for guiding you into specific investments.

3. Does your firm offer proprietary mutual funds or separately managed accounts?
These products will likely compensate them with additional revenues, at your expense.

4. Do you or your firm receive any third-party compensation for recommending particular investments?
This is the ultimate question you want answered. You want products to be recommended because they are right for you, not because they give the best kickbacks.

5. What’s your philosophy when it comes to investing?
This will help you understand whether your advisor believes he/she can beat the market.

6. What financial planning services do you offer beyond investment strategy and portfolio management?
Financial planning is much bigger than just investing – it also involves planning for your child’s education, handling vested stock options, estate planning, and tax advice. You want someone that can help you in all stages of your life.

7. Where will my money be held?
Having your money held by a trusted third-party custodian will mean your money is in a secure environment.

Like most financial endeavors, picking an advisor is an area lined with potential pitfalls.

But choosing the right investment advisor can be a difference maker – it can even possibly even set you up with many years of extra retirement savings.

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Personal Finance

Mapped: What You Need to Earn to Own a Home in 50 American Cities

What does it take to own a home in the U.S. in 2023? Here’s a look at the salary needed for home ownership in the top 50 metro areas.



A cropped map of the U.S. with the median home price as well as the salary needed to own a home 50 American cities.

What You Need to Earn to Own a Home in 50 American Cities

Once a fundamental part of the American dream, the ability to own a home is drifting farther and farther away for many Americans.

Between skyrocketing prices, stagnating wages, and now rising interest rates, the deck seems to be increasingly stacked against home ownership.

Using May 2023 data tabulated by Home Sweet Home, we map out the annual salary needed to afford a 30-year mortgage (at 6.37%) to buy a home in America’s 50 most populous metropolitan areas.

The monthly minimum mortgage payment includes taxes and insurance as well, and is capped at roughly one-third of the income. This analysis also assumes that the homeowner will put down a 20% down payment.

The Least and Most Affordable American Cities to Own a Home

At the top of the list, and at the very west of the country, San Jose is the least affordable city to own a home for the average American.

One would have to earn at least $374,000 a year to afford a $1.6 million dollar home in the city.

To put those numbers into perspective, the median American annual income is $75,000, about one-fifth what’s required to buy a home in San Jose.

Here’s a look at the annual earnings needed to afford a home in all 50 largest cities in the U.S., ranked from least to most affordable.

RankMetro AreaStateMedian Home PriceAnnual Salary
1San JoseCalifornia$1,618,400$373,696
2San FranciscoCalifornia$1,192,600$282,167
3San DiegoCalifornia$880,000$209,110
4Los AngelesCalifornia$746,800$181,106
7New York CityNew York$577,300$160,233
9Washington, D.C.N/A$557,200$139,911
15Salt Lake CityUtah$522,700$122,717
16ProvidenceRhode Island$417,000$112,281
20RaleighNorth Carolina$420,000$102,572
21Las VegasNevada$431,400$101,310
25CharlotteNorth Carolina$387,200$93,735
34San AntonioTexas$320,500$88,683
36Virginia BeachVirginia$313,200$79,336
37Kansas CityMissouri$291,000$76,147
40New OrleansLouisiana$265,200$68,946
44BuffaloNew York$206,800$63,386
45St LouisMissouri$231,100$63,260
48Oklahoma CityOklahoma$227,300$62,161

Other Californian cities, San Francisco (ranked 2nd), San Diego (3rd), and Los Angeles (4th) all require an annual income of at least $180,000 to attempt home ownership within their metropolitan boundaries.

Boston (ranked 6th) and New York (ranked 7th) represent unaffordability on the East Coast, both requiring at least $160,000 a year to buy homes there.

It’s not just the coasts that are expensive however. To buy a home in Denver (ranked 8th) and Salt Lake City (15th) means earning more than $120,000 a year.

However, cities in the Midwest and South, like Pittsburgh, Detroit, Oklahoma City, and Louisville, are far more affordable, requiring less than $63,000 a year to buy a home.

Interest Rates Rock Home Ownership Chances

Aside from the obvious price differences in housing markets, a key factor that has elevated income requirements across the board is the rapid rise in interest rates in the last year. In fact the average 30-year mortgage has pushed past 7%, the highest it’s been since the 2000s.

This means that while the median price of a house in San Jose has actually come down between 2022 and 2023, the minimum monthly payment has increased from $7,717 to $8,720 this year.

RankMetro AreaStateMedian Home PriceMonthly Payment
1San JoseCalifornia$1,618,400$8,720
2San FranciscoCalifornia$1,192,600$6,584
3San DiegoCalifornia$880,000$4,879
4Los AngelesCalifornia$746,800$4,226
7New York CityNew York$577,300$3,739
9Washington, D.C.N/A$557,200$3,265
15Salt Lake CityUtah$522,700$2,863
16ProvidenceRhode Island$417,000$2,620
20RaleighNorth Carolina$420,000$2,393
21Las VegasNevada$431,400$2,364
25CharlotteNorth Carolina$387,200$2,187
34San AntonioTexas$320,500$2,069
36Virginia BeachVirginia$313,200$1,851
37Kansas CityMissouri$291,000$1,777
40New OrleansLouisiana$265,200$1,609
44BuffaloNew York$206,800$1,479
45St LouisMissouri$231,100$1,476
48Oklahoma CityOklahoma$227,300$1,450

So to afford a median-priced home in the country, an American needs to earn closer to $100,000 a year, up from $75,500 in 2022. And even then, they would be priced out of owning a home in nearly half of the 50 largest cities in the country.

As a result Americans may yet further delay home ownership. Renting is now a far more attractive option, thanks to the biggest difference between rent and mortgages in over 50 years.

Where Does This Data Come From?

Source: Home Sweet Home (HSH).

Note: HSH used different sources for their median home prices, mortgage rate, property taxes and home insurance figures for their analysis. Please visit their website for more information.

Other: If other personal debts exceed 8% of one’s given monthly gross income, this may increase the salary needed to qualify for a mortgage.

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