A growing number of financial planners make money only when you pay them a fee for their counsel. These independent financial planners don’t get a cut from life insurers or fund companies. You might pay them a flat fee, such as $1,500, for a financial plan. Or you could pay an annual fee, often 1% of all the assets—investment, retirement, college-savings and other accounts—they’re minding for you. Others charge by the hour, like lawyers.
Financial planners explicitly providing financial advice and managing money for clients are considered fiduciaries. This means they are legally obligated to act in the client’s best interests and they can’t personally benefit from the management of client assets. They are expected to manage these assets for the client’s benefit rather than their own. Fiduciary specifics can vary. For example, registered investment advisers (RIA) are fiduciaries under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. They are regulated by the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) or state securities regulators.