Financial Planner Salary Guide

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Updated January 17, 2023 · 5 Min Read

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Financial planners and advisors can make good money, but earning power varies. Use this career guide to explore factors affecting their incomes.

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Financial planners and advisors have the potential to make a lot of money. Yet, popular career portals including Indeed and Glassdoor note wide ranges in their earnings.

Indeed has tracked experience-based earnings gaps of more than $40,000 per year. Meanwhile, the difference between the low and high ends of Glassdoor's financial advisor salary range is $140,000 per year.

Job performance plays a major role in financial planner salary variations, as financial planners often earn additional income through results-based commissions and bonuses.

Indeed cites average commissions of nearly $18,000 per year, while Glassdoor estimates additional non-salary compensation at more than $41,100 per year.

Making sense of these gaps and variations demands close, data-based analysis. This guide dives into the numbers to help financial planners optimize their income potential.

How Much Do Financial Planners Make?

Median Salary

A Payscale survey found the average financial planner's salary to be $65,540, though the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports a median salary of $94,170. Income varies depending on your education and experience.

Some industries pay more than others, and the cost of living differs between cities, affecting salary ranges.

Financial planners and advisors often see their salary grow throughout their career. As you gain work experience in your field, you build your knowledge and skills.

Some professional certifications also require three to four years of work experience. These voluntary credentials may increase salary potential.

Experience Salary
< 1 year $51,000
1-4 years $61,000
5-9 years $73,000
10-19 years $85,000

Source: Payscale

Salary by Education

Financial planners come from varied educational backgrounds. Many prepare for their careers by earning a bachelor's degree in accounting, business, finance, or a related area.

Some choose to add a specialized master's degree. Examples of such degrees include a master of taxation or a master of science in financial planning.

Financial advisors can opt for earning master of business administration (MBA) degrees. Business schools offer MBA concentrations in banking and financial services, finance, financial planning, and other relevant areas.

A respected credential such as the certified financial planner (CFP) or chartered financial analyst (CFA) designation can also boost career prospects.

The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards develops the professional standards for earning the CFP credential.

The following table summarizes the average financial planner salary.

Salary by Location

Location can impact a financial planner or advisor's salary. Common location-based influences include the cost of living and the dynamics of the local labor market. However, in financial planning, the area's overall level of economic development can also play a significant role.

Financial planners can add significantly to their earnings through bonuses, commissions, and profit-sharing arrangements. According to Payscale, these can range from a few thousand dollars per year to $100,000 or more.

Advisors and planners who work with high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) tend to earn more through these channels. The more resources a client has to invest, the greater their potential to generate high returns and large bonuses and commissions for advisors.

Areas with large metropolitan centers, successful businesses, and a strong presence of large corporations and financial institutions tend to attract more HNWIs.

The following tables summarize the top-paying states and cities for personal financial advisors, according to the BLS:

Top-Paying States for Personal Financial Advisors, 2021
State Number of Personal Financial Advisors Employed Average Annual Salary
New York 21,170 $158,040
District of Columbia 450 $156,670
Washington 5,020 $144,890
Massachusetts 8,510 $142,630
Montana 650 $140,700

Source: BLS

Top-Paying Metropolitan Areas for Personal Financial Advisors, 2021
Metropolitan Area Number of Personal Financial Advisors Employed Average Annual Salary
Barnstable Town, MA 100 $172,780
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA 7,980 $161,010
East Stroudsburg, PA 40 $158,790
New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA 21,290 $157,610
Bremerton-Silverdale, WA 80 $151,510

Source: BLS

Where Should I Work as a Financial Advisor?

The BLS projects that demand for financial planners and advisors will outpace the overall rate of labor market growth for all professions from 2021-31:

+15%
Personal Financial Advisors
Change in Projected Employment from 2021-2031

Source: BLS

The BLS cites the aging U.S. population as a key factor for the growth of the personal finance sector. As people age out of the labor market, they tend to need financial planning assistance. The BLS also notes the similar impact of rising life expectancies.

Self-directed retirement savings plans are rapidly replacing government-backed and employer-based pensions as a common standard. This development has also created increased demand for long-term professional financial planning.

Best Areas

BLS data indicates employment levels for personal financial advisors correlate strongly with population size. Many of the states with large amounts of financial planner jobs have large populations.

Similar trends extend to cities: The largest metro areas in the United States also employ the most financial planners.

Looking ahead, some states anticipate higher levels of employment growth for financial planners than others. According to Projections Central, 13 states have near-term projected growth rates higher than the BLS-projected 15% employment growth.

However, identifying the most promising areas to work as a financial planner requires looking at opportunity, income, and living costs. Check out your state's cost of living, as provided by Missouri's Economic Research and Information Center.

The following tables summarize current employment trends and near-term growth projections for personal financial advisors:

Top-Employing States for Personal Financial Advisors, 2021
State Number of Personal Financial Advisors Employed Average Annual Salary
California 32,990 $126,480
New York 21,170 $158,040
Florida 20,760 $104,870
Texas 19,150 $110,450
Illinois 14,360 $117,580

Source: BLS

States With the Greatest Projected Increase in Employment for Personal Financial Advisors, 2020-30
State Percent Projected Change, 2020-30 Average Annual Openings
Greatest Projected Percentage Increase
Utah 32% 500
Tennessee 27.6% 430
Arizona 26.5% 560
North Dakota 22% 50
Texas 20.9% 1,880
Most Projected Average Annual Openings
California 13.6% 3,790
Florida 18.1% 2,110
New York 5% 2,090
Texas 20.9% 1,880
North Carolina 19.9% 1,020

Source: Projections Central

Top-Employing Metropolitan Areas for Personal Financial Advisors, 2021
Metropolitan Area Number of Personal Financial Advisors Employed Average Annual Salary
New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA 21,290 $157,610
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA 13,840 $114,660
Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI 12,060 $120,580
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD 8,210 $134,970
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA 7,980 $161,010

Source: BLS

Best Industries

The investing and wealth management industry accounted for nearly 60% of the 330,300 financial planners working in the United States in 2021. The BLS also notes that nearly one-fifth of personal financial advisors were self-employed in 2021.

These two sectors combined to account for 78% of all personal financial advisor employment tracked by the BLS.

The following tables explore the top-paying and top-employing industries for personal financial advisors, as per the BLS:

Top-Paying Industries for Personal Financial Advisors, 2021
Industry Number of Personal Financial Advisors Employed Average Annual Salary
Securities, Commodity Contracts, and Other Financial Investments and Related Activities 191,620 $130,520
Monetary Authorities-Central Bank 40 $130,070
Computer Systems Design and Related Services 200 $128,440
Land Subdivision N/A $121,090
Employment Services 230 $120,910

Source: BLS

Top-Employing Industries for Personal Financial Advisors, 2021
Industry Number of Personal Financial Advisors Employed Average Annual Salary
Securities, Commodity Contracts, and Other Financial Investments and Related Activities 191,620 $130,520
Credit Intermediation and Related Activities 44,070 $93,950
Agencies, Brokerages, and Other Insurance-Related Activities 6,940 $85,370
Management of Companies and Enterprises 4,300 $97,060
Nondepository Credit Intermediation 2,810 $90,020

Source: BLS

Notably, the investing sector represented both the top-employing and best-paying industry for personal financial planners in 2021. As such, many emerging advisors choose to launch and build their careers in the investing-oriented financial services sector.

Questions About Financial Planner Income

What are the highest-paying financial planner jobs?

Payscale cites an average financial planner base salary of $101,000 per year at the 90th percentile. According to the BLS, financial planner salary averages are highest in the securities, commodities, and investing industry.

Where is the best state to work as a financial planner?

According to BLS data from 2021, the five states with the most personal financial advisor jobs were California, New York, Florida, Texas, and Illinois. The BLS cited New York, D.C., Washington state, Massachusetts, and Montana as the jurisdictions where personal financial advisors earned the most money, on average.

What is the best industry to work in as a financial planner?

BLS data from 2021 suggests that the securities, commodities, and investing industry is the best sector for personal financial advisors. This industry supported both the largest number of jobs and the highest financial planner salary averages tracked by the BLS.

Is financial planning a stressful job?

Financial planners have a lot of responsibility, as their advice and decisions can strongly impact clients' financial stability.


Reviewed by:

Portrait of R.J. Weiss

R.J. Weiss

R.J. Weiss is a certified financial planner and current CEO of the financial education company The Ways To Wealth. Weiss has worked with clients across a variety of fields, including insurance planning, investment planning, income tax planning, and retirement planning. The Ways To Wealth teaches the fundamentals of financial planning to hundreds of thousands of monthly readers.

R.J. Weiss is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education Integrity Network.

Page last reviewed Oct. 14, 2022

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