How Much Money Do Financial Advisors Make?

Many financial advisors can have a lucrative career offering advice to clients about making sound, fiscal decisions. These positions are often found in firms that manage financial assets of individual and corporate clients. Alternate titles for financial advisors may include stock broker, account executive or financial consultant.

Typically, a person begins a financial advisor career at the entry-level as a trainee. This provides an opportunity to learn the basics of the financial services industry. A career path often leads to the associate or senior executive level where salaries are substantially higher.

Specific duties and responsibilities may vary, depending on the size of the financial services firm and services offered. Generally, financial advisors counsel clients on making investments based on the client’s financial needs and goals. In order to offer sound financial advice, financial advisors must stay abreast of the ever-moving target of national and international markets.

Financial advisors must also monitor clients’ investment portfolios and know when to recommend new strategies and different vehicles for investments. The successful financial advisor also exhibits skills in sales, communications and making the right decisions under extreme pressure.

Education, Certification and Specialization

Before financial advisors can begin earning a rewarding salary in the financial services industry, he or she must complete certain educational credentials. Most entry-level financial advisor positions require at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting, economics or finance. Some companies may accept a candidate with a business degree who demonstrates strong analytical and quantitative skills.

Candidates with an MBA might have an advantage over other job applicants. However, education does not guarantee salary potential; rather, performance is a better indicator of how much a financial advisor can earn.

Many states require certification in financial services. This type of certification provides proof that a financial advisor has achieved the right competencies needed to make financial recommendations and manage other people’s money. It is possible to get hired in a trainee position and earn certification credentials while employed.

A specialization is another area that can determine the salaries of financial advisors. A number of financial advisors might specialize in corporate and individual clients. Others might specialize in advising large corporations, often known as institutional clients in the financial sector.

Each educational credential provides a pathway for financial advisors to enter the workforce. In addition, candidates may enter the financial services field through other channels. Networking with other financial advisors or connecting with financial associations is one way to enter the field. Another option is connecting with financial recruiters.

Earnings Potential

Actual salary for a financial advisor may depend on the financial services firm and the type of client accounts managed. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary was just above $68,000 annually. Usually, salaries for financial advisors are based on commission percentages. One calculation is based on the total revenue the financial services firm generates. A second calculation is typically based on the total asset value of the financial advisor’s clients.

The information below provides an overview of the average, associate and trainee salary of financial advisors, where applicable. These figures represent other cash incentives such as profit sharing and bonuses at some of the nation’s largest financial services firm.

Edward Jones

Trainee financial advisors with Edward Jones can earn up to $12 per hour. The average salary for associates is a monthly salary of $3,156. Many can eventually earn up to $90,000 per year.

Overall, most financial advisors average $55,226 annually. This amount includes bonuses that average just under $7,600 and profit sharing over $3,600. Total compensation for financial advisors at this firm could top $250,000 each year.

Merrill Lynch

Starting salaries for Merrill Lynch trainees varies by branch, but averages $51,323 annually. Many financial advisors can earn up to $100,000 or more each year.


Financial advisors at ING earn a base salary between $38,000 and $41,000. Senior level portfolio managers have a salary range between $96,000 and $154,000. The average annual salary is nearly $124,705.

Morgan Stanley

Financial advisor trainees employed by Morgan Stanley also earn more than Edward Jones trainees with an average annual salary of $38,391. Most will earn up to $60,000 in total compensation.

Associate financial advisors have an average salary of $47,000. Sandwich in between trainees and associates are junior advisors who typically earn $41,900 with up to $70,000 in total compensation.

Waddell and Reed

Salaries for financial advisors at Waddell and Reed are generally lower than some of the other firms. Total compensation is up to $60,000, which includes bonuses and sales commissions.

At some locations, financial advisors can earn over $100,000 in total compensation.

Wells Fargo

Trainee financial advisors with Wells Fargo average $48,375 annually; top compensation is up to $60,000 for trainees. Financial advisors may progress to earning a salary of at least $52,000 each year. Total compensation could top $118,000 annually. Senior financial advisors can expect to earn more, with an average salary of $64,677 that does not include bonuses and other compensation.

Bank of America

Financial advisor trainees at Bank of America earn $54,250 annually and do not receive commissions and bonuses. Financial advisors can earn a $53,000 annual salary, plus up to $75,000 in total compensation.

JPMorgan Chase

Associate salaries average $36,000, with $115,000 in total compensation. Financial advisors can earn up to $165,000 annually.

First Command

First Command financial advisors can earn up to $53,000 in total compensation, which includes stocks and bonuses.

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