The CNBC FA 100 ranking recognizes advisory firms that help clients navigate big financial decisions

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Whether it’s navigating a stock market downturn, hawkish Federal Reserve policy or banking instability, we’re dedicated to helping consumers make smart money decisions.

But CNBC’s personal finance team also recognizes the value of professional advice and a comprehensive financial plan, regardless of life stage or level of wealth.

Our mission is the primary driver behind the CNBC FA 100 list, now in its fifth year, which ranks the nation’s top financial advisor firms.

The FA 100 list uses proprietary methodology created by CNBC in partnership with data provider AccuPoint Solutions. The process begins with SEC filings for 40,646 registered investment advisory firms before narrowing down the list. You can see the full methodology here.

These top-ranked advisors average 30 years in the business and collectively manage more than $300 billion — but experience and assets under management aren’t the list’s primary criteria.

The CNBC FA 100 highlights firms that help clients navigate decisions beyond their investment portfolio. In crafting the list, we weighed each firm’s services and specialties, among other factors. We also considered the firms’ number of certified financial planners, which is widely recognized as one of the industry’s top professional designations.

The benefits of working with a financial advisor

The majority of Americans say their finances need improvement and many believe working with an advisor boosts their confidence for long-term financial stability, retirement and other priorities, according to Northwestern Mutual’s 2023 planning and progress study.  

While there’s a growing interest in financial advice via generative artificial intelligence, most investors don’t trust what’s provided without verifying the information, the Certified Financial Planner Board’s latest consumer sentiment survey found.  

Many investors think they can do it themselves when the market is continually rising, says Kevin Keller, CEO of the CFP Board. However, “it’s that volatility where I think the value of a CFP professional or a professional advisor really makes a difference,” he added.

It’s that volatility where I think the value of a CFP professional or a professional advisor really makes a difference.
Kevin Keller
CEO of the Certified Financial Planner Board

After more than a year of bleak forecasts for the U.S. economy, some experts have backed off recession predictions and pointed to the soft landing targeted by the Federal Reserve. But there’s a risk of becoming complacent about future market volatility.

And uncertainty can trigger the desire for personal changes. Nearly 60% of consumers planned to adjust 2023 financial goals due to the economic environment, according to a Goldman Sachs survey conducted in October 2022.   

Whether you’re motivated by the current economy or need guidance for major life decisions, there’s a wide range of financial advice available, regardless of your income or investable assets. Of course, the cost and scope of services varies by advisor or firm, so diligence is critical throughout the selection process.

10 questions to ask your next financial advisor

Picking a financial advisor may take time, and you may interview several candidates before finding someone who meets your financial needs. The CFP Board suggests asking prospective advisors these 10 questions:

  1. What are your qualifications and credentials?
  2. What services do you offer?
  3. Will you have a fiduciary duty to me?
  4. What is your approach to financial planning?
  5. What types of clients do you typically work with?
  6. Will you be the only advisor working with me?
  7. How will I pay for your services?
  8. How much do you typically charge?
  9. Do others stand to gain from the financial advice you give me?
  10. Have you ever been publicly disciplined for any unlawful or unethical actions in your career?

You can also check an advisor’s record by searching for their name on BrokerCheck and with the SEC, and verify CFP certification.

Tune in to CNBC’s “The Exchange at 1 p.m. ET today to see Mason King of Luther King Capital Management, which earned the top spot on the CNBC FA 100 list for the first time this year.

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