Advice on Financial Planner Investment advisor; Equitable?

Until now we have been managing our savings/investments ourselves by mostly buying index funds and CD's and leaving it, but realized that we need some help to diversify and do a better job investing, especially as our savings grew significantly this year due to recent windfall.  Our income is enough to live on and we don't want to increase our daily expenses/budget, , so we now have an amount we want to invest and set aside so it can grow and be there for us when kids go to college, retirement or if kids need financial help later in life.   We already max out contributing to retirement accounts and have kids college accounts set up, and are set on life/disability insurance.  So we don't need the full spectrum of financial planning services, just want help investing and managing those investments both in retirement and taxable accounts.  Any advice as to financial planners, wealth managers, investment advisors (not sure what the correct name is) who is very good when it comes to investments and building a portfolio?  We both come from low to middle class families, so our families never needed investment services and don't have anyone to recommend, and we don't want to ask our friends as we are keeping quiet our recent financial good fortune. So far we spoke to financial planners in Chase, Bank of America, and Equitable, and the rates seem to vary between 1-1.5% depends on what we do.  We really liked the planners from Equitable but are having a hard time finding other people who used them and can recommend them.  I'd love to hear feedback on Equitable as financial planners, or other recommendations.  Thanks!

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If you are interested in investing in no-load mutual funds (only), I highly recommend FundX Investment Group. I have relied for years on their monthly newsletter, and they also do individual advising.

I use Prosperity Financial Group in San Ramon. Elliot Kallen is the owner and meets us quarterly or so in person to discuss our portfolio and make any changes that seem reasonable. Fees are reasonable and we have done well by him. His email is elliot [at]  Good luck and tell him Terri sent you!

I can highly recommend Stefan Sikorski at Equitable.  He used to be with AXA Advisors, but they got bought up by Equitable some time back.  I've been working with him since 2010, and he's always been very responsive and very understanding of what risk level I could tolerate as I got closer and closer to retirement.  He can put together an interesting package of stocks, bonds, etc., but, as a designated reporter at the state agency where I work, the hassle of filling out the annual FPPC [Fair Political Practices Commission] disclosure forms -- which had to include every single transaction -- was just not worth it to me, so we switched to mainly market index funds, and I've been very satisfied with the returns.  Stefan is British and bit hyper, and can talk a mile a minute, so he might not be everyone's cup of tea, but he always leaves me smiling.  Also, he used to be in the Bay Area but now operates out Texas [Austin or Houston, I think], so if you're wanting personal visits rather than Zoom chats, he might not be the best fit. 
Stefan.Sikorski [at]
If you decide to talk to him, feel free to say that Norm Vance recommended him.  At the very least, I'm sure he could recommend a local advisor who would be available for personal meetings.  Good luck.  It sounds as though you are proceeding very carefully and very prudently. 

I would recommend a few-based advisor, rather than one of the services you mention. A fee-based advisor can help you strategize, but isn’t going to keep skimming off the top. You can check in every 5 years or so (or more frequently) for a fee, but again avoiding the annual service fees, which can become hefty as your accounts grow. 

There are very good reasons to get a financial planner, when you need the full spectrum of financial planning services. But for pure investment advice there isn't a lot of value added compared to a robo-advisor, or some good investing rules-of-thumb, or a target-date fund. A lot of advisors create portfolios for their clients using rules-of-thumb, and they end up looking like robo-advised accounts anyway. Except you pay more for it. Remember that 1-1.5% of assets under management could be more like 10-25% of your annual investment returns (assuming returns of 6-10% per year) and you need to pay the advisor even if you lose money in your accounts (which happens in a bad market year).

If I were in your position, I would look at moving the windfall and any non-employer accounts to one financial services company like Vanguard, Schwab, or Fidelity. I currently have accounts with Vanguard and Schwab, and used to have an employer account with Fidelity and have liked them all; they are all well-regarded companies. All three have robo-advisor options, and I would avail myself of them.

FWIW, it doesn't sound like you have been doing at all badly. Index funds are inherently diversified across a large number of stocks. It sounds like you could use help figuring out a bond allocation and choosing an appropriate bond fund or funds. I don't think it is a high a hurdle as you seem to think.

We've been working with Ellevest, and are happy with them. One of the nice things they do is provide options for alternative investments that all have a social justice angle (green energy, loan funds focused on woment/POC, sustainable workforce housing, etc.) If you care about using your money toward social good, just make sure that the planners you talk to have that as a focus. Some do, but the big banks, not so much. 

Hi, We've had a good experience with North Berkeley Wealth Management. They are a local firm and have done well for us. Our person is Matt.

I highly recommend TIAA. We have been with them for years after fleeing more costly alternatives. They can help structure your investments in accord with a risk assessment conducted by a professional. We have found their approach to be very client friendly. One word of caution. Whoever you go with, be aware of capital gains. Most firms want to sell portions of your portfolio and add investments from their own lists. If you have successful investments now, this can create a capital gains tax challenge during your first year as a client.

Most investment managers are paid via a percentage of the assets you have with them. It's not ideal, but it's common and works well for many people. 1% to 1.5% is typical, though 1% is closer to the average. And a good investment manager should do more than just pick investments for you.

You might also pay for services by the hour or via a flat fee, but this arrangement is less common. You might look at fee-only advisors at Most do planning (which you said you don't need) but some likely do just investment advice for a flat or hourly fee. 

Merrill, Chase, Equitable, etc. are more likely to have irreconcilable conflicts of interest, to sell you on something that makes them more money, and in Equitable's case maybe try push you to more expensive annuity and insurance-based products. The incentives are inherent to the system.