How Fee-Only Financial Advisors Get Paid And Why It Matters

Fee-only financial advisors are paid directly by their clients; they don’t receive any type of kickbacks or commissions for recommending certain insurance products or financial products.

When you decide to work with a financial advisor, you probably have a lot of questions. As you will quickly discover, there are many different classifications of advisors, and they each can have distinct certifications.

But one of the most important factors to ask your advisor is whether or not they are fee-only.

Why does that matter?

Let’s take a deeper look into what a fee-only advisor is, and why you should consider hiring a fee-only advisor.

Fee-Only: What it Means

The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) believes fee-only financial advisors are the most transparent and unbiased advisors you can come by.

They typically have one of two titles: Registered Investment Advisor or a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional. If your advisor has one of these titles, you can rest assured they’re fiduciaries and only have your best interest at heart.

How Are Fee-Only Advisors Paid?

There are a few different ways fee-only advisors get paid. Some popular methods include:

  • Hourly: You pay a fixed amount based on the number of hours your advisor spends meeting with you.
  • Flat fee: Similar to the hourly method, but you pay one flat fee no matter how many hours you spend meeting with your advisor.
  • Percentage of assets under management (AUM): You pay a percentage-based fee depending on the value of your investments, typically around 1%.

At Sentinel Financial Planning, we employ all three methods. But more on that later.

What Are the Benefits of a Fee-Only Advisor?

If you’re in the market for a financial advisor, here are three reasons why you should choose a fee-only advisor:

1. No Conflicts of Interest
No matter how pure an advisor’s intentions are, it can be hard to provide unbiased recommendations when they know they’ll get a kickback or commission. But this isn’t the case for fee-only advisors. They have no incentive to push certain products because they don’t sell any products at all. They’re solely compensated by you.

2. They’re Fiduciaries
Fee-only advisors are fiduciaries, which means they’re legally and ethically required to act in your best interest at all times. They’re loyal, quick to disclose any conflicts of interest, and only give advice based on your unique situation and goals.

3. You Get Objective Advice
It’s easy to act on emotion when you’re dealing with your own money. There’s talk of a stock market crash, so you want to change your investing strategy. A family member needs to borrow money, even though you know giving it to them would jeopardize your financial security. You want to live a comfortable life in retirement, but you’re not sure if you’re on track.

In situations like these, it’s nice to have someone you can go to for objective advice.

Our Fee Schedule

At Sentinel Financial Planning, we believe in transparency. And whether you have a $500,000 account or $100 a month to invest, we can help. Here is a snapshot of our fees:

  • A one-time comprehensive financial plan begins at $5,000 or an initial $500 fee and $250 a month for one year.
  • We charge a flat fee of 1% annually to manage investments. The fee is billed quarterly in arrears directly from your account.
  • We offer hourly engagements at $250 per hour, and a mutually agreed-to number of hours, with a two-hour minimum.

Ready to Get Started?

If you’re ready to start the conversation, reach out today to set up an appointment, call us at (443) 906-1565, or email

About Mark

Mark Humphries, CFP® is the owner and financial advisor at Sentinel Financial Planning, a boutique, veteran-owned and operated investment management and financial planning firm. Mark focuses on helping federal government employees, military members, and business owners manage their investments and plan for retirement. As a former military service member and federal employee with over 10 years in the financial industry, he is familiar with the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) and the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) and is uniquely qualified to serve his clientele.