The 5 Best Seattle Financial Advisors (2021 Update)

Today I’m highlighting some of the best Seattle financial advisors.

My goal?

To help retirement savers find a qualified professional who has the right expertise to help.

If you’re on the hunt for a financial advisor in the Seattle area and not sure where to begin, this comprehensive guide is for you.

First, grab these free resources:

  1. Fiduciary Oath for Your Financial Advisor to Sign [PDF]
  2. Questions to Ask a Financial Advisor [PDF]

Why I Created This “Top Seattle Financial Advisors” Guide

There are over a million retirement savers in the Seattle, Tacoma, South Puget, and Bellevue areas who need a financial advisor.

As much as I’d like to help all of them, it’s not practical in reality.

I also recognize that my expertise and approach may not be the best fit for everyone.

For example, my firm specializes in retirement and tax planning for people over age 50. Other firms might focus on a different demographic, such as working professionals or business owners.

You’ve worked hard to build your nest egg, so it’s essential that you find the best financial advisor who has the expertise you need.

After all, you wouldn’t see a Podiatrist if you needed heart surgery.

My firm might be a good fit to help you gear up for retirement. If not, I’ve listed some other Seattle financial advisors to consider below.

Disclaimer: This list is not intended to be exhaustive. This is just my opinion and not a testimonial or endorsement of these advisors.

Here They Are…The 5 Best Financial Advisors to Consider in Seattle, WA and Surrounding Areas for 2021

Hiring a financial advisor is a big decision that requires thorough research. While asking questions is an important part of the research process, most people don’t know where to start.

For that reason, my firm designed a step-by-step process to help potential clients evaluate our services and make an informed decision about working together.

There is no cost or obligation for this process. We want you to know exactly how we can help you before you pay us a single dollar in fees.

👉 Click here to learn more about our “Sleep on It” Process

Learning our process will also give you a framework to evaluate other Seattle financial advisors. Here are five local firms to consider along with a short bio from their website.

Brad Berger, Cornerstone Financial Strategies, Ameriprise Financial – Tacoma, WA

“Since founded by John Tappan in 1894, we at Ameriprise Financial have stayed true to our mission: To help people feel confident about their financial future. Brad Berger is a West Point graduate with almost 30 years of experience. He has broad experience in estate planning, retirement, insurance, executive compensation, wealth preservation, and tax planning strategies. He also holds a Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy (CAP) designation as well.”

Dan Altmayer, AAMS – Federal Way, WA

“As an Edward Jones financial advisor, I believe it’s important to invest my time to understand what you’re working toward before you invest your money. It’s also important to understand the level of risk you’re comfortable accepting when investing so we can balance it with the steps necessary to reach your long-term goals. Whether you’re planning for retirement, saving for college for children or grandchildren, or just trying to protect the financial future of the ones you care for the most, we can work together to develop specific strategies to help you achieve your goals.”

The Petricic & Phillips Financial Group – Bellevue, WA

“We take great pride in an effort to help our clients protect their families, fund college, and retire. We’ll See You Through represents our commitment to financial planning as our vocation. We will be your guide to light the way throughout the journey. Our long-term commitment to see you through is why our business continues to grow and why our clients refer family and friends.”

Sound Financial Group – Mill Creek, WA

“We begin by sharing our financial philosophy and explain how it can enable you to make more sound financial decisions. Our commitment is to leave you with a valuable new way of thinking about your own financial strategy, regardless of whether or not you engage our firm. Once we settle on your preferred strategies, we establish the systems and structures necessary to consistently bring your vision closer to reality. We have now entered into a powerful ongoing conversation about wealth and your future.”

Dean Bennion, Kimball Creek Partners – Tacoma, WA

“From the moment he first saw the “organized chaos” of the trading pits, Dean has been an avid student of markets and how they work. Now Dean has over 30 years of experience as a financial advisor. He works with successful professionals, business owners, executives, retirees, and their families to provide investment advice and personalized portfolio management services. He enjoys learning about people and helping them pursue their most important goals.”

How Jarvis Financial is Different from Other Financial Planners in Seattle

There are three things that separate Jarvis Financial from other firms you might be considering:

  1. We intentionally limit the number of people we serve. This allows each client gets the personalized attention they need.
  2. We are a fiduciary 100% of the time. This structure ensures that your best interests are always put first. Click here to view our signed Fiduciary Oath.
  3. We are retirement and tax planning experts. Our firm only works with people who are retired or very close to it, especially those who want to lower their tax bill.

In addition to the above, our firm has an experienced team of professionals to help put our clients achieve retirement success.

I’m a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) Professional and also hold the ChFC designation. Despite being a numbers geek, I’m passionate about translating complicated financial and tax strategies into plain English.

Alex M. Lynch is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®) , Accredited Wealth Management Advisor (AWMA®), and graduate of the University of Washington. As a trusted advisor, Alex seeks to simplify your financial puzzle and support you in taking a step back and evaluating the whole picture. And as your life continues to unfold, working alongside you to provide advice as life continually changes.

Nathanial Jarvis is also a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) Professional and is responsible for all of the behind the scenes number crunching, which means every report you receive from our office started on his desk. He also handles most aspects of maintaining our client investment portfolio and provides backup for clients when Matthew is unavailable.

Colleen Martin oversees client service experiences. She masterfully provides support with all client requests, from cashiering, operations support, planning educational events and seminars, and more. Colleen is instrumental in helping refine our service processes to ensure we can provide seamless and efficient support to clients. She acts as each client’s dedicated service champion.

If you want to learn more about our team and experience, click here.

Who Does Jarvis Financial Work With?

Because we limit the number of clients we serve, it’s important that we only work with people who have a situation that matches our expertise.

We do our best work with people who are retired or close to it (typically five years or less). This allows us to tailor our service and expertise to the unique needs of retirees.

Our strategies also work best for people who have been diligent savers. Although many of our clients would not consider themselves “rich”, they have made wise decisions that have allowed them to accumulate a retirement nest egg of at least $500,000.

This might sound cliché, but we also choose to only work with genuinely nice people. It’s important that we share a mutual respect in order to have a successful working relationship.

Lastly, our typical client wants a trusted advisor. They know their retirement success is too important to be managing it themselves, and they see the value of working with a professional.

How to Find a Financial Advisor You Can Trust in 2021

Finding a trusted financial planner requires a combination of research, due diligence, and gut instincts.

You may feel more comfortable working with a small, highly specialized firm that provides personalized service. Or, you may prefer large publicly traded companies that have shareholders and a recognizable name.

There are no absolute rights or wrongs when it comes to deciding which financial planner is right for you. But there are some universal things to consider before reaching a decision.

There are also several professional licenses and designations you should look for. At a minimum, you will want to confirm your financial advisor has a Series 63 and 65 or a Series 66. These licenses allow them to legally charge a fee for financial advice.

Financial advisors who get paid a commission for selling financial products also hold a Series 7. Just remember, hiring a commission-based financial advisor comes with extra conflicts of interest.

For example, they might be incentivized to sell you a product (e.g. front-loaded mutual fund, annuity, hedge fund, etc.) to meet a sales quota, not because it’s in your best interest.

At Jarvis Financial, we don’t hold a Series 7 license. We are a Fiduciary 100% of the time and only offer a transparent fee schedule to help mitigate conflicts of interest.

To further establish credibility, a financial advisor may choose to get additional certifications that indicate a higher level of commitment to the profession.

These can include:

  • CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional (CFP®)
  • Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC)
  • Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA®)

Some certifications are more difficult to attain than others, and some help to support specific specializations. As part of your due diligence, be sure to ask how each of these are important to your situation.

You’ll also want to know how many years of experience your advisor has and if there have been any regulatory actions taken against them. You can check with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) by using the SEC’s Investment Advisor Search tool, or by requesting the information from any SEC branch.

Lastly, there are “soft” skills to keep an eye out for as well. These include great communication skills, a positive attitude, and a strong work ethic. It might not be easy to identify these during the first meeting, which is why it’s important to take your time evaluating financial advisors.

If you are being rushed into making a decision, it’s likely a sign you’re in the wrong place.

The Difference Between Fiduciary Financial Advisors and Brokers

Financial advisors have different approaches when it comes to how they work with clients. It’s important to understand what those differences are so you can make an informed decision when choosing who to hire.

The most important difference is that some financial advisors operate as a fiduciary and others don’t.

By definition, a fiduciary means “he or she is required by law to put your interests ahead of their own.”

Sounds reasonable, right?

Unfortunately, most financial advisors in the United States don’t operate as a fiduciary.

They are brokers or salespeople working for large companies who have an obligation to create profits for their shareholders. They might be well-intentioned advisors, but their legal requirements are different.

Here’s how.

Fiduciaries are legally bound to act in a client’s best interests at all times, regardless of what they may personally gain or lose. This concept is not limited to financial advisors. You’ll also see it mentioned in dealings with attorneys, accountants and other white-collar professionals.

Financial planners who adhere to the Fiduciary Standard are bound to act in your best interest and charge a transparent fee for their services. It might be a percentage of the investments being managed, an annual fee, project-based fee, or even an hourly fee.

Regardless, the client knows exactly what they are paying and exactly what they are getting in return.

On the other hand, financial advisors (a.k.a. brokers) who work for large brokerage firms you know by name are held to a “suitability standard.” They are not a fiduciary and are only required to take your risk tolerance and goals into consideration when making recommendations. The cost and quality of the products don’t necessarily need to be factored in.

In addition, financial advisors and brokers who operate under the suitability standard often receive commissions for selling financial products. Sometimes, these products are proprietary to their firm and not necessarily the best solution available on the market.

How can you tell if a financial advisor is a fiduciary?

One easy way is to ask them for a signed Fiduciary Oath or a Statement of Fiduciary Commitment. Click here to Review Jarvis Financial’s Fiduciary Oath.

This oath codifies the exact nature of our fiduciary relationship and holds us to the highest standard in the industry.

The decision to work with a Seattle financial advisor who is a fiduciary or not is up to you. What is most important is that you have all the information you need to make the right decision for you and your family.

Questions to Ask a Financial Advisor Before You Hire Them

Here are some key questions to ask as you begin your search for a Seattle financial planner.

How do you get paid?

It’s critical to understand whether your advisor is paid through commissions they earn from selling products or a transparent fee paid directly by the client.

By asking this question, you can be more aware of advice and products you’re offered and some of the motivations behind those recommendations.

What are my all-in costs?

There may be additional, hidden fees when working with a financial advisor. These hidden fees can impact your investment return and retirement success.

For example, just about every investment fund a financial advisor recommends has an expense ratio. The expense ratio can be as little as 0% and as high as 3%.

The higher the expense ratio, the lower your investment returns are likely to be. For that reason, it’s important to understand what this cost is – as well as any other hidden costs – before hiring an advisor.

How will our relationship work?

You want a financial advisor who is smart and experienced, but also one who communicates in a way that fits your needs.

Some clients prefer phone calls on a regular basis and frequent meetings, while others are ok with email-based communication and one or two formal meetings per year.

If you’re a busy professional, you may not want frequent communication. You may be willing to sacrifice a certain degree of high-touch service once you have found someone you trust so you can stay focused on your career.

On the other hand, you may view your advisor as a close and trusted partner and need more hand holding as you tackle your financial goals.

The answer to this question can make or break a successful working relationship, so don’t hesitate to spend extra time getting to the answer you need.

Are you a Fiduciary 100 percent of the time?

While all financial planners are in business to help you achieve your financial goals, fiduciaries are held to a higher standard.

Stockbrokers, insurance agents, and other non-fiduciaries only need to offer you financial products and services that are deemed “suitable”. These solutions may not always be in your best interests and may include unnecessary costs.

With a fiduciary, potential conflicts of interest are mitigated. And, when conflicts do exist, they are required by law to be disclosed by the advisor.

You should also note that some financial planners have the ability to take their fiduciary hat on and off. Be sure to ask if they are a fiduciary 100% of the time and to sign a Fiduciary Oath.

What’s your investment philosophy?

Some advisors take a highly customized approach to investing, tailoring your investment needs to your unqiue financial goals.

Others will help you find one-off solutions as needed without taking the entire picture into consideration.

Keep in mind, financial success can be measured in many ways. For instance, earning the highest rate of return isn’t always the most important metric. Based on your situation, it might be more important to preserve wealth or generate reliable income.

You’ll need to find an advisor who has an approach that matches your needs. It’s also important to find someone who can clearly articulate their philosophy and how it can help you with your unique situation.

What investment benchmarks do you use?

Benchmarks are used to measure the performance of investments. There are literally hundreds of possible benchmarks to choose from.

The S&P 500 index is widely used because it contains 500 of the largest U.S. publicly traded companies. Some of the other more common indexes include:

  • Russell 2000 for U.S. small-cap stocks
  • Wilshire 5000 for an extensive large scale look at the U.S. market
  • Bloomberg Barclays Aggregate for bonds

It’s important to understand what benchmarks are used and why, but don’t get too caught up in playing the comparison game because it’s not always “apples to apples.”

For example, the indexes listed above only include U.S. stocks. It’s possible your portfolio also includes international stocks and real estate.

Final Thoughts for Finding the Best Financial Advisor Near You

In order to find the right financial advisor near you, you’ve got to do your part first.

You may already have a good idea about your short and long-term goals, but getting more specific will help make your search easier.

Are you gearing up for retirement in the next few years? Or, are you a working professional making six-figures and starting a family? Those are two very different people who need two very different financial advisors.

Also, consider the other pieces of your financial life and how they might play into your unique situation. Things like estate planning, charitable giving, long-term care, tax planning, and more.

Lastly, be sure to check out the SEC website to make sure the advisor you are considering doesn’t have any customer complaints or disputes. This is a quick way to weed out some of the financial advisors in the Seattle, Tacoma, South Puget, and Bellevue areas.

You are making a big life decision when you hire a financial advisor. Take your time, do your homework, and don’t be rushed into making one of the most important decisions of your life.