The Best Financial Advisors in San Diego 2019

(Updated on 5/1/19) Choosing a financial advisor to work with is a big decision. The right financial advisor can have a measurable impact on your total portfolio value. At the same time, a financial advisor serves as an important knowledge resource that can be used to guide your financial planning decisions to ensure you reach your long-term financial goals.

When selecting a financial planning and investment advisor, it can be very helpful to work with an advisor that understands the area you live in. For individuals living in San Diego, a local financial advisor can give the type of insight you need to achieve your goals in a vibrant and competitive economy. Yet choosing a financial advisor can be challenging. You want to work with someone that you trust, and someone that understands your unique financial situation. On top of this, you’ll also want to work with a financial advisor that places your interests first.

9 ESSENTIAL TIPS – To Successfully Hire A Financial Advisor

We know that finding the perfect financial advisor can be intimidating. You may have the following questions in mind, "How do I know if an advisor has my best interest at heart? Are there any hidden fees? Do they even know what they're doing with my money?" We have created this guide to simplify the process and to help you along your way. Download now to avoid the biggest mistakes people make.

2019 Best Financial Advisors in San Diego – Our Top List

We understand that we are not a perfect fit for everybody. With this in mind, we will give recommendations to other qualified advisors in the San Diego region. Note, to be considered in our Top List, all financial advisors must meet the following requirements:

  1. Currently working at a fiduciary independent advisory firm and NOT be affiliated with a broker-dealer firm (e.g. financial advisors that do not accept commissions)
  2. A clean regulatory record with no disclosures as indicated by the SEC
  3. Have an advanced degree (e.g. an MBA) from an accredited, well-respected university
  4. Have at least 10 years of experience working as a financial advisor
  5. A positive reputation within the financial services industry
Financial Firm
Relevant Information
Dowling and Yahnke
Dale YahnkeYears of experience: 27

Highest Degree: MBA from SDSU

Minimum Assets To Open Account: $1,000,000

Rowling and Associates
Sheryl RowlingYears of experience: 21

Highest Degree: MBA from SDSU

Minimum Assets To Open Account: $500,000

Peck Financial Advisors
Valerie PeckYears of experience: 10

Highest Degree: MBA from U of Colorado

Minimum Assets To Open Account: $600,000

Pure Financial Advisors
Michael PashYears of experience: 14

Highest Degree: MBA from Pepperdine

Minimum Assets To Open Account: $750,000

In this article, we’ll outline some helpful tips that can guide your search for the best financial advisor services in San Diego. Ultimately, the financial advisor you choose to work with will need to be right for your situation, help you manage your portfolio, and can help you develop a comprehensive financial planning outline. Of course, we believe that we are an excellent choice for those looking for these qualities. There is no “one-size-fits-all” answer to finding the best San Diego financial planner. Instead, the search for a financial planner is personal, and you may find that even popular financial advisory firms aren’t an ideal fit for your unique needs. The insights we’ll provide can be used to help narrow down your search, and clarify what you want in a financial advisor. This will save you time and help you find the right financial advisor for you. 

Narrow Down the Field

Your first step when searching for a financial advisor in San Diego is to narrow down the field of potential advisors. There are a dizzying number of options available when you begin searching for a financial advisor. Weeding through all of the financial advisors you find will quickly lead to fatigue, and may lead to you making a poor choice. By narrowing the scope of your search for different services you can quickly sort through potential advisors, further narrowing down your search with greater efficiency and speed. You’ll end up with a viable list of potential financial professionals that you can meet with, rather than wasting your time wading through all of your potential options.

The best way to narrow down the field of potential financial advisors is to first figure out what you want. You’ll want to take some time to consider some key questions about your financial situation and the type of advisor that will work best for you. You’ll want to gain a firm understanding of what type of financial advisor you want to work with. You’ll also want to find wealth advisors that work with clients that roughly match your portfolio and where you are at in your life. These two factors taken together will narrow your field of focus considerably, helping streamline your search and reduce any time wasted.

You might be wondering why you would use these two factors to find a financial advisor. Broadly speaking, you want to narrow your search down to a financial advisor that puts your best interests first, and one that has demonstrated experience working with individuals that are financial similar to yourself. By determining what type of financial advisor you are looking for first, you can eliminate a large portion of the financial advisors out there. At the same time, by focusing your search on the remaining financial advisors that serve individuals that are broadly similar to yourself, you will be able to further narrow down the field of potential financial advisors to something manageable.

Types of Financial Advisors

One of the quickest ways to narrow down your search for the best financial advisor San Diego is to search solely for fiduciary advisors. Many people looking for a financial advisor aren’t clear on the importance of searching for a fiduciary advisor. It may seem like a difference in semantics, but in reality, the difference between a financial advisor and a fiduciary advisor can have a large impact on the type of financial advice you receive.

To understand the core difference between a financial advisor and a fiduciary advisor you must understand the legal requirements that each is held to. There are two different standards that financial advisors may be held to depending on the capacity they are working in. These two standards are the suitability requirement and the fiduciary standard. From a high level, the main difference between is that the suitability requirement is far less onerous than the fiduciary standard. Let’s dive into these in greater detail so that you can understand why choosing a fiduciary advisor is important.

Suitability Requirement

The majority of financial advisors are held to the suitability requirement or suitability obligation. The full text of the suitability requirement can be found here in the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Rule 2111. At a basic level, the suitability requirement is designed to give individuals greater protection against financial mismanagement by requiring financial advisors to provide financial advice that is suitable for the client given their investment profile.

A client’s investment profile is usually composed of a variety of factors, including but not limited to their financial goals, age, the appetite for risk, timeline for achieving their goals, tax situation, and liquidity requirements. Any financial advisor you work with should have a firm understanding of the full scope of your investment profile and should take the time to get to know exactly what your goals are and how you view and tolerate risk. An investment profile is the basis by which the suitability requirement is judged, so if a financial advisor that is held to the suitability requirement doesn’t have a full understanding of your investment profile they may make recommendations that don’t align with your personal outlook or goals.  

There are three components to the suitability obligations that most financial advisors are held to. These three components must all be met for a financial advisor to legally make a recommendation to you. The first is that financial advisors must have a reasonable basis to believe that the investments they are recommending to their client are suitable for their investment profile. The second requirement is that financial advisors must believe that their recommendation is suitable specifically for you. The last requirement is that all investment recommendations to you must not only be suitable when assessed in isolation and when taken together as a whole. This means that an advisor can’t make a series of recommendations that are suitable on their own, but when looked at as a whole would not align with your investment profile.

Fiduciary Standard

While most financial advisors are held to the suitability requirement, a small portion are held to a much more rigorous standard known as a fiduciary standard or fiduciary duty. The fiduciary standard requires that fiduciary advisors place a client’s interests first at all times. This foundational principle must guide all recommendations that the fiduciary advisor provides to their client.

In order to meet their fiduciary duty, a fiduciary advisor must have intimate knowledge of your investment profile. Whereas a financial advisor held to the suitability requirement would be expected to have a broad sense of your investment profile before making a recommendation, a fiduciary advisor must have a complete understanding of your investment profile in order to make a recommendation that is in your best interests. This is because they must weigh all of the factors included in your investment profile against every option available before they give a recommendation, and they must ensure their recommendation aligns with your best interests.

Types of Advisors and Their Associated Obligations

Now that we have outlined the two standards that financial advisors might be held to, it’s helpful to apply this knowledge when narrowing down your search. The most common type of financial advisor you will encounter is a broker. Brokers are held to the suitability requirement that we outlined above. This means that brokers are required to make recommendations that are suitable to your investment profile. Importantly, what this doesn’t mean is that brokers must make a recommendation that is in your best interest. Rather, brokers may legally make a recommendation that, while suitable for you, isn’t necessarily the best option available for you.

In contrast to this are Registered Independent Advisors (RIA). From the outset, understand that individuals or organizations can be registered as both a broker and an RIA. In fact, very few RIA’s aren’t also registered as a broker. This means that they can be functioning either as an RIA or a broker in your interactions with them, and it can sometimes be difficult to discern which role they are acting in. However, setting that aside for the moment and assuming that your financial advisor is acting in their capacity as an RIA then they are held to the fiduciary standard. This means that an RIA must always make financial recommendations that are in your best interests. The important caveat here is they are only acting as a fiduciary advisor if they are solely serving as an RIA and not as a broker and RIA.

The takeaway from all of this is that you’ll almost certainly want to work with a fiduciary advisor. This is especially true if you are looking for a financial advisor you are going to be working with over a long period of time. When searching for the best financial advisor in San Diego, you will want to have a certain level of due diligence in your search to ensure that the advisor you are working with is acting solely as a fiduciary with you. You can’t simply search for financial advisor san diego and assume that the individual is a fiduciary advisor. The easiest way to ensure that your advisor is putting your interests first is to work with an advisor that is solely a fiduciary advisor, rather than one that is registered as both a broker and an RIA.

Find an Advisor That Has Experience With Similar Investment Profiles

The second way you can narrow your search down is to look for financial advisors that have clients with a similar investment profile to your own. This doesn’t mean that you have to ignore a financial advisor whose clientele doesn’t completely align with your age, income level, and long-term financial goals. If a financial advisor’s investment management services come highly recommended to you by someone you trust, then it is probably worthwhile to get to know them to see if they would be a good fit.

That being said, working with a financial advisor that has demonstrated experience working with clients that are roughly similar to yourself carries a number of advantages. For example, if your portfolio is quite large, you will almost certainly want to work with a financial advisor that has worked with other clients with large portfolios. Your financial needs will most likely be different, and the avenues for achieving your financial goals will also be different. Choosing a san diego fiduciary financial advisor that understands the whole scope of your investment profile, and has insight into realistic ways to help you achieve your financial long-term goals, is essential.

Closing Thoughts

Finding the best financial advisor in San Diego can be a time-consuming process. By narrowing down your search to a financial advisor that will be working with you solely as a fiduciary and that understands what advisory services you need, you will be able to quickly hone in on the financial advisors that will work best for you. Choosing a planning and investment advisor to work with is a big decision that should be carefully considered. You should always work with a financial advisor that you trust and that is a good fit for you. Finding such a financial advisor will require some work on your part, as you will want to verify their qualifications and spend some time to get to know them.

Ultimately, finding the best financial advisory services largely comes down to your unique needs, financial situation, and long-term goals. By working with a fiduciary advisor you can be assured that the planning and investment advice they provide is in the best interest of your financial well-being. At the same time, you will want to find a fiduciary advisor that you are comfortable working with and that you trust. After all, if you choose the right financial professional you will be working with them for a long period of time.


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