Opinions are Alexandra's own. This site is not affiliated with any of the companies or people mentioned or linked to. Information on this site is for educational purposes only and is not to be taken as specific advice. Speak with a financial professional to determine what is appropriate for your personal financial situation. ©2019 by Alexandra Wilson, CFP®

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. (CFP Board) owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, CFP® (with plaque design), and CFP® (with flame design) in the U.S., which it authorizes use of by individuals who successfully complete CFP Board's initial and ongoing certification requirements.

What is the Difference Between Financial Planning and Wealth Management?

Financial planning and wealth management do overlap, but there are a few key differences between the two.

Common traits

Both are a subset of financial advising. The training and knowledge base is very close between the two, but Wealth Managers typically dive deeper into financial advising topics than Financial Planners.

Financial Planning

Financial planning typically is associated with lifestyle planning. Things such as budgeting, cash flow planning and saving for shorter-term things, like college, fall under financial planning. A Financial Planner can also review your retirement plans, insurance needs, investment allocation, and tax opportunities.

Financial planners typically pursue an industry designation after their bachelor's degree, such as becoming a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional from the CFP Board, but most stop there.

Wealth Management

Once you reach the level of high-net-worth or even ultra-high-net-worth - it's time to hire a Wealth Manager. High-net-worth also called "accredited investors", starts at a net worth of $1 million and an annual income of $200,000+. Ultra-high-net-worth starts at $30 million in liquid assets.

Wealth Managers dive into more planning opportunities, such as capital gains planning, legal planning, estate planning, philanthropic planning, trusts, and risk management.

Wealth Managers typically manage fewer, but bigger clients than Financial Planners. This allows them to focus their energy and time on a subset, instead of hundreds of people like Financial Planners. Some have minimum asset requirements as high as $10 million.

Many Wealth Managers are Certified Public Accountants (CPA), licensed attorneys, and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals (CFP). They may also be Chartered Financial Analysts (CFA), or the most prestigious - Chartered Wealth Manager (CWM).

Financial Planner = Clients are building wealth Wealth Manager = Clients are wealthy

While some of the differences between Financial Planners and Wealth Managers might come down to the marketing, there is typically more advanced financial advising done by Wealth Managers.