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Vanguard Advisor Review

Vanguard is an investment and advisor firm with over $7 trillion AUM. We break down its advisor products and what each offers you.

The Vanguard Group, or Vanguard for short, is a registered investment advisor (RIA) firm. It offers personal financial advisor and wealth management services. In addition, it allows customers to open brokerage and educational accounts, as well as trusts. The company is also the second-largest mutual fund and ETF provider in the country.

Due to the company’s minimum investment requirements, its advisor products are suited for intermediate or high-net-worth clients. If you’re eligible, you’ll gain access to highly qualified advisors and advanced technology that can help guide your financial decisions and build your investment portfolio. In this review, we’ll outline each service the firm offers and help you decide whether one of them is right for you.

Assets Under Management

$7.7 trillion as of 2023

Number of Advisors

375

Date Founded

May 1, 1975

CEO

Mortimer J. Buckley

Fee Structure

Fee-only

Headquarters Address

100 Vanguard Boulevard
Malvern, PA 19355

Phone Number

(877) 662-7447, Mon-Fri, 8am-8pm EST

Pros and Cons of Vanguard

Pros

  • Firm is a fiduciary
  • Provides access to robo-advisor tools, including tax-loss harvesting and automated rebalancing
  • Easy to open and close an account
  • Wide variety of investments to choose from

Cons

  • High account minimums
  • Must invest at least $500,000 to receive a dedicated financial advisor

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Types of Clients Vanguard Serves

Vanguard offers its advisor services to individual investors who can meet the minimum investment requirement. There are three types of advisory services the firm provides: Wealth Management, Personal Advisor Services, and Personal Advisor Select. Each comes with separate requirements, which break down as follows:

ServiceMinimum Investment
Wealth Management$5,000,000 minimum
Personal Advisor Services$50,000 minimum
Personal Advisor Select$500,000 minimum

If you’re unable to meet any of the requirements above, you won’t be able to hire an advisor from Vanguard. You must also pay an advisory fee, which varies based on the services you use.

Financial Advisor Services Vanguard Offers

Vanguard offers three major types of financial advisor and investment management services that offer a human expert. All of which fit under one umbrella, Personal Advisor Services (which is the same name as the low-tier service). Each level under this is tailored to a specific type of client and works a bit differently. For instance, the company’s Personal Advisor Services is a hybrid between a robo- and human advisor, whereas Personal Advisor Select allows you to have direct access to an expert at all times.

Below is a full look at each financial advisor offering from Vanguard, as well as their features:

  • Wealth Management. With a $5,000,000+ investment, you get direct access to:
    • A dedicated financial advisor and a team of experts with wealth management experience.
    • Scheduled consultations
    • Comprehensive financial planning services, including tax, estate, retirement, and family legacy planning.
    • Vanguard’s grouping of investment products
    • Investment management
    • Trust creation and administration
    • Behavioral coaching
    • An advisor who adheres to the fiduciary duty.
  • Personal Advisor Services. An initial $50,000 investment allows you to receive a hybrid robo- and human-advisor service, which includes:
    • Financial advice to help you build your investment portfolio.
    • Advanced algorithms to help you pick investments, build your portfolio, and monitor progress.
    • Automated tax-loss harvesting service that optimizes your tax savings within your portfolio.
    • Allows you to choose between an all-index, active/index, or environmental, social, and governance investment option. Each one governs both how your human- and robo-advisor invests your funds.
    • An advisor who adheres to the fiduciary duty.
  • Personal Advisor Select. After meeting the $500,000 minimum investment requirement, you’ll receive access to a dedicated financial advisor, which provides the following:
    • Investment management advice
    • Comprehensive financial planning, including estate, retirement, and tax planning.
    • Risk management
    • Advice on how to save money on taxes to maximize your returns.
    • Personalized advice that’s tailored to your goals.
    • An advisor who adheres to the fiduciary duty.

Types of Advisors

Every advisor who works for Vanguard must follow a fiduciary duty when they serve clients. This is because the company is registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as an RIA. Additionally, professionals who work with the firm don’t earn a commission as part of their duty. Rather, they receive payment via advisory fees.

Typically, advisors working for Vanguard are certified financial planners (CFPs). These are professionals who’ve completed a rigorous set of requirements and received their certification from the CFP Board. Because of their experience, CFPs are highly qualified to help with a wide range of advisory services, including wealth management, financial planning, and investment management.

Fee Structure

For each of the advisor products above, there is an accompanying fee that clients must pay. For two of the three, it’s a percentage of assets under management (AUM). However, for the robo- and human-advisor hybrid, you’ll pay a flat fee. Here’s a breakdown of each product and the fees that accompany them provided that you put in the minimum investment for each:

Product NameAnnual Fee
Wealth Management0.30% of AUM
Personal Advisor Services$35 or $40 per $10,000 (depending on the option you choose)
Personal Advisor Select0.30% of AUM

Because of Vanguard’s fiduciary duty, it won’t ever charge you a commission for advisor services. It’ll only charge a flat rate that’s determined by both your AUM and the services you’re opting to receive.

Disclosures

Vanguard has three disclosures within its Form ADV filed with the SEC. In 2015, it failed to keep an adequate supervisory system, in which its payroll department should have notified the compliance department of garnishment orders. Next, in 2017, the firm employed an investment advisor representative (IAR) who was registered in Arizona but not in Pennsylvania. This resulted in two additional disclosures against the company.

Vanguard Customer Service

You have a few options if you need to reach Vanguard’s customer service. To get in contact with agents related to the product you bought (or are considering buying), you’ll want to call the phone number associated with it:

Alternatively, you can attempt to reach Vanguard’s corporate-level customer service department for personal investors at (877) 662-7447. The company’s hours are 8am to 8pm EST for each of its numbers.

How to Get Started with Vanguard

To get started with any one of Vanguard’s advisor products, we recommend visiting the company’s website. From there, you can go to the page corresponding to the product that most fits your needs, such as Wealth Management or Personal Advisor Select.

Each product page will encourage you to call to make an appointment with one of the firm’s representatives. For your convenience, we’ve listed the numbers for each product in the customer service section above.

Whether you’re setting up an account online or over the phone, you’ll need to be ready to provide a few details regarding your finances. Before an advisor can adequately help you, they’ll want to know about your:

  • Income
  • Financial and investment goals (e.g., saving for college, retirement, getting out of debt, etc.)
  • Currently owned assets (even if non-Vanguard)
  • Expected Social Security income

How to Close or Withdraw from Your Vanguard Account

If, for any reason, you need to close your Vanguard account, you should be able to do so with ease. However, be aware that you must zero it out before you close it. This means you must sell off all that you have invested with the firm. After that, you’ll need to transfer your funds to another account, such as savings or checking with a bank.

Once you’ve zeroed your account, you can close it via Vanguard’s online portal. Alternatively, you can do so by calling the company’s corporate phone number at (877) 662-7447 from Monday through Friday, 8am to 8pm EST. If you have any questions about this process, contact one of its representatives directly via the number above.

Tips for Choosing a Financial Advisor Firm

Which financial advisor firm you decide to work with, whether it’s Vanguard or another, is a choice you should make with great care. Ultimately, it should depend on your needs and goals, and if the company you choose will suit them. You’ll also want to ensure the professional you select is qualified and someone you enjoy working with.

Of course, price is another consideration you should make. Some firms, such as Vanguard, charge you based on a flat fee model. Others, namely broker-dealers, may charge a commission if they aren’t bound by a fiduciary duty.

Some may also not be accessible due to steep asset requirements. For instance, Vanguard requires you to invest $50,000 for its lowest-tier advisor product. That’s a pretty high requirement for the average investor. So, if you have less to invest, you’ll need to find a firm you’ll qualify for.

To help with your search for an advisor that fits your needs, we recommend using this free matching tool. After you fill out a short quiz about your goals and financial situation, it’ll connect you with up to three vetted fiduciary experts near you.

Methodology

The information in this review is based on public information via the Vanguard website and the SEC’s Investment Adviser Search tool. However, neither the company nor its representatives have any say on the content we’ve included on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it worth using a Vanguard advisor?

This depends on your goals and current financial situation. At a minimum, you’ll need $50,000 to qualify for the company’s robo- and human-advisor hybrid. However, if you’re eligible, Vanguard’s experts can provide immense value through their expertise and experience. Each one is also required to be a fiduciary, which means they’ll put your best interest first.

How much does Vanguard charge for a financial advisor?

Vanguard charges a fee of 0.30% for both its Wealth Management and Personal Advisor Select products as long as you make the minimum investment. For its Personal Advisor Services product, you’ll pay either $35 or $40 per $10,000. The firm will never charge you a commission on investments or products they recommend.

What are the cons of Vanguard?

Vanguard has a very high barrier to entry to gain access to its advisor services. You’ll need at least $50,000 to qualify for the robo- and human-advisor hybrid and $500,000 to get a dedicated expert. Also, for Wealth Management, you’ll need a whopping $5,000,000 on hand to be eligible. If you’re a beginner or can’t meet the minimums, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

Another negative is that if you want to close your account, you’ll need to sell off all of your Vanguard assets. If circumstances push you to do so, you may risk selling at the wrong time. So, if you’re looking to work with the firm, you should be in it for the long haul.

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