Home » Money Matters » Manage Money » Planning » Financial Consultant vs Financial Advisor: What’s the Difference?
Financial Consultant vs Financial Advisor - Guide

Financial Consultant vs Financial Advisor: What’s the Difference?

Are you drowning in financial jargon but unsure where to turn for help? When managing your money and planning for your future, the right professional can make all the difference. But with so many different titles circulating in the personal finance world, it can be hard to differentiate between a financial consultant vs financial advisor and understand who to consult in your financial situation.

Let us help clarify things today by exploring the difference between a financial consultant and a financial advisor. Though these two titles may appear similar at first glance, there’s much more than meets the eye when it comes to an understanding what each role does and how best they can help you reach your money goals. We’ll break it down for you here, so hang tight as we get started!

Financial Consultant vs Financial Advisor

Are you trying to make smart decisions about your finances but feeling overwhelmed by the many financial professionals? It’s easy to see why—there are so many titles, including “financial consultant” and “financial advisor.”

So, what’s the difference between a financial consultant vs financial advisor? While both are essential to sound financial guidance, it’s important to understand the distinctions between the type of financial services each provide so you can make the right choice for your financial life.

A financial consultant typically provides one-off focused advice on a key area (such as investments) based on your needs. A financial advisor takes a more comprehensive approach and provides long-term guidance or advice on multiple areas of finance; they also often provide ongoing service as needed.

So if you’re looking for help making complicated investment decisions in one field, a financial consultant may be the right choice. However, a financial advisor may be better suited to meet your needs if you need broad-based guidance in multiple areas—like taxes, retirement planning, estate planning, or insurance.

What is a Financial Consultant?

You might go to a financial consultant or advisor for financial planning services. But what is the difference?

A financial consultant can advise you on different investments and financial planning, like how to save for college. They are not linked to any specific product, and they are not offering any investment advice. Instead, they provide a structured approach to helping analyze your overall financial picture, develop goals and objectives, and decide how to achieve them.

Consultants are great resources for helping you set up a budget, follow through with it, and guide when to use debt or save money. They can also help you understand the tax implications of your investments and consult on estate planning topics. Many consultants can also provide referral services for other services within the investment industry, like insurance planning or portfolio management.

What is a Financial Advisor?

So, what is a financial advisor? A financial advisor is licensed to advise about investments, taxes, and other general financial topics. Financial advisors can help you plan for your future and reach your long-term goals.

Financial advisors typically have more specific qualifications than financial consultants. Most financial advisors must be registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or pass exams administered by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). They must also renew their licenses periodically to show that they are up to date on the most recent tax laws, regulations, and investment strategies. In addition, many financial advisors are members of professional organizations such as the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) or the Certified Financial Planners Board of Standards (CFP).

Where a financial consultant might be hired to analyze your finances and assess a single situation – such as retirement planning or investments – a financial advisor can provide an ongoing relationship that covers all aspects of your finances. They can help you develop a long-term strategy for achieving your goals by analyzing your current situation and recommending investments or other strategies that best fit your needs. A good financial advisor will also work closely with other professionals – such as attorneys or CPAs – to create an overall plan for you.

What Are the Roles of a Financial Consultant vs Financial Advisor?

You might be wondering what the roles of a financial consultant and a financial advisor are. While there is some overlap between the two, they are distinct positions with different responsibilities.

Financial Consultant

A financial consultant provides expert advice on strategic business decisions and composes research reports and other documents, such as business plans and market analyses. They guide decision-making.

Financial Advisor

On the other hand, financial advisors are more focused on managing their clients’ investments and retirement savings. They may help manage investments, do retirement planning, manage risk tolerance, and generally offer advice on financial matters.

Financial advisors help their clients develop a strategy tailored to their individual goals and needs while also helping them stay up to date with any regulatory changes or market trends that could impact their investments. They may also act as an intermediary between their clients and other professionals, such as accountants or attorneys, who are needed for specific services or transactions.

What Services Do Financial Consultants Offer?

Regarding services, financial consultants offer a range of expertise that can help you reach your long-term financial goals. They can guide various topics, from investment advice and portfolio management to retirement and estate planning.

Here are just some of the services that financial consultants can offer:

  1. Investment Advice: A financial consultant will have the experience and expertise to advise on the most suitable investments that match their client’s risk appetite and long-term goals
  2. Portfolio Management: A financial consultant will be able to provide advice on how best to manage your portfolio to increase gains while managing risks
  3. Retirement Planning: Retirement planning is an important part of setting yourself up for the future, which is why a financial consultant can help with this by advising on how best to save for retirement while reaching short-term goals
  4. Estate Planning: Estate planning involves drawing up a plan specifying how your assets should be passed on upon death or incapacity, which a financial consultant can help you with. They will assess your current situation and any future plans or aspirations you may have to come up with the most appropriate estate plan for you.

What Services Do Financial Advisors Offer?

When discussing financial advisors, you might wonder what services they offer. Generally speaking, financial advisors are well-versed in retirement planning, investments, estate planning, taxes, insurance policies, and more. They can advise on any of these topics and make recommendations to help you achieve your desired goals.

Financial advisors might provide the following services:

  1. Retirement planning – Financial advisors can help you plan for retirement by assessing your current savings and investments, suggesting strategies to meet your goals, and managing your investments over time.
  2. Investment management – Financial advisors can guide developing an investment portfolio that meets your needs, then manage the investments on your behalf.
  3. Tax planning – Financial advisors can guide how best to structure your finances to minimize the taxes you’ll have to pay in the future.
  4. Estate planning – Financial advisors can help you plan how your assets will be passed down after you’re gone by developing strategies that minimize taxes and ensure the smooth transition of assets to your heirs.
  5. Insurance advice – Financial advisors can advise on which types of insurance are necessary for you and may even be able to help you find insurance policies with more favorable terms than what’s currently available on the market.

Qualifications of a Financial Consultant or Advisor

You might not know the difference between a financial consultant and a financial advisor. And you may be surprised to learn that these two terms are often used interchangeably.

So what are the differences in qualifications?

Financial Consultant

Financial consultants typically have a bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting, or business administration. They help clients make educated investment decisions and manage their financial portfolios. They help their clients with long-term planning, asset allocation, and investment strategies while advising them on tax-saving strategies.

Financial Advisor

A financial advisor often has the same background as a consultant but tends to have more specialized knowledge of investments and retirement plans. They usually have additional certifications such as Chartered Financial Analysts (CFA®) or Certified Financial Planners (CFP®). Their job is to help clients with wealth management, retirement planning, and estate planning for the present and future. They focus on ensuring their clients meet their long-term goals through portfolio diversification and providing guidance on current market trends.

What Certifications does Each Have?

What certifications does each of these financial professionals have? It’s a good question to help you understand who might be better suited to helping you manage your money.

Financial Consultant

A financial consultant typically holds a bachelor’s degree in finance and may hold multiple certifications, such as Certified Financial Planner (CFP®), Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), or Certified Investment Banker (CIB). These certifications are usually rigorous and involve extensive knowledge of economics, investments, taxation, etc.

Financial Advisor

A financial advisor typically has a bachelor’s degree in accounting or finance and may also have certifications like the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor (CRPC). Advisors must also pass the Series 7 exam—a comprehensive securities examination administered by FINRA—to advise about investments.

Ultimately, each professional’s certifications can help you decide which suits your needs better. Research each certification before selecting a professional to manage your finances!

How to Choose Between a Financial Consultant vs Financial Advisor

Now you know more about the differences between a financial consultant and a financial advisor, it’s time for the most important question: how do you choose between them?

Let’s break it down into two categories: what kind of help do you need, and how much hand-holding do you want?

Help with Financial Advice

If you need help with tailored financial advice, go with an experienced financial advisor. They have the qualifications and expertise to provide tailored advice on your portfolio, investments, and more.

Help with Making Financial Decisions

If you need help making financial decisions, such as setting up investments, budgeting, or saving for retirement, consider working with a financial consultant. They can provide comprehensive guidance and understanding when making major financial decisions.

Ultimately, if you need help managing your finances in any way — whether through short-term or long-term planning — it pays to talk to a qualified professional who is used to dealing with complex financial matters. Finding the right one for you may take some time, but doing so could make all the difference in helping improve your financial security over time.

Which is Right for You?

So, you’re looking for financial advice—which is right for you, a financial consultant or a financial advisor?

The answer to this question really depends on your specific situation and goals. Financial advisors are licensed professionals typically highly knowledgeable and experienced in investments, retirement savings, estate planning, taxation, and insurance. Financial consultants typically have more of an independent role when offering advice, usually focusing on budgeting and debt management.

That said, there are a few key differences you should know about before making a decision. First, a financial advisor will likely provide more comprehensive advice than a consultant. If you’re looking for help setting up a long-term plan or diversifying your investments, it’s probably best to opt for an advisor. On the other hand, if you need assistance with budgeting and setting up short-term goals (i.e., getting out of debt), a financial consultant may be the better option.

Also worth noting is that advisors are typically required to have certain credentials (such as being registered with the SEC). In contrast, consultants have no official licensing requirement—though most have extensive knowledge in finance or related areas. Ultimately, it’s important to do your research before committing to either option so that you can find the best professional to help meet your individual needs and goals.

What is a Financial Planner?

A financial planner is a professional who helps individuals and businesses manage their finances. With a deep understanding of investment, taxes, insurance, and other financial concepts, a financial planner helps clients make smart decisions about their money.

A financial planner looks at a client’s financial situation, helps them set goals, and creates a plan to achieve them. This may include setting up retirement accounts, creating a budget, or developing investment strategies. A financial planner may also monitor a client’s progress and adjusts the plan when necessary. It is important to find a financial planner with expertise and credentials.


You might have some FAQs about the differences between financial consultants and advisors. Here are a few of the questions you might have:

What exactly is the difference between a financial consultant and a financial advisor?

Financial advisors are typically trained in investments and helping create portfolios. In contrast, financial consultants are experts at developing and implementing financial strategies, analyzing businesses’ finances, and offering various services, including budgeting, cash flow management, tax planning, and retirement planning.

Can a financial advisor do what a financial consultant does?

Yes! Financial advisors can often provide services like budgeting and cash flow management. However, it’s best to check with your specific advisor to ensure they offer such services. Additionally, it’s important to research their experience in the areas you need assistance with to trust that the advice you’re getting is sound.

What type of education is necessary for both professions?

Financial consultants typically need at least an undergraduate degree in finance or accounting plus several years of experience as a consultant or analyst. Financial advisors usually need at least an undergraduate degree in finance or economics and either certification or licensing from their state.

Is a Financial Consultant and Financial Advisor Different from an Investment Advisor?

While there may be some overlap in the roles and responsibilities of a financial consultant, financial advisor, and investment advisor, there are distinct differences between them.

A financial consultant typically provides advice on various financial services, including investments, insurance, and retirement planning. Both financial consultants and advisors may offer investment advice. Still, this advisor typically focuses solely on investment management and may provide a more in-depth analysis of specific investment opportunities. The registered investment advisor must pass the FINRA Series 7 or Series 65 Exams.

Ultimately, the level of specialization and expertise required for each role will depend on the needs and goals of individual clients. Choosing a qualified, experienced, trustworthy financial professional who understands your financial situation and goals is important.


Confused about the difference between a financial consultant and a financial advisor? It comes down to offering a tailored service and a more holistic approach to the advice. Financial consultants focus on specific areas of expertise, while financial advisors provide a more comprehensive service encompassing various areas.

We can all do with a little help where our finances are concerned, and a financial consultant or advisor can offer that help for your current financial situation. Whether seeking help with investments, retirement planning, tax advice, or something else, a financial consultant or advisor can steer you in the right direction. Just shop around and find someone best suited to your needs.

Learn More

Check our other guides to help you manage your money here.