Facet Wealth: Comprehensive Financial Planning in an Online-Only World

Facet Wealth combines full service with online convenience.

Facet Wealth is a modern take on the traditional brokerage industry. A combination of the professional guidance of Certified Financial Planners with online capabilities and a unique twist on fee-based service, Facet Wealth is hard to cubbyhole into just one specific category. 

Facet Wealth stands out from its competitors in several ways. In one sense, the firm is an online brokerage, as it doesn’t offer in-person consultations and financial plans are provided electronically. But the company also offers a level of service that online stock brokers simply can’t compete with — personalized financial plans developed by well-trained CFPs. For this reason, the firm is better compared with robo-advisors that also provide CFP-based financial services. 

In a world moving toward zero commissions, Facet Wealth’s all-inclusive fee may seem high to some; for others, who may be used to paying an asset-based fee that’s a percentage of total assets, Facet Wealth’s fees may seem low. To help sort out whether or not Facet Wealth is a good option for you, here’s an overview of the products and services offered by the firm, including comparisons with other brokerages.

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Quick Take

Facet Wealth gets credit for combining professional-grade financial advice in an online package. However, it’s primarily for the mid-level “mass affluent,” as its services may be too pricey for smaller investors and too hands-off for the wealthy.

Facet Wealth Logo 2019
Equity Trades $0 (monthly fee between $100 and $500) 
Account Minimum $0 (none listed)
Promotion N/A

 

Here’s the information you’ll find in this Facet Wealth review:

About Facet Wealth

When it comes to the world of wealth management, Facet Wealth is just a baby. Based in Baltimore, Maryland, the firm only came into existence in 2016. As of January 2020, Facet Wealth listed just 99 employees, with its primary $33 million investment coming from investment firm Warburg Pincus and venture capital firm Slow Ventures.  

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Pros and Cons of Facet Wealth

Facet Wealth is one of just a few online-based firms that provide CFP-based consultations. But like its competitors, it has both pros and cons. 

Pros

  • Portfolios professionally managed by CFPs
  • Management fees based on level of service; assessed annually
  • No account minimums
  • $0 commissions (part of overall fee package)

Cons

  • Costs and offered services not clearly outlined on website
  • Can only interface with CFP advisors online or via web conferencing

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Facet Wealth at a Glance

Here’s a quick look at the features and benefits of Facet Wealth:

Facet Wealth at a Glance
Account Minimum $0 (none listed)
Stock Commission $0 (part of monthly fee)
Option Commission $0 (part of monthly fee)
Commission-Free ETFs Unlimited (part of monthly fee)
Zero-Transaction-Fee Mutual Funds Unlimited (part of monthly fee)
Investment Selection Broad; at CFP professional’s discretion, unless clients choose to manage their own
Customer Service Dedicated CFP professional available at nearly any time
Mobile App N/A
News and Research N/A (provided directly from CFP professional)
Miscellaneous Fees N/A (part of monthly fee)
Current Promotion N/A

Facet Wealth isn’t like other most online brokerages that offer DIY trading and per-transaction or AUM fees. When it comes to individual services, most are provided by the company’s CFPs, including advice on when to buy or sell a stock. Here’s a breakdown of how Facet Wealth delivers its services to customers across various parameters. 

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Individual Services Reviews

As a full-service financial services firm that operates entirely online, Facet Wealth doesn’t offer the do-it-yourself individual services that many popular online brokerages do. In some ways, however, this unique approach offers capabilities beyond those of traditional online firms. Here’s a look at some standard points of comparison.

Trading Experience

Facet Wealth doesn’t offer the traditional trading experience you might get with other online brokers, such as Fidelity or E-Trade. Facet Wealth, in this sense, is more akin to a full-service brokerage. Your CFP-professional will handle your trading for you, in line with your investment objectives and risk tolerance, as established in your mutually developed financial plan. In other words, Facet Wealth doesn’t offer a retail-facing trading platform — all of your trading is handled in-house by your hired professional, based on your personalized needs.

A Beginner’s Guide: How To Invest in Stocks

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Account and Investment Minimums

Facet Wealth has no account minimums.

Commissions and Fund Expenses

All of the costs of managing your account are wrapped up into a single annual management fee at Facet Wealth. As such, you don’t have to worry about individual trading commissions or mutual fund expenses. This makes it harder to make an apples-to-apples comparison of trading costs with popular online trading firms. 

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Learn: How To Decide Between Mutual Funds and Stocks

Trading Technology

As Facet Wealth doesn’t offer an online trading platform, it doesn’t have the same types of trading technology as online trading firms. All trades are executed at no additional charge by Facet Wealth’s CFP professionals.

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Usability

Usability is in the eye of the beholder. For certain types of clients, Facet Wealth may seem not very usable at all, in the sense that there is no facility for online trading or other customizable interface for DIY traders. However, those who need the full services of a financial professional and don’t need or want a usable interface won’t mind. 

Mobile and Emerging Tech

As Facet Wealth isn’t a do-it-yourself platform, it doesn’t offer customers the traditional mobile trading app that other online brokers have. 

Range of Offerings and Investment Selection

Facet Wealth has a theoretically unlimited range of offerings and investment selection. Your CFP professional will work with you to determine the investments that best suit your needs and will develop a financial plan on your behalf, buying and selling various securities. That being said, Facet Wealth focuses on passive management, so you can anticipate that when it comes to investments, the firm will focus primarily on index funds, ETFs or both. 

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Perhaps it’s best to think of Facet Wealth more as a full-service financial provider rather than just an asset manager. In addition to investments, Facet Wealth’s CFP professionals can assist you with everything from company stock option plans and 401(k) plans to IRAs and employee benefits. You can even link your outside accounts with Facet Wealth so that the firm can better manage your overall client experience. Facet Wealth has the capability to directly manage accounts at four investment firms: Charles Schwab, TD Ameritrade, Pershing and Fidelity. 

ETF vs. Mutual Funds: Same Objectives, Different Methods

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News and Research

Facet Wealth isn’t set up as an online dispenser of financial education and information. If you’re looking for daily news on the latest hot stock, for example, you’ll have to look elsewhere. Similarly, although Facet Wealth specializes in providing information about retirement planning, employee stock options, investment options and the like, it offers this information firsthand from a CFP professional — not through a link on a website. For hands-on access to online information, you’ll want to use other sites as a supplement to the comprehensive financial planning offered by a Facet Wealth advisor.

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Customer Service

Facet Wealth offers phone and video support to its customers. Meetings can be arranged with CFP professionals at nearly any time. When you call in to Facet Wealth, you’ll be connected with your own dedicated CFP professional and you can ask as many questions as you want. Advisors are available for consultation in the evenings and on weekends as well, and the consultations can be as short or as long as customers need. 

See: Wall Street’s Biggest Winners and Losers in 2019

Security

Facet Wealth uses industry-standard security measures to keep client data safe. Data always belongs to clients and is hosted on servers using Amazon Web Services. Whether the data is in-transit or at-rest, Facet Wealth uses encryption to protect it. 

Costs

Clients are charged a monthly fee that ranges between $100 and $500, or between $1,200 and $6,000 annually. There is no minimum time-length sign-up requirement. On the plus side, all you’ll ever pay is that monthly fee. On the other hand, costs aren’t quite as clearly defined as with other online brokerages, which charge a set fee per transaction or an annual fee based on the amount of assets you hold at the firm. You also won’t know the specific fees you’ll pay until you actually meet with your Facet Wealth advisor. Clients requiring a “more extensive relationship” will be charged a monthly fee on the higher side of the range. 

Facet Wealth maintains that their “pay-as-you-go” style matches client costs with the level of service they need, rather than how many transactions they make or how many assets they hold. 

Learn: Investing for Beginners: What First-Time Investors Need To Know

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What Facet Wealth Is Best For

Facet Wealth is best for the following features:

  • Customer service
  • Range of offerings and investment selection
  • Commissions and fund expenses

Note that your broad range of investment choices are in the hands of your CFP advisor and are not ones that you can pick from via an online trading platform. Note also that your commissions and fund expenses are covered by your annual fee, which depending on your perspective, may be high or low. If you’re a very active trader, this fee may seem quite low. But if you never trade your own portfolio and don’t need much advice, the fee may seem high. 

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Where Facet Wealth Falls Short

Here’s where Facet Wealth comes up short compared with some other brokers:

  • Mobile and emerging technologies
  • Trading experience
  • News and research 

Bear in mind that it’s hard to make an apples-to-apples comparison to other online brokers in these areas because your CFP professional will handle your actual trading and is your primary source of news and research.

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Current Promotions

Facet Wealth doesn’t currently offer any sign-up bonuses or promotions. 

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Comparison: Facet Wealth vs. Other Brokers

Facet Wealth doesn’t really match up well in comparison with traditional online brokers like E-Trade and Fidelity. However, there are some other firms that offer CFP-provided advice on a fee-based platform, as outlined below. 

Broker Comparison
Broker Account Minimum CFP Access Fees
Betterment Premium $100,000 Unlimited 0.40% annually
Personal Capital $100,000, $200,000 or $1 million Either a financial advisory team or two dedicated financial advisors 0.89% annually on amounts up to $1 million 
Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Premium  $25,000 Unlimited One-time planning fee of $300, then $30/month

Remember that the above firms aren’t exact matches with Facet Wealth. Betterment and Schwab, for example, operate robo-advisor services with a CFP overlay and do not provide clients with a dedicated CFP, like Facet Wealth. Personal Capital is more of a hybrid advisor, providing both digital management services and CFP support. Other online brokers, such as E-Trade, offer zero commissions on most equity and ETF trades but don’t offer dedicated CFP professionals for an annual fee.

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Should You Invest With Facet Wealth?

If you’re a do-it-yourself trader, Facet Wealth isn’t the best option for you. The firm is most like a traditional, full-service firm wrapped in an online brokerage package. Facet Wealth is most appropriate for clients in need of full-service financial planning but who are comfortable with working via video calls and online conferencing rather than meeting in person. 

One of the major strengths of Facet Wealth is that it only employs Certified Financial Planners. CFPs are specially trained financial advisors that must act as fiduciaries — meaning, they are required by law to put client interests ahead of their own. This may seem like a rule that all financial advisors should follow, but the truth is they don’t.

The average advisor at your local or online brokerage firm is simply a registered representative, and they are only held to the “suitability” standard. This means they can only make recommendations that are considered “suitable” for you, but they aren’t required to meet the higher “fiduciary” standard that CFPs are. For many clients, this is an important distinction and consideration when choosing a brokerage. 

Of course, beyond standard online brokerages, Facet Wealth has competitors in the “digital-meets-CFP” category as well. Robo-advisors like Betterment and Schwab Intelligent Portfolios have elevated their game by adding fee-based, CFP-directed financial planning services to their standard digital platforms.

Overall, Facet Wealth offers an attractive package for clients that need fiduciary-based, comprehensive financial planning. Investors should, however, consider the costs and service levels provided by competitors to determine which is the best option for their money. 

Keep Reading: Beginning Investors, These Are the 10 Best Online Stockbrokers for You

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For the latest GOBankingRates evaluations of other top retirement accounts, online brokerages and other information on investing, check out these articles:

    Information is accurate as of Dec. 3, 2019; commission rates are accurate as of March. 10, 2020. This content is not provided by Facet Wealth. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by Facet Wealth. This site may be compensated through the bank advertiser Affiliate Program.

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    About the Author

    John Csiszar

    After earning a B.A. in English with a Specialization in Business from UCLA, John Csiszar worked in the financial services industry as a registered representative for 18 years. Along the way, Csiszar earned both Certified Financial Planner and Registered Investment Adviser designations, in addition to being licensed as a life agent, while working for both a major Wall Street wirehouse and for his own investment advisory firm. During his time as an advisor, Csiszar managed over $100 million in client assets while providing individualized investment plans for hundreds of clients.

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