Your opinion on advisor vs. adviser?

Poll: Advisor vs. adviser

Which spelling is correct—advisor or adviser?

Google argues for advisor. Searches yielded 741 million results for advisor versus only 132 million for adviser.

The SEC favors “adviser.”

When I ran a poll on this topic in 2012, “advisor” won over “adviser,” 79% to 21%. Most of my clients prefer “advisor,” too. However, some people whom I respect favor “adviser,” as you’ll see in Bill Winterberg’s tweet, the links below, and the comments on this post.

Updates to “Advisor vs. adviser”

July 2012 update:

Here are links to two recent articles on this topic:

March 2017 update: I removed the outdated poll reference and shared the results of that poll.

Also, see the advisor vs. adviser link in the following tweet, courtesy of Stephen Foreman:

Phillip Shemella, author of “Advisor or Adviser: A data-journey for one word that goes both ways,” says, “advisor is a title, and adviser is anyone else who advises and is not already an advisor.

Adviser or advisor? The debate rages on” covers similar ground in Investment News.

8 replies
  1. Jason Zweig
    Jason Zweig says:

    Hi, Susan,

    I don’t know why anyone would want to be an “advisor” under the Investment Advisers Act. The law says you are an adviser, not an advisor.

    I think there is an odd pretense going on. An author is, somehow, more dignified than a writer. An orator is more eloquent than a lecturer. There is something about the “-or” suffix than makes it appear to carry more gravitas than “-er.” When real-estate agents invented a moniker for themselves, they chose to become realtors, not realters.

    But you can’t make the quality of your financial advice better by calling yourself an advisor instead of an adviser. It’s still advice, and it’s the quality of the advice that determines its importance, not whether you end your title with an “-er” or an “-or.” So far as I’m concerned, advisers who call themselves advisors are being pretentious.

    Best wishes/jz

  2. Harriett Magee
    Harriett Magee says:

    I agree with Jason Zweig that the “or” connotes pretension. If the SEC says adviser, that’s good enough for me.

  3. Gene Balas
    Gene Balas says:


    I worked at one investment management firm that managed a large fund-of-funds asset allocation model portfolio platform. We used both terms – to denote two separate categories of people and firms. For RIAs that manage money on a discretionary basis, such as the separate account managers we hired to manage assets for our clients, we used the term “adviser,” consistent with the SEC spelling. However, for those persons who advised retail clients on investments and sold our products, we used the term “advisor” to denote a more casual use of the term that did not necessarily imply SEC registration nor managing funds on a discretionary basis.

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