No Smoke and Mirrors – Just Transparency
Client-centered, fee-only investment advisers and financial planners tend to cost less and deliver more in the way of services than financial services advisors compensated by commissions. How can that possibly be true? The reason is that fees can be seen and are fully disclosed. Commissions are often well hidden and allow financial service firms to get by with charging more. Out of sight, out of mind.
Financial editor Bob Veres recently wrote in Inside Information that “a client with a $1 million portfolio will pay at least $20,000 more in various hidden costs to a broker than to a fee-only financial adviser, even if both the broker and adviser are charging the same fee amount for the planning and investment work.”
What are you paying for?
Know Whether You Are A Customer or Client
When you pay us a fee for investment advice and financial planning, you become a client of the adviser. The SEC holds fee-only investment advisers and financial planners to a “fiduciary” standard, which means they must be impartial, unbiased, and work as an advocate for clients. Being fee-only helps remove almost all conflicts of interest.
When you buy investment and insurance products from a financial services advisor, you are a customer. This distinction of being a customer rather than a client is of significant legal importance. A financial services advisor is employed by and owes a duty to the firm, rather than you. Many financial services advisors are compensated in part or completely by commissions that are hidden from view and represent significant conflicts of interest. A financial services advisor owes you, the customer, nothing but to treat you “fairly” and sell you products that are “suitable”.
What You Need To Know About Fees
Investment fees matter. They can make a big difference to your financial health in the long run. Before you put money into any investment, it's vital to uncover the real costs. They typically include these six types of fees. Read more here.
No Selling – Just Wisdom
Our clients compensate us for our knowledge and wisdom, in the same way they pay their attorney, accountant, or physician. We do not earn any commissions from the sale of financial products such as insurance, annuities, mutual funds, private REITS, or limited partnerships. We provide client-centered investment advisory services and financial planning.
If You Don’t Ask About Fees, Most Won’t Disclose
The difference between a fiduciary adviser and a financial services advisor is more than in the spelling of “adviser” and “advisor”. A fiduciary adviser is legally required to disclose all costs and conflicts of interest clearly and visibly. Most financial services advisors do not fully disclose costs and conflicts. This lack of full disclosure is one reason why so many customers of financial services advisors think they don’t pay anything for their advice. The only way to know exactly what commissions and fees you are paying is to read the fine print, ask the right questions, and insist on getting clear answers. For a primer on the right questions to ask, read more here.
Selling You “Suitable” Investments Isn’t What You Think It Means
Unfortunately, when it comes to investments, the word “suitability” does not mean what you probably think it means. It requires only that the financial services advisor is honest with you and that you are legally able to evaluate and purchase the product. It does not require that the product be good for you to own in terms of being best for or even appropriate for your needs. On the other hand, securities law requires advisers who charge fees for financial advice to be held to a “fiduciary” standard, which means they must be impartial, unbiased, and work as an advocate for clients. Read more here.
Easy Street For The Advisor – The Investment Poor House For You
When it comes to selecting managed financial investments like retirement plans, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, annuities, and private real estate investment trusts, it's essential to know how much you will be charged in fees.
Otherwise, you could own a mutual fund or annuity with great diversification which invests in high quality securities, yet still do no better over 20 years than had you stuck your money into a bank certificate of deposit earning 1%. You could own a private real estate investment trust that owns great properties in AAA locations, yet lose your shirt. All because you didn’t pay attention to the fees. Read more here.