Are Financial Advisors Worth the Money – Are They Fiduciaries?

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The concept of “Fiduciary” is meaningless today when discussing the financial advice industry, whether that be a stockbroker or a RIA*

Are financial advisors worth the money?  Are they adding any value in investment selection?

In an article yesterday, pictured to the left, The Financial Times is asking the questions that American media and  our Department of Labor, tasked with regulating retirement plans, refuse to ask.  Whether it is a new unproven passive strategy, a mutual fund that is loaded with fees and poor performance or a financial advisor that overcharges you to select one of these high-fee mutual funds, it is long over-due for the US media to follow the media coverage lead of those across the “pond “. As this article states, ” The question financial advisors have to ask are the moral and ethical questions, as the Financial Times wrote:

“Asked by an audience member how asset managers could stop their reputation becoming as bad as that of estate agents and second-hand car salesmen, Mr Utermann said managers have to question whether they are delivering value for money to clients.”

 

The Goal of American Fiduciary Advisors is Singular:  Gather More Assets Under Management – Not Am I Adding Value

What value are financial advisors, for investment selection, delivering to American retirement investors, after all fees?

What is the primary focus of US financial intermediaries today?  A picture, below, is worth a thousand Screen Shot 2013-11-25 at 4.23.15 AMwords.  This is from an article in a trade journal for financial advisors, published last week.  The primary focus of the financial advice industry is to gather as many assets they can, at the lowest possible cost, and then see how much money that can charge the retirement investor, without the investor crying foul. “100 Billion or Bust”. It is just that simple.

Performance, after all fees is not relevant to advisors and advice firms.  They have never been held accountable. There are now trillions of dollars in 401(k) plans and IRA plans these financial advisors are salivating over and the smoothest salesmen or those with the best guerilla marketing plans, such as Dimensional Fund Advisors, are coming out the winners.  Your retirement performance, after all advisor fees, is never revealed by any of these “fiduciary” advisors.

Ironically, the new “passive” movement has yet to provide performance results, after all fees.  For example Dimensional Fund Advisors, charges 1 percent to purchase a predominantly passive strategy.  Hint:  If you pay one percent to buy an “index” your performance is one percent below the index.

When you buy a car or a house, there are “lemon laws” and home inspections, documenting all the potential pitfalls of what you may be buying.  You can comparison shop online for cars.  You have full transparency. The new breed “online advisors” believe they are above full transparency and because they are not placing you in high-fee mutual funds, their new-fangled service must be better.  You must trust their computer model and their theories, even though many academics have proven them wrong.

Are these new services any better?  Unless, they can provide you with at a minimum a five year past performance history, based on their model, after all fees, including theirs, and you can then compare their results to comparable top performing active or passive managers, who can provide 5 – 20 year history, why would you run the risk of selecting underperformance over a proven strategy?

Car Salesmen and Real Estate Agents Have Full Transparency

Buyer beware, these new breed “advisors” should not be compared to real estate agents or car salesmen—at least there you know what you are paying for and have full transparency.  The financial advice industry is far worse. There is no transparency or accountability for performance after all fees.

At Not On My Nickel, we are not a stockbroker or a financial advisor.  We are the first and only independent financial education and research service that gives you the tools to compare the value of your traditional advisor or the new-fangled passive strategies to the proven portfolio managers that have outperformed indices for decades, after all fees.  We have run the numbers.  Not On My Nickel researched portfolio managers outperform the new-fangled passive modern portfolio theory computer models, after all fees every time. Yes, you are also diversified and the portfolio managers, human beings, do the rebalancing for you, not a computer model.

There are not many portfolio managers that have-outperformed- but why not invest with them if your performance far out performs, after all fees?  Who are these active or passive portfolio managers, you can easily access directly without paying an advisor 1 -2 percent?

*RIA is the term for a SEC registered investment advisor, who is supposedly held to the strict “fiduciary” standard in the Investment Advisers Act of 1940.

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