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Fiancial Advisor, Do you have one & if so, how do you cost justify?

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I have talked to (3) different financial advisors over the past 10 years, and I am never able to pull the trigger on hiring one.  Here is the typical scenario:
- They charge 1.25 to 1.5 % of your total asset base annually for their service
- They can't beat the market ( S&P 500 average)
- no guarantee on performance

So, I am always back to S&P Index fund for majority of my money  & keep some in money market to ride out the downturn.    Even if they could beat the market, they would have to  beat it  + their fee; otherwise, you're not better off.  Please share your strategy. 

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luvdoublebrats said:   I have talked to (3) different financial advisors over the past 10 years, and I am never able to pull the trigger on hiring one.  Here is the typical scenario:
- They charge 1.25 to 1.5 % of your total asset base annually for their service
- They can't beat the market ( S&P 500 average)
- no guarantee on performance

So, I am always back to S&P Index fund for majority of my money  & keep some in money market to ride out the downturn.    Even if they could beat the market, they would have to  beat it  + their fee; otherwise, you're not better off.  Please share your strategy. 

  If a financial advisor implemented strategies that consistently beat the S&P, he wouldn't need his job for long.

If you must try one, consider Vanguard's financial advisor services.  They charge 0.30%.

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Do you really need ongoing services of a financial advisor? Can you do with an occasional consultation for a fixed fee and then take care of ongoing maintenance of your investments yourself?
What is the approx. value of your portfolio? The fee percentage can be negotiated to be lower at higher portfolio values.

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The good stock pickers end up retired or running hedge funds.  Most of the advisors these days add value by helping your select a risk-appropriate allocation of stocks and bonds, holding your hand if you're scared of investments, and helping with a little tax planning.  If you don't need those services, they aren't worth much.

There are no guarantees when it comes to stock investments.  If you want guarantees, buy a CD or a bond.  If you want a good investment manager who earns you more than they charge by beating the market, you have to be good at assessing asset managers (many are poor or lucky) and be rich enough the SEC will allow you to invest with them ("accredited" or "qualified").  Even then, you usually have to recognize the good ones early on before they either stop taking outside money, start charging higher fees, or end up with so many assets that their net performance is no longer much better the market.

that said, I've got a little money with a few alternative investment managers, but mostly I just manage it myself.

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It's not easy to find a financial adviser that will not just throw you into mutual funds that charge you another 1% or so in annual fees, for a total of over 2% per year if you believe they reveal all of your expenses. (I don't.)

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For strategies that require complete liquidity and participation in public securities (i.e. stock market, ETFs, mutual funds) you could probably stick with some homegrown strategy or use a tool like WiseBanyan, Schwab Intelligent or Wealthfront to set up a portfolio and rebalance it once or twice a year.

Advisors are useful for access to longer-term less-liquid deals that don't typically hit the public market. For example, a real estate investment with preferred returns but very little liquidity, a collection of oil wells or pipelines in Dakotas or Oklahoma, etc.

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JavaCoder said:   For strategies that require complete liquidity and participation in public securities (i.e. stock market, ETFs, mutual funds) you could probably stick with some homegrown strategy or use a tool like WiseBanyan, Schwab Intelligent or Wealthfront to set up a portfolio and rebalance it once or twice a year.

Advisors are useful for access to longer-term less-liquid deals that don't typically hit the public market. For example, a real estate investment with preferred returns but very little liquidity, a collection of oil wells or pipelines in Dakotas or Oklahoma, etc.

From what I've learned, there are essentially 3 ways to generate wealth in America.  
- Start your own business: Diversification goes out the window, and there's a high risk of failure, but effort/skill is as important as access to capital in amplifying returns
- Buy exposure to the US stock market. Buy the Vanguard/Fidelity/Schwab fund, and get the average return for a well run business that's efficiently valued.
- Buy Real Estate: Buy a inefficiently valued property, improve/repurpose it to make it more attractive, and w/ ammortization/depreciation the cash flow acts like a muni bond.

Advisors don't have the skin in the game; and most of the private deals they will give you access to have outsized risk you can't quantify, unless you become a specialist.
Even then they really only make sense as outlier investments, as it's very hard to be diversified in nitch fields.
As an example, for hard money deals, 12-14% notes secured by first mortgages are relatively common, and can be held inside a Roth IRA; just make sure the IRA has the assets to pay an attorney to foreclose, and time to sell to another.

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JavaCoder said: Advisors are useful for access to longer-term less-liquid deals that don't typically hit the public market. For example, a real estate investment with preferred returns but very little liquidity, a collection of oil wells or pipelines in Dakotas or Oklahoma, etc.

I am a fairly experienced investor, and I wouldn't touch these types of deals with a ten-foot pole.  Too illiquid for starters.

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xerty said:   The good stock pickers end up retired or running hedge funds.  Most of the advisors these days add value by helping your select a risk-appropriate allocation of stocks and bonds, holding your hand if you're scared of investments, and helping with a little tax planning.  If you don't need those services, they aren't worth much.

There are no guarantees when it comes to stock investments.  If you want guarantees, buy a CD or a bond.  If you want a good investment manager who earns you more than they charge by beating the market, you have to be good at assessing asset managers (many are poor or lucky) and be rich enough the SEC will allow you to invest with them ("accredited" or "qualified").  Even then, you usually have to recognize the good ones early on before they either stop taking outside money, start charging higher fees, or end up with so many assets that their net performance is no longer much better the market.

that said, I've got a little money with a few alternative investment managers, but mostly I just manage it myself.

  
I agree with the tax planning. It would make sense if "they earned their keep" with tax savings+ filing .  I wish Vanguard or USAA would offer tax planning+ filing. Any recommendations for such an "all in one" service? 

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Hell no, I don't use a FA. I guess we did recently get an indirect pitch from one, part of a seminar with a free dinner at a place we like. But mostly, I am not even interested in getting an introductory proposal from one. I'm convinced that indexing is better in the long run, and the lazier you are, the better you'll be at it.

I guess I'd have some interest in tax strategies that seem to be applicable, but I feel like I have a decent understanding of that too. The seminar above was mostly about preparing for the taxpocalypse with insurance products, and I'm just not interested in betting so heavily on that (not to mention their particular number fudging, as you might expect).

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SlimTim said:   Hell no, I don't use a FA. I guess we did recently get an indirect pitch from one, part of a seminar with a free dinner at a place we like. But mostly, I am not even interested in getting an introductory proposal from one. I'm convinced that indexing is better in the long run, and the lazier you are, the better you'll be at it.

I guess I'd have some interest in tax strategies that seem to be applicable, but I feel like I have a decent understanding of that too. The seminar above was mostly about preparing for the taxpocalypse with insurance products, and I'm just not interested in betting so heavily on that (not to mention their particular number fudging, as you might expect).

  Great idea=seminar with a free dinner+ then do it yourself if the strategy makes sense. Unless they have some unique product that Vanguard/USAA doesn't (not likely)

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If you're on the fence, avoid the "free" dinner. If you sign up, it will end up costing you a LOT more than a steak at a fancy restaurant.

OP, I think you've figured it out. They can't guarantee they'll beat the market, they want you to pay them 1.5% (plus another 1.5% in mutual funs ERs) to maybe hopefully do as well as an index fund, minus fees.

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"If you're so financially smart why are you wasting your time advising schmucks like me?"

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No, but due to a windfall I have been considering www.daretobedull.com. I just want someone to look over my plan once and make sure I am not missing anything. I also need to do the same with a parent now that they are managing everything on their own.

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If you need a comprehensive financial plan, go with a fee only financial planner. You can find one through the Garrett Network: http://www.garrettplanningnetwork.com/
A comprehensive plan will run you around $3K-5K and cover many issues such as insurance, trusts and will advice, investment mix, examination of your whole situation and life plan etc. 

For investment management you have several options. Wealthfront, FutureAdvisor, Betterment... all these will actively manage your money for a fraction of a percentage point and invest in very low fee index funds. One important differentiator between a low cost self managed index portfolio and one of these roboadvisors is their active tax loss harvesting. Especially with the volatility we have seen in the past few years, a good roboadvisor will take advantage of steep dips in the market to immediately lock in the new lows and harvest the tax losses, while keeping you invested in the right asset allocation. This makes a huge difference in practice. Funds will not do that on autopilot. 

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Vanguard will do a one-time plan for free for Voyager Select customers $500,000+. Their reco will be 100% index funds, very simple to then tweak it.

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The people here aren't their customer base. FWF are pretty good with DIYing their finances. There are people who have no clue what an index fund is, or have any idea explaining what the S&P 500 or NYSE are. No idea what types of investments are available, asset allocation, and diversification mean. Equities? Bonds? CDs? REITS? Smart, wealthy people. They also don't really have an inclination to learn, and would rather hire this part of their life out. It may seem silly to you, but it may seem silly to them if you hire a plumber to fix a clogged drain. Or hire someone to cut your grass.

I personally would get little-to-no value out of the fee a Financial Advisor would charge me, but that doesn't mean nobody would.

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I would say that if your the majority of your money is in the S&P 500 then some advice on a one time basis might be in order.

The US market is about 35-40% of world stock assets. So by being limited to the USA you are actually increasing your asset risk.
If one were to use a capital asset pricing model about 30% of your portfolio should be outside the US (not including multinationals based in the US).

there are several basic free asset allocators on the internet.

I agree no need to pay an adviser.

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I think it's a tall task for any FA to earn their 1-1.5% AIM commission. Consistently beating the market by that much takes very good skills and very active management. If they sell you mutual funds, they're not gonna beat the market consistently. AI roboadviser could be worth its extra cost if reasonable but that's about it. But you'd have to see consistent performance gains vs. its costs. 0.25% or so could be worth it but not sure a lot more than that.

Only thing the FAs really help with is preventing people from doing the usual buy high sell low, trying to time market, and other self-inflicted wounds, and for rebalancing their portfolios regularly. Personally, I don't need this level of hand-holding for the typical fees.

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luvdoublebrats said:   Fiancial Advisor
  Learning how to spell financial advisor should be a prerequisite to hiring one.

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haha, right you are!  I can't spell to save my soul!, thanks for pointing it out, I will see if I can correct it 

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I think for the most part, you need them for asset allocation & maybe re-balancing once a year. The problem is once you build a sizable portfolio - let's say you have $500K - why on earth would you pay them $5K/year in additional fees? Especially now that you have so many robo engine that does the allocation for much cheaper. I would say probably make sense to get one with flat fee.

I used to have one for 1% ... but while back i got rid of him. He did okay, nothing too special. Just didn't think it was worth paying 1%.

For people who are absolutely clueless with investing/finance - may be it makes sense to pay someone 1%.

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In addition to what is said about the financial benefits there are social considerations. At a high net worth a financial advisor or a wealth management firm is a status symbol. Going to a golf outing or a christmas dinner is about being part of a different social circle. Kind of like a country club.

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johnstarks13 said:   ~~It may seem silly to you, but it may seem silly to them if you hire a plumber to fix a clogged drain. Or hire someone to cut your grass.
 

 Come on.  this is FWF...

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gnopgnip said:   In addition to what is said about the financial benefits there are social considerations. At a high net worth a financial advisor or a wealth management firm is a status symbol. Going to a golf outing or a christmas dinner is about being part of a different social circle. Kind of like a country club.
While this may have been true once, I would put this in the same category of getting an AMEX charge card, or the luxury auto dealer that just soaked you while giving your wife a tour of the back seat. 
The thing that separates the noble FWFer from our vainglorous cousins with their unsustainable standard of living, is our humility in our status symbols.

We show up in a Crown Victoria Interceptor, charm the banker into giving us a six figure credit line on our rewards cc, and empty his candy Dish on the way out.
We buy the non-performing debt of their profligate customers for pennies on the dollar like scavengers while the bad debt destroys their Basil III leverage ratios on their balance sheets.
We are the living embodiment of "perverse intensives", and we take no brook with people who wear a better suit or without skin in the game.

A Chase customer gets a free sucker, so a Goldman Sachs customer should get a free muppet. It's the American way.

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Yep, I'm a perverse intensive looking for perverse incentives.

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I have a financial advisor with Personal Capital.  Peace of mind and increased gains (over my gains) justified it.  Also, they give me free advice for our TSP accounts.  I just don't have the time to manage my own money with both of us being full stride in the middle of our full time careers, two kids, two dogs, activities, etc.  I know you can just put all your $ in index funds and let it ride, but I feel better not having to worry about market volatility.  I let someone else worry for me. 

It's not worth it to a lot of people and I get that.  I don't disagree with those who do it themselves.  I used to, but not anymore. 

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RailroadTrack said:   ....  I let someone else worry for me. 
 

  Trust me, he doesn't worry about your money.

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walkerbait said:   
RailroadTrack said:   ....  I let someone else worry for me. 
  Trust me, he doesn't worry about your money.

  
No, but I'm sure he worries about the collective pot of $$ he manages because it affects his pockets, too.  No matter.  I don't have to worry about it when it's being managed for me. 

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RailroadTrack said:   I have a financial advisor with Personal Capital.  Peace of mind and increased gains (over my gains) justified it.  Also, they give me free advice for our TSP accounts.  I just don't have the time to manage my own money with both of us being full stride in the middle of our full time careers, two kids, two dogs, activities, etc.  I know you can just put all your $ in index funds and let it ride, but I feel better not having to worry about market volatility.  I let someone else worry for me. 

It's not worth it to a lot of people and I get that.  I don't disagree with those who do it themselves.  I used to, but not anymore. 

I think most folks on FWF would be more worried with someone else in charge of their money.

True story - In 2006 or early 2007, I had a FA I trusted really push auction rate securities on me so I could get a higher interest rate on my cash. I told him I didn't invest in anything I didn't understand, so no thank you. Normally, this guy would have been fine with whatever decision I made and wouldn't get pushy with me. He was insistent that this was the right place to earn some extra interest risk-free and told me I was making a mistake. Well, we all know how that turned out.

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RailroadTrack said:   
walkerbait said:   
RailroadTrack said:   ....  I let someone else worry for me. 
  Trust me, he doesn't worry about your money.

  
No, but I'm sure he worries about the collective pot of $$ he manages because it affects his pockets, too.  No matter.  I don't have to worry about it when it's being managed for me. 

Not as much as you think. Early in his career he's focused on acquiring accounts. He makes a lot more money by bringing on new $1MM clients than he does by growing your portfolio by 0.5% more than the S&P so he focuses way more on the former. Then, when he's making $500K/yr and his minimum account size is $1MM, he starts handing off his sub-$1MM to subordinates, comes in to the office 1 or 2 days a week and takes 8 weeks off in the summer.

If I moved my account to Personal Capital now, I'd be paying a five figure fee just for the money I already have in my investment accounts. I can't imagine something that the Personal Capital advisor would be doing to earn that since I saved and grew the money without his help.

Don't get me wrong, I think FA are helpful for people who don't have any interest in understanding finance. But, when people say they don't have time, that's what I don't understand. I spend less than 10 hours/year managing my money (mostly rebalancing) and if you told me I had to cut that down to 3 hours, I could do it.

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BostonOne said:   RailroadTrack said:   
walkerbait said:   
RailroadTrack said:   ....  I let someone else worry for me. 
  Trust me, he doesn't worry about your money.

  
No, but I'm sure he worries about the collective pot of $$ he manages because it affects his pockets, too.  No matter.  I don't have to worry about it when it's being managed for me. 

Not as much as you think. Early in his career he's focused on acquiring accounts. He makes a lot more money by bringing on new $1MM clients than he does by growing your portfolio by 0.5% more than the S&P so he focuses way more on the former. Then, when he's making $500K/yr and his minimum account size is $1MM, he starts handing off his sub-$1MM to subordinates, comes in to the office 1 or 2 days a week and takes 8 weeks off in the summer.

If I moved my account to Personal Capital now, I'd be paying a five figure fee just for the money I already have in my investment accounts. I can't imagine something that the Personal Capital advisor would be doing to earn that since I saved and grew the money without his help.

Don't get me wrong, I think FA are helpful for people who don't have any interest in understanding finance. But, when people say they don't have time, that's what I don't understand. I spend less than 10 hours/year managing my money (mostly rebalancing) and if you told me I had to cut that down to 3 hours, I could do it.


I think you're missing that most people don't have an interest in investment/portfolio management, so they don't want to make the initial time investment to learn about it. Most on this forum are generally interested in this stuff, so reading about it is easy and we learn a lot. Once you have a base knowledge, it's easy to spend 10 hours a year on it and that's it, because a simple index portfolio beats managed funds a very very high percentage of the time.

To be clear, I do not think a FA based on a fee of investments is a good idea. But a fee-only advisor can be money very well spent depending on the individual. Even for us DIYers, a checkup with an accountant who is knowledgeable about personal finance/investment or a well qualified financial advisor every 5-10 years may not be a bad idea. Just to make sure we aren't missing something easy.

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walkerbait said:   
BostonOne said:   
RailroadTrack said:   
walkerbait said:   
RailroadTrack said:   ....  I let someone else worry for me. 
  Trust me, he doesn't worry about your money.

  
No, but I'm sure he worries about the collective pot of $$ he manages because it affects his pockets, too.  No matter.  I don't have to worry about it when it's being managed for me. 

Not as much as you think. Early in his career he's focused on acquiring accounts. He makes a lot more money by bringing on new $1MM clients than he does by growing your portfolio by 0.5% more than the S&P so he focuses way more on the former. Then, when he's making $500K/yr and his minimum account size is $1MM, he starts handing off his sub-$1MM to subordinates, comes in to the office 1 or 2 days a week and takes 8 weeks off in the summer.

If I moved my account to Personal Capital now, I'd be paying a five figure fee just for the money I already have in my investment accounts. I can't imagine something that the Personal Capital advisor would be doing to earn that since I saved and grew the money without his help.

Don't get me wrong, I think FA are helpful for people who don't have any interest in understanding finance. But, when people say they don't have time, that's what I don't understand. I spend less than 10 hours/year managing my money (mostly rebalancing) and if you told me I had to cut that down to 3 hours, I could do it.


I think you're missing that most people don't have an interest in investment/portfolio management, so they don't want to make the initial time investment to learn about it. Most on this forum are generally interested in this stuff, so reading about it is easy and we learn a lot. Once you have a base knowledge, it's easy to spend 10 hours a year on it and that's it, because a simple index portfolio beats managed funds a very very high percentage of the time.

To be clear, I do not think a FA based on a fee of investments is a good idea. But a fee-only advisor can be money very well spent depending on the individual. Even for us DIYers, a checkup with an accountant who is knowledgeable about personal finance/investment or a well qualified financial advisor every 5-10 years may not be a bad idea. Just to make sure we aren't missing something easy.

I've explained to several people how easy it is to set up and maintain a two or three fund lazy portfolio. They literally cannot believe it's that easy and dismiss my advice.
For the ones who have taken the advice, it took them about 30 minutes to gain the majority of knowledge they will need for their accumulation phase.

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Financial Advisor or Financial Adviser?

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BostonOne said:   
I've explained to several people how easy it is to set up and maintain a two or three fund lazy portfolio. They literally cannot believe it's that easy and dismiss my advice.
For the ones who have taken the advice, it took them about 30 minutes to gain the majority of knowledge they will need for their accumulation phase.


I totally agree, but I think you underestimate the impact of estate and tax planning considerations for those who have no idea. A 3-fund is a great plan, but do they choose Roth or traditional? When do they make the switch, if ever? Is a 529 plan worthwhile? Do they need term life insurance? How much? Do they have their beneficiaries set correctly in their accounts? Are their accounts the correct type (joint vs individual)? And on it goes.

Again -- for the typical FWFer and DIYer, this is easy. But for those who don't care or simply don't know what they don't know (majority in my experience), a good fee-only advisor who emphasizes a 2 or 3-fund index portfolio for the investment piece can be money well spent that actually has a measurable return on investment. Not everyone has the benefit of having you or someone like you explain to them for 30 min how to set up an easy investment plan.

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walkerbait said:   
BostonOne said:   
I've explained to several people how easy it is to set up and maintain a two or three fund lazy portfolio. They literally cannot believe it's that easy and dismiss my advice.
For the ones who have taken the advice, it took them about 30 minutes to gain the majority of knowledge they will need for their accumulation phase.


I totally agree, but I think you underestimate the impact of estate and tax planning considerations for those who have no idea. A 3-fund is a great plan, but do they choose Roth or traditional? When do they make the switch, if ever? Is a 529 plan worthwhile? Do they need term life insurance? How much? Do they have their beneficiaries set correctly in their accounts? Are their accounts the correct type (joint vs individual)? And on it goes.

Again -- for the typical FWFer and DIYer, this is easy. But for those who don't care or simply don't know what they don't know (majority in my experience), a good fee-only advisor who emphasizes a 2 or 3-fund index portfolio for the investment piece can be money well spent that actually has a measurable return on investment. Not everyone has the benefit of having you or someone like you explain to them for 30 min how to set up an easy investment plan.

  We can agree on the fee-only advisor's initial plan, and even the value of hand-holding during volatility. But in my experience, the advisor will just punt IRA questions to the "tax professional". 
In fact the only place I can find that will do a Roth Conversion optimization recommendation is the free i-ORP.

The very sad bit is less then 70% of Americans have $1000 in savings, and couldn't use the 30 minute investment plan, even if they got it.

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walkerbait said:   
BostonOne said:   
I've explained to several people how easy it is to set up and maintain a two or three fund lazy portfolio. They literally cannot believe it's that easy and dismiss my advice.
For the ones who have taken the advice, it took them about 30 minutes to gain the majority of knowledge they will need for their accumulation phase.


I totally agree, but I think you underestimate the impact of estate and tax planning considerations for those who have no idea. A 3-fund is a great plan, but do they choose Roth or traditional? When do they make the switch, if ever? Is a 529 plan worthwhile? Do they need term life insurance? How much? Do they have their beneficiaries set correctly in their accounts? Are their accounts the correct type (joint vs individual)? And on it goes.

Again -- for the typical FWFer and DIYer, this is easy. But for those who don't care or simply don't know what they don't know (majority in my experience), a good fee-only advisor who emphasizes a 2 or 3-fund index portfolio for the investment piece can be money well spent that actually has a measurable return on investment. Not everyone has the benefit of having you or someone like you explain to them for 30 min how to set up an easy investment plan.

I've said multiple times that I think an advisor is the right choice for many people. I was just making the specific point that if someone is interested in doing it themselves, they can do it without a ton of time & effort. If someone is not interested in doing it themselves, they shouldn't.

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I had a FA and he sounded like an honest guy and I thought I was doing good with him until I realized that I was paying him more than he was actually earning me! And when I asked him about that he got offended and did not want to deal with me anymore. I was more than happy to oblige!

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Thanks everyone! It sounds like most of you are DIYers when it comes to managing your investments. If you are doing anything other than using an index fund, and reallocating annually(and keeping some in cash(i.e. money market)to ride out the downturns in the stock market for people near retirement), please tell us what else you're doing. I am sincerely interested, and want to make sure I am not missing anything.

Skipping 25 Messages...
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Quikboy4 said:   So my grandmother passed away in 2013, and left me a bit of cash and stock. My aunt, the executor of her estate, worked with her Edward Jones advisor to handle the distributions. The EJ guy was trying to get all of my family on as clients, and as I had never spoken to an advisor before, I had a 20 minute phone conference with him where he laid out his general strategies and cost structure. He essentially wanted 5% annually to manage my "portfolio". He sent over some literature which I read through to make sure I wasn't missing anything about his services. On a follow up call, I told him that I was going to continue self-managing, and was going to be moving the money over to my vanguard account. He got angry pretty quickly, insulting the "simplistic approach of index funds" and even refused to answer questions about withdrawing my funds. I understand that EJ may be the extreme case, but I couldn't imagine any service he was capable of providing would benefit me in any way.
  
He was upset because he couldn't help himself to 5% of your assets every year and how dare you question his ability. I could see giving them a percentage of the return on investments, if they don't make you money they don't make money is fair. If they make you 10% on your million dollars then 5% of your return would be a fair amount netting them $5k.

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