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How To Find The Right Financial Pro


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#1 Admin

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Posted 21 January 2014 - 01:13 PM

Good summary of various financial professionals from Daily Worth:

 

Excerpt:

CFP. A Certified Financial Planner has earned professional certification from the U.S.-based Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards or one of its international counterparts. To use the designation, a financial planner must meet education, examination, experience and ethics requirements, as well as pay an ongoing certification fee. You might consider hiring a professional with the CFP designation if you are looking for someone to manage your investments or assist you with financial planning. (In order to sell securities, the professional must have a FINRA license.)

 

CRPC. A Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor has completed a study course and examination from the College for Financial Planning and has in-depth knowledge of retirement planning. These professionals are trained in various sources of retirement income, retirement cash flow, asset management, estate planning and other related topics.
 
RIA. A Registered Investment Advisor is an investment advisor who is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission or a state’s securities agency. RIAs are held to a fiduciary standard, meaning “they must put the needs of their clients above their own,” Gabrielsen says. “They must put their clients in what they believe to be the best and lowest cost investments, regardless of how it impacts the advisor.” Other advisors, such as those on the broker-dealer or insurance sides of the business, are held to a suitability standard, which means they are allowed to sell a client a product that benefits the advisor as long as it is also suitable for the client’s needs. Professionals with the CFP, CRPC or other designations will be held to a fiduciary standard if they work at a RIA firm.

 

click here to read entire story.

---

Dan Otter

 

 



#2 sschullo

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Posted 21 January 2014 - 08:18 PM

Garrett and NAPFA professional organizations have many RIAs who can only charge fee-only, with some exceptions for assets under management (AUM). We should avoid all advisers who insist on AUMs, pay them the hourly one time fee like all other professions.


Steve Schullo

Author and Co-Author of two books:

1. Late Bloomer Millionaires: A Financial Story and Investment Guide for the Late Starter (2013)

2. Fighting Powerful Interests: Educators Challenge Tax-sheltered Annuities and WIN! (2015)


#3 Admin

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Posted 10 June 2014 - 09:14 PM

403(b) resources:

 

 

Advisor Questionnaire

 

Downloadable Advisor Fiduciary Pledge



#4 davegrant82

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Posted 03 July 2014 - 01:48 PM

Steve,

 

Disclaimer: I'm a NAPFA advisor who works solely with educators.

 

I'm going to challenge you on your AUM and hourly statement. While I believe that the AUM structure is inappropriate for a number in educators, it can serve a purpose if an educator is married to a non-educator.

 

I don't follow that fee structure but work by the hour, and most popular with clients, by retainer. Clients find it helpful that they know they have unlimited access to me and it costs them a set monthly charge. Hourly is appropriate in some situations, but charges can increase quickly if a lot of the advisors time is needed on various projects.

 

Respectfully,

Dave Grant, CFP®



#5 sschullo

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Posted 04 July 2014 - 11:57 AM

Hi Dave,

Don't have to be so formal around here.  But I thought I would try it for a laughs. :-) Guess it would go something like the following:

 

Disclaimer: I am a retired educator, not a financial pro, but write personal finance books, write a blog, twitter, FB accounts and serve on my district's retirement oversight committee for ten years. With Dan Otter and other colleagues I have been an advocate for reforming 403b plans for 20 years and encouraging educators to do it yourself. That said, I have questions:

 

What is your retainer charge?

What is your AUM charge for the "educator married to a noneducator?"

Do you charge both a retainer and AUM?

Is there a situation where you would only charge an hourly fee?

What is your view of the HBO Frontline broadcast: The Retirement Gamble?

 

Respectfully,

Steve Schullo, PhD


Steve Schullo

Author and Co-Author of two books:

1. Late Bloomer Millionaires: A Financial Story and Investment Guide for the Late Starter (2013)

2. Fighting Powerful Interests: Educators Challenge Tax-sheltered Annuities and WIN! (2015)


#6 davegrant82

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Posted 07 July 2014 - 12:36 PM

Steve - being formal is my British nature. Being new to the forums, I plan to earn my way up to "playful banter" status!

 

Thank you for all you do for teachers across the country - looking forward to reading your new book in its entirety when released.

 

To answer your questions:

 - My retainer varies based on the complexity of a situation and the amount of assets involved (which can drive complexity). Many of my clients fit into my base retainer of $200/mo which provides unlimited access over the year and a full comprehensive plan. However I do have some clients whose annual retainer is closer to $1,000/mo.

 - My fees are purely hourly and retainer, so no AUM fee comes into play. However, depending on the situation, an "educator and non-educator" situation can take more time to plan than two educators - so it may cost slightly more. Whatever the fee, I am a fiduciary, so provide options that are in the best interest of clients.

 - For most clients, I provide detailed instructions on their investments, in terms of allocation, where to hold accounts, what funds/ETFs to use. This is done with the premise that the only things investors can control are investment costs (in terms of selection of products) and taxes (when to sell and how to take advantage of the current tax code). For clients who want specific investment advice throughout the year or have a portfolio that warrants professional management, I use an outside investment team who follow the same philosophy that I do, and charge a reasonable fee (0.25%-0.35% per year).

 - My view on The Retirement Gamble? Other than your staring role?! It highlighted lots of valid points that consumers face today and what is happening in the industry. Consumers needs lots of education to be aware of the choices they are making, and for some, they don't want to know this. Unfortunately, this puts them in a position to be taken advantage of. It would be great for our whole profession to move to a fiduciary model, but I don't see that happening anytime soon.

 

Dave



#7 sschullo

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Posted 08 July 2014 - 02:32 PM

Dave,

thanks for your response. It is rare for any professional to comment on these boards because we teachers essentially run it with our keen eyes always, ALWAYS looking for costs and genuine growth potential investments. We are looking out for our bests interests.

 

Just some comments. The amount of assets of teachers should not drive complexity. Around here we thrive to KIS. We are talking about your time and the simpler the work the least amount of time you have to spend, the cheaper the investments and the more money in our pocket.

 

Your costs and investment costs are crucial if at the end of the day, do people have growth throughout their working career that beats inflation and enough to pay taxes in a tax deferred account? Those costs could break it. Even a fiduciary financial adviser may not be reasonable enough for some clients. Those folks that don't want to do anything are charged the $1000 per month fee, I assume. Right? According to the regs, if the investments don't kick back money to you, you are a fiduciary. It seems to me that $1000 per month year after year is a great deal of money with just one part of costs which doesn't include your hourly fee and mutual fund, ETF or index costs. It is sad to say that for those unfortunate folks who want you to do it all, they really are not served as well as they should, IMO. The current system, fiduciary or not, requires investors to be involved and involved quite a bit.

 

I asked about the "Retirement Gamble" because just about the only professional organization that liked it was the National Association of Personal Financial Advisers, click for press release.

 

Below I have calculated what two hypothetical clients of yours would pay for managing a portfolio (not talking about estate managing).

Is the following about right?

 

For one year service for a $100,000 portfolio could the fees could range like this between two of your clients:

1. Responsible client. one that just needs psychological help when the market acts up and perhaps some re balancing.

$200 per month = $2400 per year.

1 hour per quarter + 4 hours times $250 another $1000

Cost of the investments: 50 basis points times 100,000 = $500

 

Total for responsible client: About $4000 per year on $100,000 hypothetical portfolio

Just to stay even the client must earn a return of 4.0%.

 

Adviser "does it all" for client # 2,

Same $100,000 portfolio

$1000 per month: $12000 per year

3 hours per quarter: $3000 per year, more time to bring client up to date.

Same low cost investments, etfs, index funds: $500

Total costs: $15,500 per year.

 

Client's #2 fees are off the chart! Such client will continue to lose money. My calculations must be incorrect, but you did say $1000 a month right? Can you explain?

 

By comparison, we have a 7 figure portfolio and pay about $3000 per year in total costs. We do it ourselves.

 

Thx,

Steve


Steve Schullo

Author and Co-Author of two books:

1. Late Bloomer Millionaires: A Financial Story and Investment Guide for the Late Starter (2013)

2. Fighting Powerful Interests: Educators Challenge Tax-sheltered Annuities and WIN! (2015)


#8 davegrant82

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Posted 18 July 2014 - 09:42 AM

Steve,

 

Thanks for the response. I would disagree that the amount of assets don't drive complexity. When assets increase, so do the opportunities in income tax planning, asset location (where to put certain types of investments) estate planning, and charitable giving. It's also important to note that mistakes made when investment assets are larger, are larger in dollar value and can be more damaging to a long-term plan. Therefore, paying a planner to keep those mistakes away can be cheaper than making the mistakes themselves.

 

The calculations that you have posed are not correct. My retainer covers the work I do throughout the year. All clients on a retainer model get a comprehensive financial plan, which gets updated and reviewed every year, and unlimited contact to me throughout the year. For an initial year and depending on complexity, the plan itself can take 15-25 hours to complete (hourly billing: $3,000 - $5,000). A review can take between 10-20 hours depending on what is involved. When clients are on retainer, they save costs versus an hourly model when they are done with the full plan, and then have 9 months of unlimited access to me throughout the year. The retainer agreement simply spreads the cost of this payment throughout the year making it easier to pay. I talk to clients every couple of months, but you're right, I may not do any planning work some months. That is similar to all professional retainer relationships though (lawyer, etc.)

 

In response to your fee calculations:

 

A client with a $100,000 portfolio would fall under a $2,400 retainer model. All work, not just investment work, is covered for this price. Investments I recommend are ETFs (where applicable), and index funds inside 403(b)s. The most expensive I suggest is 0.5%, but most fall in the 0.1-0.3% ($300) per year.

 

Using your example, the client would have to earn 2.7% ($2,700) to break even with my fees. However, my advice doesn't just cover investments - it covers daily cash flow management, insurance, estate planning, other retirement planning issues, employee benefit selections, estate planning, and income tax planning. Many clients find we save money in these areas as well.

 

Your second example isn't correct. A $1,000 per month retainer will be paid by a client who has between $3,000,000-$4,000,000 in assets to do a comprehensive plan every year and have unlimited access to me. The risks involved with making mistakes in this plan, and should they be made, are magnified given the size of the portfolio. Additionally, this type of client finds themselves with lots of emotional issues as they have more money than know what to do with, so there are lots of relational and behavioral discussion that have to take place. These conversations take time, hence why the retainer goes up.

 

A client with a $1,000,000-$2,000,000 portfolio would pay $500/mo for this service.

 

I hope this clears things up! Thanks for hashing it out with me.

 

Dave



#9 sschullo

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Posted 19 July 2014 - 04:37 PM

Hi Dave,
Let's review for a second. Your original challenge was that you disagreed with me just paying you by the hour. Yet, you said that you did not charge an AUM but you do charge by the hour, "It is appropriate in some situations." I was talking just about that "situation".

 

Retainer sounds to me like another AUM as you said that your charges might go up with the complexities of the plan and the higher the assets because you give more time. Looks like another form of an AUM. Just because its popular dosen't mean it is in the best interests of clients. It has been so natural for decades for clients not to know what they are paying. We all know why, the financial industry wants it that way.  It's time to turn off this "popular" spigot.

Given that you charge by the hour, I was talking with other like minded people who frequent this forum who want another look at their portfolio. I suggested that they negotiate with a planner and just pay the hourly fee, like all other professions. Sounds like to me you would work with that individual and only charge your hourly fee. Why the challenge when we agree?

 

Let's be clear, we are NOT talking about all of the other stuff you do, estate planning, insurance taxes, cash flow (cash flow! what the heck type of people do you work with. We teachers are already frugal by nature, and so are engineers). As a side question, I was told by one of my readers that a NAPFA adviser turned him away because he only wanted to pay the hourly rate. This adviser is a member of NAPFA and said to my reader that "most advisers will not work with you like that." Do you think that adviser is exercising fiduciary responsibility by refusing to work with somebody that only wants you to spend a couple of hours looking over his or her portfolio?

 

Regarding complications. You fall into the pattern of finances more complicated than it really is. Of course, estate planning, taxes, insurance and "cash flow" (still wondering about that) make the overall financial picture much more complicated than it really is. I believe that if people only learned how to manage their portfolio without an adviser, all of those other financial issues would be a LOT less complicated. I can't imagine somebody else suggesting home, auto, earthquake, long term care and umbrella insurance. I am not talking about any of that. How much time does it really take to put together a 4-7 fund portfolio comprised of index or etfs no matter what the size of the portfolio from a few tens of thousands to millions. It's all the same really, adjust the fixed allocation by ones age and you are done. If you are using index and ETFs why should we pay for additional "professional management" of .25% to .35%? It's superfluous, not to mention that managers increase the risk and the returns are not concomitantly increased. 

 

The bottom line is that I still like the advisers at Garrett and NAFPA. But the one clear advantage is that no commissions are charged, which is a huge in the 403b world where millions of commissions are spent year after year. Investing philosophies (passive or active) and responding to all people who are asking for help by being more open to the hourly fee need to be known further. Letting people go because the adviser wants them on retainer is NOT looking out for that client's best interest. Fee only is developing into an hourly fee which I have always said was a compromise answer for people who want help. The retainer and professional management fees raise the fees higher. Will the fees be so high that the tax deferment benefit feature be moot?

 

I have never had a problem with the hourly fee. There are unintended (or indented) consequence, IMO, the retainer makes people dependent, whereas the hourly fee incentives people into learning to do this themselves. Clients can clearly see what they are paying and just like any other bill, people will strive to reduce it or make it go away. And that is always good for the client. Sometimes the unpopular thing is a good thing for clients and they just might thank you later.

 

Have a great day,

Steve


Steve Schullo

Author and Co-Author of two books:

1. Late Bloomer Millionaires: A Financial Story and Investment Guide for the Late Starter (2013)

2. Fighting Powerful Interests: Educators Challenge Tax-sheltered Annuities and WIN! (2015)


#10 sschullo

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Posted 19 July 2014 - 04:47 PM

Dave,

Another question, as a fiduciary, what would you say to a young ex-teacher who is thinking of taking out his or her pension plan contributions and rolling it over into an IRA because they think they can get a better return than the pension and a higher benefit when he or she retires in 30 years? This person is vested.


Steve Schullo

Author and Co-Author of two books:

1. Late Bloomer Millionaires: A Financial Story and Investment Guide for the Late Starter (2013)

2. Fighting Powerful Interests: Educators Challenge Tax-sheltered Annuities and WIN! (2015)


#11 davegrant82

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Posted 19 July 2014 - 06:35 PM

Steve,

 

In your response to the first post, it wasn't clear that you were talking about a portfolio review, but you said "We should avoid all advisers who insist on AUMs, pay them the hourly one time fee like all other professions". For a simple portfolio review, an hourly model does make sense, but for comprehensive planning, an hourly charge may work out be more expensive than other billing methods. If a client wanted to pay me by the hour for a full review and mutliple sessions throughout the year, that is their perogative, but they would spend more money by doing that. 

 

When I mention managers - some people want a professional to review their account on a quarterly basis (something I don't do in my retainer agreement) and make trading / rebalancing decisions without them being involved. They also want to use funds that retail clients don't have access to (e.g. DFA or institutional holdings). Additionally, ,aybe they don't want to take the time and want to delegate, or they don't have time due to other commitments. Whatever the reason, they may want to pay a percentage of their assets for this service and that would be suitable if the percentage wasn't too high (1%+).

 

In regards to the ex-teacher, it depends on what they feel comfortable with. Do they want the security of a small pension, or would they prefer to invest their money? If they asked my opinion, I would move it to an IRA to control the situation and investment choices.

 

I think when it comes to investing and our finances, everyone is different and needs help in different ways. I try and design ways for people to pay who fall into different situations. I have clients who want to pay hourly and other who want to be on retainer. I ask them if they are aware of what they are signing up for and the differences in service, and they are. Regardless of how they pay and utilize my knowledge, I work with all clients to the same high standard.

 

But we may agree to disagree with some aspects of this discussion.....

 

Respectfully,

Dave



#12 sschullo

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Posted 20 July 2014 - 05:50 AM

Hi Dave, my responses are in red.

 

Steve,

 

In your response to the first post, it wasn't clear that you were talking about a portfolio review, but you said "We should avoid all advisers who insist on AUMs, pay them the hourly one time fee like all other professions". For a simple portfolio review, an hourly model does make sense, but for comprehensive planning, an hourly charge may work out be more expensive than other billing methods. If a client wanted to pay me by the hour for a full review and mutliple sessions throughout the year, that is their perogative, but they would spend more money by doing that. 

Let us determine if we spend more money. How about having the client take some of the responsiblity? Such as, asking the client to go back to your employer and get the list 401k, 403b, or 457b list of funds? Of course, if you do it the cost will be more. A lot of the paperwork can be done by the client. What about asking the client to read up on investing? Doesn't hurt to ask. Charge them for your time if they have questions about the reading material that could turn into a lengthy discussion. Learning some of the investing basics is also an investment, don't you think? Don't you love to talk investing with clients, especially those that want to learn and take more responsibility?

 

When I mention managers - some people want a professional to review their account on a quarterly basis (something I don't do in my retainer agreement) and make trading / rebalancing decisions without them being involved. They also want to use funds that retail clients don't have access to (e.g. DFA or institutional holdings). Additionally, ,aybe they don't want to take the time and want to delegate, or they don't have time due to other commitments. Whatever the reason, they may want to pay a percentage of their assets for this service and that would be suitable if the percentage wasn't too high (1%+).

 

Time is always an interesting issue: What is more important than watching over tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of one's investments or retirement nestegg. If their portfolio is simple, time should not be an issue. If its a lot of time, perhaps the portfolio is too complicated.

 

In regards to the ex-teacher, it depends on what they feel comfortable with. Do they want the security of a small pension, or would they prefer to invest their money? If they asked my opinion, I would move it to an IRA to control the situation and investment choices. Interesting, since portfolio management is very complicated according to the experts, then move a secure pension into an IRA with all of the risks and costs of managing that money is taken up by the teacher. I have heard too many regrets of people taking their money out of their pension or their IRA early in their working career. I don't have a big fat pension either, and I had the opportunity to convert some of it to an IRA, but I didn't and I always tell people to hang on to your teacher's pension.  If its a private company's pension that's a wholly different situation, as we know those pensions have been disappearing for the last 30 years like a teaspoon of salt dropped in the Mariana Trench. Studies show that pension plans beat the alternative: http://www.forbes.com/sites/mitchelltuchman/2013/06/04/pension-plans-beat-401k-savers-silly-heres-why/

 

I think when it comes to investing and our finances, everyone is different and needs help in different ways. I try and design ways for people to pay who fall into different situations. I have clients who want to pay hourly and other who want to be on retainer. I ask them if they are aware of what they are signing up for and the differences in service, and they are. Regardless of how they pay and utilize my knowledge, I work with all clients to the same high standard.

 

But we may agree to disagree with some aspects of this discussion.....I don't see the disagreement on the original "challenge" except that some clients who want you to do everything, even the "cash flow" then the hourly fee would be more costly than the retainer.

 

My goal in this conversation is to change the current relationship of advisers and clients so that the adviser asks all of their clients to take a little more responsibility for their money, instead of capitulating to the clients' demands that the adviser do everything.

 

2008 changed everything, trust is a huge issue and should not be the sole determination in seeking assistance. Clients must take some responsibility which is a form of protection against too many fees and costs and the conflict of investing philosophies (passive vs. active). Don't expect any adviser to take this risk, because to do this you risk losing clients, so the message is always back to the investor. We must learn some of the basics so that "trust, but verify" comes into the discussion. 

 

Respectfully,

Steve

 

Respectfully,

Dave


Steve Schullo

Author and Co-Author of two books:

1. Late Bloomer Millionaires: A Financial Story and Investment Guide for the Late Starter (2013)

2. Fighting Powerful Interests: Educators Challenge Tax-sheltered Annuities and WIN! (2015)


#13 sschullo

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Posted 29 July 2014 - 10:37 AM

Hi Dave,

I was hoping for a response to my idea of changing the adviser/client relationship and trust issue.

Steve


Steve Schullo

Author and Co-Author of two books:

1. Late Bloomer Millionaires: A Financial Story and Investment Guide for the Late Starter (2013)

2. Fighting Powerful Interests: Educators Challenge Tax-sheltered Annuities and WIN! (2015)


#14 davegrant82

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Posted 29 July 2014 - 10:48 AM

Steve,

 

It's an interesting concept with trying to change the advisor/client dynamic, but I think it would be hard to change it across the board. I know when I hire a plumber, I don't want to learn about plumbing, I want him to fix my problem. If I explicitly said I want to learn how to fix this myself even if I have to pay for more for your time, that's a different issue. However, when I meet with clients, they want to have their problems (current and future) fixed - that's what they're paying for. I'm happy to teach people - and enjoy it - but that's not what everyone wants.

 

Trust is an interesting dynamic. Yes, you can "trust, but verify" but if you keep doing that, then trust is not likely to be built up. If I go to my doctor but then verify his decison with my family member who is a doctor, but they come up with two different diagnosis, whose advice should I follow? I trust the person who I have seen for years and knows lots of different areas of my health history. It's the same with an advisor - you have to trust their expertise and assessment because they know lots of other areas of your life. In finances particularly, lots of things intertwine so making a financial decision isn't always as easy as looking at the problem on a surface level. It does help when areas of conflict are removed (using a fee-only advisor) so hopefully trust can be built a little quicker.

 

Regards,

Dave



#15 sschullo

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Posted 30 July 2014 - 12:55 PM

Wonderful that you want to keep the discussion going. I think its a great discussion. For awhile there, I thought you were gone.

 

The comparison of your (I mean all financial advisers whether brokers, insurance agents or consultants) fee structure with other professions is exactly what your profession should do. I am very happy you brought up the plumber and the MD examples. Wouldn't you agree that plumbers make a pretty decent living? Our plumber charged $90 a hour a few months ago when we needed him for some work, far less than our local fee-only adviser who charges $250 an hour (and an AUM), yet in the financial world that $250 isn't enough. But the actual amount is not the point--the plumber charges only by the hour and is gone, which rarely exists in the financial world. In fact, I was told recently by a fellow teacher that a financial adviser would not work with him because the client wanted to pay him like the plumber.

 

There is no need for a retainer or any other fees by the plumber. But you also assume that I know nothing or want to know nothing about plumbing. This is where I take issue. We have to know enough about plumbing to take precautions so that water damage does not harm the house. I installed a shut off value when we are away on a weekend or vacation. I monitor under our sinks and toilets to make sure our pipes are not leaking. I also installed metal flexible pipes for the clothes washer replacing the rubber ones to prevent a rupture. Rubber is vulnerable to cracking here in the desert. I asked the plumber to take a look under our sinks to evaluate the age of all of our flexible pipes. This is all common sense ideas and yet I am no professional plumber. People can do the same thing with their finances, if encouraged and shown that they can take some of the responsibility. I cannot change water pipes, but I can evaluate and take precautions to prevent water damage. The same can be said of evaluating our financial advisers using common sense ideas and if the information can be presented in a straightforward manner and is encouraging.

 

The MD fee structure is the same as the plumber. They charge my insurance company by appointment and that's it.

 

Trust: The only thing that must be trusted is that our domestic and world economic systems will grow and that our portfolio will grow along with it IF properly invested with low cost indexes or ETFs. We all have to trust that. If we don't, what is the point in investing in equities? Everything else in this seemingly complicated client/adviser relationship is academic. Taking the human being out of the formula makes the investing process a whole lot simpler. We can design our portfolios to take advantage of that one trust that the world economies will grow by investing in just two funds (Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF and the International Stock Market ETF) would not require trusting anybody.

 

This is the future of investing and the client adviser relationship will change. Why? Because everything changes eventually. It's already changing by this discussion between a non professional and a professional. I think its great that this is happening right now.
Have a great day Dave,
Steve


Steve Schullo

Author and Co-Author of two books:

1. Late Bloomer Millionaires: A Financial Story and Investment Guide for the Late Starter (2013)

2. Fighting Powerful Interests: Educators Challenge Tax-sheltered Annuities and WIN! (2015)