The Investment Scientist

Ameriprise Caught by SEC! Now What?

Posted on: March 2, 2018


It just caught my attention today that buried deep in the CNBC website was this headline:

Ameriprise Puts Retirement Savers at Disadvantage in High-Fee Funds, Says SEC

As the consequence of getting caught, the billion dollar company agreed to pay a fine of $230,000. If this is not a slap on the wrist I don’t know what is. Is it going to deter Ameriprise or any other brokerages from ripping off their clients? Nah, I don’t think so.

In a statement, Ameriprise pointed out “… It’s important to note that this is a long-standing industry topic and numerous firms have settled with SEC and FINRA on similar matters.”

This is actually a very honest statement that makes it clear that the dishonest practice of costly hidden fees is quite prevalent in the industry. I only take issue with their use of the word “topic” as if no harm has been done.

From my experience of doing 2nd opinion reviews, I have learned that if someone has a financial adviser from any of the big brokerages, I can usually find 1.5% of hidden fees in the portfolio, which is on top of the 1% open adviser fees. That does not look like a lot at first glance. But over ten years, it’s like 15% gone. Most folks have a investment timeline of 20 to 30 years. Over that length of time, a third to a half of your wealth will be taken away from you without your knowledge.

That’s why it’s extremely important to get a second opinion review from us: Schedule a 2nd Opinion Review Now.


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Michael Zhuang is principal of MZ Capital, a fee-only independent advisory firm based in Washington, DC. He is also a regular contributor to Morningstar Advisor and Physicians Practice. To explore a long-term wealth advisory relationship, schedule a discovery meeting (phone call) with him.

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