The Investment Scientist

Posts Tagged ‘financial advisor

I must confess: I have fallen short of the standards and requirements to become one of America’s Best Financial Advisors. To be exact, I am $497 short.

In March of last year, I received an email with a congratulatory title: “You Have Been Nominated To Be One of America’s Top Advisors.” I eagerly opened the email. It read:

You have been nominated to be listed on the most Exclusive List of Financial Advisors in America….We would love to have you as a member of this exclusive club and I have attached additional information regarding how our unique marketing model works.  We will be advertising the list of Top Advisors in the Wall Street Journal next week so I would like to get you included before the deadline on Monday.

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Few people know that there are 2,613,000 financial advisors in the U.S. It is the fifth largest vocation, right after truck drivers and before janitors. Even fewer people know that, unlike attorney and CPA, financial advisor is a free title – there is no uniform legal standard or educational requirement for the title. Nobody will get into trouble calling himself or herself a financial advisor.

In practice, there are two types of professionals who call themselves financial advisors: registered representatives (aka brokers) and registered investment advisors (aka RIAs).

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Who are we? That’s the question many financial advisors have been asking themselves. I agree with Carl Richards when he says financial advisors have an identity crisis.  Are we looking in the mirror each morning wondering who we are? Maybe not, but we do have a problem.

Let’s Confuse ‘Em
There are many so-called “financial advisors” that simply want to sell clients expensive products; and one of the ways to do that is to confuse the customer. Now, financial firms don’t actually have an official Customer Confusion Department, but they might as well have one. Case in point: We call ourselves “fee-only” advisors, hoping to differentiate from product pushers on commission; pretty soon, they re-brand themselves as “fee-based” advisors.  How many people can actually tell the difference between a “fee-only” advisor and a “fee-based” one?

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and this will happen.

What will happen to your money if you hire a salesman as your financial advisor

What will happen to your money if you hire a salesman as your financial advisor

“Avoid the fee-ing frenzy,” says David Swensen. financial-advisor

Marion banks at Wachovia. When she needs to rollover her 401(k) into an IRA account, she naturally asks a Wachovia financial advisor for help. He helps her open an account and recommends she buy the Evergreen Asset Allocation Fund (EAAFX). Is there anything wrong with this picture? Plenty!

First, the fund has a sales charge (front-end load) of 5.75%. Her 401(k) balance is $100,000. This means, the advisor takes $5,750 just for the act of opening the account for her.

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Author

Michael Zhuang is principal of MZ Capital, a fee-only independent advisory firm based in Washington, DC.

Twitter: @mzhuang

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