Maybe not actually, but at the very least you are probably paying more than you should for financial advice. A Bloomberg piece recently covered a study looking at the median fees paid by individuals for advisory services. The study, conducted by Inside Information, looked at both fund and advisor fees individually and the combined total individuals are paying for financial advice. The results, shown below, speak to a financial industry where the good of the client is secondary to profit motive.
The difference between paying 1.85% and 1.2% adds up to be huge over time, not even to mention the difference if your all in fees are nearer .6%. Assuming you invested $100,000 for 40 years with a 5% annual return, the difference between paying 1.85% and 1.2% ends up being $100,790. That’s a huge hit. It gets worse if you lower the fees to .6%. If you paid .6% annually, in the simple model, you’d end up with $553,384, a difference of $219,817 from the highest fee bracket quoted in the study.
This is not to suggest that investment advisors aren’t worth the money, at the right fee level they most certainly are, but rather that fees make an enormous in the long term prospects of an individuals portfolio and wealth. A quality advisor helps clients in myriad ways, and serve as a psychological buffer when the markets get tough.
There is good news though. On both fronts, advisor fees and funds fees, prices are coming down and should continue to do so. The shift toward indexing has reduced the fund fee burden for most investors significantly, and much like hedge-fund fees, advisor fees have also felt pressure from new and different models of providing financial advice. Individuals need to be prepared to grill a potential advisor about the underlying securities they suggest, since those fees often fly under the radar and can do as much damage as the advisors fee.
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