Several times over the past year, I’ve been asked how our firm is different from the largest wealth management firms. My experience in reviewing countless investment statements from these companies has led me to believe our major differentiator comes down to our relentless commitment to transparency.
In giving customers a second opinion on their investments throughout my career, I have yet to meet anyone who was able to compute the exact fee they were paying on their investments. Many times, I’ve heard people say they pay their advisor 1%. While this may be true, there are other costs in doing business, such as:
- How does the wire/brokerage house get paid?
- How do the mutual fund companies get paid?
- Who pays for the fee to trade on the account?
- Who incurs the fees to pay the person who answers the phone all the way up to the CEO of the organization?
These fees have to come from somewhere…most often, it’s the client!
It’s my belief that the fees you see will always be lower than the fees you don’t see. It is not that customers are naive to the fact there are fees; however, they usually see the advisor’s fee as the only fee that exists. That is why it is important to ask questions. To help you get started, download this free pdf.
After my initial consultation, where I provide a complementary second opinion, I encourage customers to email or write their advisor to request a written statement of all fees associated with their portfolio. It may be a red flag if your advisor is unwilling to provide this in writing, since withholding this information is strictly prohibited by compliance regulations.
There has been a considerable amount of news coverage coming out from various sources regarding allegations of companies failing to disclose all fees. According to a Bloomberg article written on March 1, 2018, “Wells Fargo disclosed in a Thursday regulatory filing that it is ’assessing whether there have been inappropriate referrals or recommendations, including with respect to rollovers for 401(k) plan participants, certain alternative investments, or referrals of brokerage customers to the company’s investment and fiduciary-services business.’ The bank added that the review of its wealth management business was prompted by inquiries from federal agencies. The SEC has previously sanctioned banks for improperly selling customers in-house investment products. In 2015, JPMorgan Chase & Co. agreed to pay $267 million to settle allegations that it didn’t tell customers that it reaped profits by putting their money into mutual funds and hedge funds that generated fees for the company.”
At end of the day, it’s important for financial advisors to offer straightforward fees, an effective game plan and advice in common language to build a trusted and transparent relationship with clients. Not only is this the focus of our team on a daily basis, but we also strive to make the complex simple for clients – so you know EXACTLY what is happening with your money. This is why our team has been recognized by Forbes, Barron’s, Financial Times and WealthManagement.com as one of the top firms in the nation. We exist to serve as our clients’ guide for life’s big tradeoff decisions. By working with us, we hope you become more confident in your future.
For help you understand the true cost you’re paying your advisor, download this free guide and uncover your hidden fees.