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Author: synchronicityII Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 75537  
Subject: Re: Wade Pfau: 3% is the new 4% SWR? Date: 3/8/2014 11:14 PM
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Given "average" performance by the current crop of financial advisors, and given the "average" person on the street, is there some level of assets or age or anything where using a paid advisor makes more sense? Or less sense?

In general, if you're reading a financial website and making intelligent comments on the investment part of it, using a financial adviser strictly for investing and paying a fee to manage most of your investments probably doesn't make a whole lot of sense. You're already far above "average" in knowledge compared to most "person[s] on the street".

That said, it might make sense if you have a SO who is not into investing the way you are, so you want continuity and management for them. Or, of course, if you just don't want to deal with most of it personally for whatever reason. I'm assuming that most people who post on this board obviously DO want to deal with it personally, but "most" is not "all", even here. (I'd say the best advisors from an investment standpoint don't necessarily just "invest money to beat indices" but rather have a decent amount of knowledge and can offer insight into current situations, basically help to reduce volatility while maintaining certain returns. But even in that those advisors are probably fairly rare.)

Where it really makes sense if they can give you access to some investment choices you wouldn't have otherwise, or if they can give you advice/insight/expertise into other areas where your knowledge is lacking. They might be able to help you in retirement planning -- although again, if you "get" most of investing you can probably do the math and the other stuff quite well for retirement. A more experienced financial advisor who's actually helped a bunch of people through retirement may have some insights on the entire process from many prior and current clients that you may not, so there's that, and that knowledge may be helpful and worth paying for. It depends.

If you're above a Certain Level of assets or income (probably north of 250K income so you have NII surtax issues nowadays, and at least in the "several MM net worth" range as you may have state level estate tax issues and likely are thinking more about transferring assets efficiently to heirs/charity moreso than just "do I have enough to support me til I die"), they may be able to help you with tax planning and/or estate planning, as they might have access to considerable resources in those areas that you don't have knowledge about (either personally or though their company). Again with the "it depends".

If you already get efficient frontier and the like, then you're unlikely to get a whole lot of help from most "financial advisors" solely on the investment side. As we know, many such advisors work for companies where they get paid primarily on commission for product sales and/or may get extra comp on AUM if clients invest in the "in-house" mutual funds. So, you have to separate the wheat from the chaff. That said, if the person is good enough in other areas and the in-house mutual funds include choices that work for you overall, maybe you're willing to pay a few extra bp of expense ratio as payment for the help they give you.

Is that of any use, or just more rambling?

-synchronicity

PS- planning example I've posted elsewhere in the past - Roth conversion effectively paired with a CLAT. If you have to look up what it is...well, that's the sort of thing that MIGHT make a financial advisor worth it to you. Or not, if your situation would never call for that. I'm just mentioning something that most people posting here probably don't know about to show it's not just about investment IRR.

PPS- circular 230 disclaimer: I'm an idiot and you should ignore everything I say, talk to your own advisors, the IRS doesn't care what I say.

PPPS- other disclaimer, I'm not promoting or recommending any particular company/client/individual, nor am I denigrating any company/client/individual. Everyone has their own goals and objectives and knowledge levels and all that. Different companies offer different products and services. Individual advisors range from very good and knowledgeable to notsomuch, and from extremely ethical and concerned about client needs to notsomuch. It's just like any other arena.
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