Objective advice, or shady recommendations

Another great article in the Wall Street Journal: this one about how investors are confused about adviser fees and regulation.

The issues may seem nit-picky, but they have a big impact on investor outcomes.

On the one hand, you have fee-only advisers who are paid as a percentage of assets under management, a flat fee, a per hour fee, or a per task fee.  

On the other hand, you have fee-based advisers, who are paid by a combination of fees and sales commissions.  

If the issue seems trivial, let me explain.  A fee-only adviser will not get $5,000 for advising that you invest $100,000 in a particular mutual fund.  A fee-based adviser will.

When you ask a fee-only adviser for advice, you know they aren’t steering you toward a lucrative product which may not be right for you or any good.  With a fee-based adviser, you don’t know.  

Asking a fee-based adviser for advice is like asking a barber if you need a haircut–the answer will always be yes.

Another issue is fiduciary duty.  An investment adviser (a regulatory designation: Investment Adviser’s Act of 1940) must put the interest of clients’ above their own.  A broker/dealer (Securities Exchange Act of 1934) has no such obligation.

When you see fee-based, think broker/dealer and barber.  When you see fee-only, think advice in your best interests.

Nothing in this blog should be considered investment, financial, tax, or legal advice. The opinions, estimates and projections contained herein are subject to change without notice. Information throughout this blog has been obtained from sources believed to be accurate and reliable, but such accuracy cannot be guaranteed.

Objective advice, or shady recommendations

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