Friday, May 4, 2012

Do I Need a Financial Adviser Anymore?

Money and butter: both are lubricants.
When my wife and I started our full-time jobs several years ago, my wife was interested in getting a financial adviser that would keep track of her/my/our money (we weren't yet married) and suggest investments. We found a very nice, qualified person who has more or less done well for us. As we were young and didn't start out with a lot extra to invest beyond our 401(k) plans, our financial adviser exclusively invested our money in a couple of mutual funds.

In the last year, as I've grown more interested in money topics, I've started to do a lot more research on investing and what my wife and I will need to do to retire. I've taken what I've learned, and I started a Roth IRA for myself last year, and I put money into it and chose investments for it. While I don't want to go into the details of it, suffice it to say that I have not (knock on wood) lost any money in that account, and I'm even a few hundy in the black.

The problem is that I, like a good number of other adults, have come to realize and understand that mutual funds (while coming with the positive of being diversified) are not without the negative of annual fees. When you take into account that my wife and I pay an additional fee each time we make a purchase from our financial adviser (it is how she gets paid, which is fair enough), I'm not convinced that I need a financial adviser any longer to recommend which mutual funds I should invest in, particularly since Sharebuilder (my online brokerage) offers certain mutual funds for which I don't need to pay any fee to purchase.*

I guess I'm just saying that if I weren't so interested in learning about saving and investing right now, I would be a lot happier spending the money on a financial adviser to take care of my money. However, since I do spend a good amount of time each week researching money and investing, the work of a financial adviser (at least in the capacity that ours has thus far helped us) seems a little bit unnecessary.

I'm bring this up now because my wife and I met with our adviser last week, and we mentioned that we both had old 401(k) accounts (the company we work for has had three different owners since we started working for it, and with each new owner comes a new benefits program), and our adviser suggested that she facilitate rolling them over with the other accounts that we have with her. While this might be a good idea if we were especially concerned about having all of our accounts in one centralized location (which isn't necessarily a bad idea), I'm a little concerned about the fees we'll be charged to roll the money over (both from the banks as well as the chunk that will go to our adviser). When I reviewed my investments in the 401(k) last month, I verified that my money is already in low-cost mutual funds; why should I pay a chunk of money to move them to another set of mutual funds?

On the one hand, I think that I might just be being cheap. As I mentioned above, our adviser has done well enough by us, so I shouldn't be nonplussed by the fees that she gets to do her job (do I begrudge a waitress a tip for doing her job? Well, sometimes [at least on take out]). On the other hand, with my own burgeoning competence at investing, the money we pay her just seems like extra money out.

What do you think? Am I just being a jackwagon? Have you used a financial adviser, and, if so, have you had positive experiences? Let me know in the comments.

*To be fair, we're meeting with her next week, and, now that we have a bit more money to invest, it's possible that she'll advise us to invest in other avenues. We'll see.

Photo by emdot.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Financial advisers often have the wrong incentives-- the things that make them money lose you money.

If you open up an account with Vanguard, you can give them a call and they will help you fill out all the paperwork etc. for rolling everything over to them. You can pick out a target-date for your retirement and you're done. They have the lowest fees in the industry and you will match the market losing very little money to fees.

We're gradually moving all our non-work stuff over to them. (Work stuff stays in Fidelity because Vanguard is not an option.)