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I Am Not an Investment Advisor. (But Plenty of People Are.)

In the last few weeks I’ve received emails from several readers asking about engaging me in an investment advisory (or other financial planning) capacity.

While I’m flattered that some of you trust me enough to include me on your list of advisor candidates, I am not a registered investment adviser (or representative thereof), and I am not in the business of providing investment advice (or tax advice) in exchange for compensation.

In other words, writing books, writing these articles, and corresponding with readers is the extent of my business. (Though as I’ve mentioned before, please do not hesitate to ask me questions via email. Readers’ questions serve as the inspiration for almost every article here.)

Fortunately, there are plenty of good people out there doing good advisory work at a reasonable cost.

Where to Look for an Investment Advisor

Naturally, as a DIY investor, I’ve never personally used the services of an advisor. However, one result of writing this blog is that I get the opportunity to interact with many excellent people who do advisory work.

I’ve had positive interactions with many advisors including (but not limited to) Allan RothRick Ferri, and numerous people from NAPFA and the Garrett Planning Network.

So, perhaps those would be good places to start a search.

Finding the Right Type of Advisor

Regardless of where you look to find potential advisors, I think a useful step when considering a given advisor is to confirm that his/her investment philosophy matches your own philosophy prior to contacting him/her. (If you can’t find this information on the advisor’s website, you should be able to find it easily by looking at their Form ADV II.)

For example, if you’re looking for an advisor who uses a buy/hold/rebalance strategy with low-cost index funds or ETFs, you’re going to be wasting your time contacting (and giving your contact information to) an advisor who uses actively managed funds.

In addition, when looking for an advisor, it usually makes sense to narrow the field based upon what service(s) you’re looking for. For example:

  • Some advisors provide as-needed advice on an hourly basis (or on a fixed fee-for-service basis),
  • Some advisors provide portfolio management services (i.e., the actual running of the portfolio — buying, selling, rebalancing, etc.) on an annual-fee basis, and
  • Many advisors provide both services for a combined fee.

Naturally, if you only need one service or the other, it is generally not desirable to pay for both.

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  1. Are you planning on becoming an advisor in the near future by any chance?

  2. Nope!

    I respect the advisory profession. And it certainly has an appeal to it — working with people face to face.

    But I have no interest in dealing with the assorted regulatory/compliance things that come along with the business. In addition, I continue to enjoy my current business, and it’s keeping me plenty busy.

  3. I have followed your blog for quite awhile and really enjoy it – Thanks Mike for all the effort and energy you put into it. Thought I would comment because I do work with a fee-only advisor – Buckingham Asset Management. I also live near St. Louis.

    I believe there is also one more distinction to make and that is there is a big difference between an investment advisor and a financial advisor. Low fee advisors like Rick Ferri would be an investment advisor. His services manage your portfolio – nothing more, nothing less, which is fine if that is what you need. A financial advisor such as what Buckingham offers helps with your entire financial picture – so much more than putting a portfolio together and rebalancing.

    With that said – here are some keys to doing due diligence to find a financial advisor offered by Larry Swedroe:

    “And I agree it is somewhat difficult for the average investor to find a really good advisor, since they have tend to have limited knowledge to do the proper due diligence. Having said that here are guidelines that one can follow to increase the odds of success. “The advisory firm in question should be able to address the following issues in the ways discussed below:

    The best interest of the client
    Our guiding principle is that we will provide investment and wealth management advisory services that are in the client’s best interest.

    Fiduciary standard
    We provide a fiduciary standard of care—the highest legal duty that we can have with a client.

    We are a fee-only advisor—avoiding the conflicts and lack of objectivity that commissioned-based compensation can create.

    Products: They’re not-for-sale here
    We are client-centric—we don’t sell any products, only advice.

    Full disclosure
    All potential conflicts are fully disclosed.

    Use scientific research
    Our advice is based on the latest scientific research, not on our opinions.

    Practice what you preach
    We invest our personal assets, including our profit-sharing plan, based on the same set of investment principles and in the same or comparable securities that we recommend to our clients.

    Advisory team for each client
    Each client is assigned a team of professionals. Our comprehensive wealth management services are provided by individuals who have the CFP, PFS, or other comparable designation.

    Attentive, individualized service
    We provide a high level of personal attention. Developing strong personal relationships is central to our ability to provide appropriate advice and service for each client.

    Customized, integrated planning
    We develop investment and wealth management plans that relate to the whole person—that are integrated into to each individual’s unique strategy and personal situation.

    Strategic advice for long-term success
    Our advice is goal-oriented. We evaluate each recommendation, not in isolation, but in terms of its impact on the likelihood of success of the overall plan.

    If a firm can show it does these things the odds of finding a good advisor are increased substantially IMO. Then of course references from people you know or others in the industry can be helpful (attorneys, CPAs)

    Best Regards. Ev

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