Are you getting your money’s worth with your current wealth manager? Here are five simple ways to make sure your advisor is working for you:
Read Your Performance Reports
Or demand them! Your wealth manager should be sending you a report on how your portfolio performed at least every quarter. Not only should this report show your account values but it should compare how your portfolio growth did against a benchmark. This way you can what impact your manager had compared to portfolios with similar investments and against the market as a whole. Remember, beating the benchmark is a very tough thing to do given fees, taxes and trading costs; but if your manager is consistently earning less than the benchmark (consistently meaning more than 4+ quarters in a row) then be sure to understand why.
If you are confused by your statements, performance reports or market conditions – ask your advisor! He or she is there to help. They should be able to explain what happened in the market over the last quarter or year in terms that are easy to understand and without all the industry jargon. Make sure you understand what your benchmark is comprised of and why they use the funds they do. And definitely understand how they are being compensated. Generally firms will charge 1% annually on the money they manage for you, but they may also be getting commissions on the funds they are trading. All of this information should be disclosed to you, so do not be afraid to ask; after all it is your money!
Know Your Advisor
It’s great to call in or shoot an email to ask questions, but it’s also important to meet face to face (or Skype) with your advisor. Most advisors will meet with their clients once a year but many will even meet quarterly. This is a great opportunity for you and your advisor to really dig deep into your portfolio and take the time to explain how it’s been performing and how they expect it to perform in the future.
Make Sure Your Advisor Knows You
There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to portfolio construction, so make sure your manager is investing in a way that suits you. Maybe you have kids going to college soon or are looking to put a down payment on a house. Make sure your manager knows this so they can allocate a portion of your portfolio into more conservative investments. On the other hand, maybe your feel your portfolio is too conservative and you want to take more risk. Talk to your advisor about different and diversified ways of adding risk to your portfolio. Your manager should also be able to incorporate your personal views into your allocation. For example, perhaps you have a strong distaste for big oil companies; your advisor should take this into considerate when selecting in what funds to utilize.
See What Other Services They Offer
And take advantage of them. Financial planning should be included in the relationship with your manager so they can continue to build a proper portfolio allocation to meet your goals. They may also offer services including charitable giving strategy development, mortgage options and real estate economics, and investment education for kids, all included in your fee. They probably also have some great referrals for estate planning attorneys, tax lawyers, accountants and other resources (again, make sure you know if they are compensated for this). The most important thing is to ask!
Keep in mind that your wealth manager works for you and in the end it is your money and your future that is involved. If you feel that your manager is not meeting your needs, it’s never too late to look around. After all, a wealth manager is there to give you peace of mind and help guide you to a comfortable and well-funded retirement.