The two paths of asset management and how much it should cost
All of our financial planning clients receive the benefit of our recommendations for investments. Many clients come to us for financial planning and then implement these investment recommendations with a discount broker such as Vanguard, TD Ameritrade or Charles Schwab. This two-step approach where we reccommend investments and the client opens the account and buys the funds in a guided DIY approach is best for them. But others want or need more hands-on assistance. Of course, we are honored and humbled by the trust of our clients. We will gladly work with any investor in either a guided DIY approach or as an asset manager - regardless of the size of your investment.
Is DIY (Do It Yourself) asset management right for you?
- If you have less than $1 million (not including home equity and 401k-type retirement accounts at your current employer), we strongly recommend that you take the guided DIY approach. Our fiduciary duty requires that we point out that the virtue of simplicity and the absolute necessity to minimize cost usually outweighs the benefit of the techniques an asset manager can utilize in such a portfolio.
- You get the benefit of our fund selection advice at our hourly rate. If you have engaged us for a comprehensive plan you already know our recommendations on funds and allocations. If not, we would work with you to plan a portfolio with a handful of low-cost investments, mostly Index Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), matched to your risk tolerance. We will then help you to select a discount broker and track your results. This is a good option for anyone and investors with $100,000 or several million go this route.
How do you determine if professional asset management makes sense for you?
- If you have $25 million or more you can invest in hedge funds managed by the brightest stars on Wall Street and should probably do so with at least a portion of your wealth.
- If you fall within the $1 million to $25 million range you are a good candidtate for the type of professional asset management we offer.
- Next, consider your temperament and experience. If you have had trouble sticking to an investment plan in the past, if fear or greed have been obstacles to making the most of your investment dollars, or if you want the relative simplicity of partnering with a fiduciary advisor whose incentives are aligned with your own, then you should consider hiring us as an asset manager.
How do you determine if our offer is right for you?
Sometimes it's really hard to compare fees.
And in our opinion there's no time when that's OK. Asset managers typically assess fees as a percentage of assets and automatically deduct them from client accounts. This called an AUM fee for Assets Under Management. There is no way to avoid all trading costs when buying and selling most securities so that is common no matter who you work with. No problem so far. However, many advisors are also paid sales commissions (front-end loads), 12b-1 fees, have large "account fees" or custodial fees, recieve "bonuses" from their firm when clients go with preferred investments, and collect back-end loads when you sell. This makes it hard to understand what the service is truly costing you and where your advisor's incentives lie, and that’s a huge problem. Many of these people call themselves "fee-based" advisors in an effort to distract from the fact that other people besides you are paying them, and that has to color their recommendations.
Even if you ignore all that and just compare AUM fees ours are very competative.
Putting aside the other commissions and charges, what is a reasonable percentage of assets fee?
The average fee paid to asset managers is 1% on the first $1 Million under management. [Link] This may not sound like a lot, but remember, that's a starting price of $10,000 every year. We think that's too much for a few hours of work which may or may not be outsourced anyway.
Even worse, the same study showed that those with $10 million paid close to 0.7% - an average or $70,000 per year. Is it really 7 times harder to manage $10 million than $1 million? We don't think so.
The Your Best Path Advantage
Our AUM fee starts lower and gets to our minimum rate faster than what you are likely to find anywhere. Here is our current typical fee schedule.
A hypothetical investor with $1 million invested would pay $4,500 per year or just less than half of the industry norm. An investor with $10 million would pay $23,500 per year or about a third of the industry norm described above. As you fee-only advisor there are no additional fees other than the trading cost at our custodian, where more than 500 ETFs trade for free.
What happens when you choose Your Best Path Financial Planning to manage your assets?
- First, we will determine the right mix of stocks and bonds based on your unique financial situation, your goals, and your risk appetite.
- We will consider your values and offer the opportunity to make your portfolio reflect those values.
- We will use our expertise to select a broad range of low-cost investments for you while utilizing the appropriate tax strategies for your situation.
- We will help you maintain discipline to stay appropriately invested through the inevitable ups and downs.
- We will monitor your portfolio performance and review the investment plan with you annually, or quarterly if you prefer.
- We will rebalance your investments as needed to maintain your overall stock/bond ratio.
- If you are retired, we will devise a strategy of planned periodic transfers to fund your living expenses while keeping in reserve sufficient cushion to protect against having to sell assets in brief times of unusual market volatility such as December 2018.