Market Pulse: Do you need an adviser?

David Vomund
Special to the Tribune

Investors trust advisers more than politicians, about the same as mechanics, and less than doctors, lawyers and accountants, a CFA Institute study says. That’s not a ringing endorsement. Another survey showed that nearly half of U.S. adults think financial advisers are expensive and only for the wealthy.

David Vomund

I find investors are most concerned about fees. Is an adviser buying securities to line his own pocket or is he working in the best interest of the client? Here’s what to ask your adviser.

How do you get compensated? If the answer is more than a sentence then that’s a red flag. Fees should be clearly stated in quarterly statements and they should include all the hidden items that act as a reward. “Fee only” advisers, like myself, receive no incentives to recommend securities or products.

What other fees are you paying? Some advisers place accounts in mutual funds whose annual expenses are more than 1%. The adviser’s fee and the mutual fund’s expenses might total well over 2%.

Are there any conflicts of interest? Conflicts occur when an adviser receives compensation for selling you particular products. If your adviser tries to sell you an annuity be sure to ask how much commission he will receive. Some brokers will sell a client a “load fund.” Those outrageous funds often charge investors 5 or 6% just to buy them, and they reward brokers for selling them.

Do you even need an adviser? That depends. If you are younger than 50 and are investing for retirement, then the answer is no. You can buy and hold a broad-based low-fee equity ETF like Vanguard Dividend Growth (VIG) and let the power of compounding work for you. As an aside, I’m convinced people that tuck money away and don’t look at it do better than those that closely monitor their portfolios. Those that track investments too often are more prone to panic selling.

If, however, you are in retirement and in need of income then it’s trickier. An adviser can help you generate income from your investments, limit draw-downs, make sure you take required withdrawals, and help your family settle and manage the account after you pass away.

Deciding whether to invest for yourself or use an investment adviser is an important decision. Here’s the good news: 95% of survey respondents who use an adviser said the advice was well worth the money. Now if we were only respected as much as lawyers.

David Vomund is an Incline Village-based Independent Investment Advisor. Information is found at or by calling 775-832-8555. Clients hold the positions mentioned in this article. Past performance does not guarantee future results. Consult your financial advisor before purchasing any security.

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