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How to Find a Financial Advisor You Can Trust

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7 Facts That Will Free You From the Fear of Stock Market CrashesHow Wall Street Fools You Into Overpaying for UnderperformanceWhat Your 401(k) Provider Doesn’t Want You to KnowThe 6 Biggest Mistakes Ordinary Investors MakeHow to Find a Financial Advisor You Can TrustHere’s How to Become a 401(k) Millionaire

How to Find a Financial Advisor You Can Trust

How to Find a Financial Advisor You Can Trust

More and more people are using financial advisors to help them navigate the complex journey to financial freedom.

But although more Americans are seeking advice on matters of personal finance, they are also less sure that the advice they are getting is trustworthy.

Unfortunately, a growing amount of Americans see advisors as serving their companies’ best interests rather than their own best interests. According to a survey by The National Association of Retirement Plan Participants (NARPP), 60% of Americans now feel this way compared to just 25% of respondents in 2010.

Who Can Be Trusted?

Today’s infographic is from Tony Robbins, and it covers key points from his #1 Best Selling book Unshakeable: Your Financial Freedom Playbook, which is now available on paperback.

The book dissects the investment advisor landscape to show the value of a relationship with an advisor, the legal distinctions between different advisor types, and how advisors are incentivized.

Ultimately, it helps give you the ammo you need to find an investment advisor that will provide you with better service than the rest.

The Value of the Right Advisor

The right financial advisor can help you make better decisions, address your cognitive biases, and use their expertise to save you massive amounts of money.

A recent Vanguard study helps quantify the value a good advisor can bring:

  • Lowering expense ratios: 0.45%
  • Rebalancing portfolio: 0.35%
  • Asset allocation: 0.75%
  • Withdrawing the right investments in retirement: 0.70%
  • Behavioral coaching: 1.50%

Total: 3.75% of added value!

That’s more than 3x what a sophisticated advisor might charge, and doesn’t include the benefits of reducing taxes or other areas.

Advisors vs. Brokers

There are roughly 310,000 people in the U.S. who call themselves financial advisors – but they actually fall under two different legal frameworks.

About 90% of this group are brokers, while 10% are registered investment advisors. Confusingly, there is also a significant portion who are dual-registered as both brokers and registered advisors, as well.

What’s the difference?

The two have different legal obligations, as well as differing ways of receiving compensation from clients:

Investment Advisor (RIA)

  • RIAs are registered with the SEC and with the state they are working in
  • Like doctors or lawyers, investment advisors have a fiduciary duty and legal obligation to their clients
  • In other words, they must serve your best interest at all times
  • They also must disclose any conflicts of interest
  • They don’t accept commission from third-parties for their products

How they get paid: They charge a % based on assets managed, or a flat fee for financial advice

Brokers

  • Brokers are usually employed by banks, brokerage houses, or insurance companies
  • The products they recommend have to pass a suitability standard, based on your personal circumstances
  • However, they do not have to necessarily recommend the best product for you

How they get paid: They get commissions for selling certain products to you. They may also charge based on assets under management, as well.

Picking the Right Advisor

Remember, the right advisor can add 3.75% of added value to a portfolio, and that’s before taxes and other areas! With the stakes so high, how can Americans pick the right advisor for them?

Here are the 7 questions Tony Robbins would ask a potential advisor to work with:

1. Are you a Registered Investment Advisor?
If the answer is yes, he or she is required by law to be a fiduciary.

2. Are you (or your firm) affiliated with a Broker-Dealer?
If yes, he or she can act as a broker and receive commissions for guiding you into specific investments.

3. Does your firm offer proprietary mutual funds or separately managed accounts?
These products will likely compensate them with additional revenues, at your expense.

4. Do you or your firm receive any third-party compensation for recommending particular investments?
This is the ultimate question you want answered. You want products to be recommended because they are right for you, not because they give the best kickbacks.

5. What’s your philosophy when it comes to investing?
This will help you understand whether your advisor believes he/she can beat the market.

6. What financial planning services do you offer beyond investment strategy and portfolio management?
Financial planning is much bigger than just investing – it also involves planning for your child’s education, handling vested stock options, estate planning, and tax advice. You want someone that can help you in all stages of your life.

7. Where will my money be held?
Having your money held by a trusted third-party custodian will mean your money is in a secure environment.

Like most financial endeavors, picking an advisor is an area lined with potential pitfalls.

But choosing the right investment advisor can be a difference maker – it can even possibly even set you up with many years of extra retirement savings.

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How Americans Make and Spend Their Money, by Education Level

How do different types of education (high school, bachelor’s degree, etc.) correspond to level of income and household expenditures?

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Months ago, we showed you a set of data visualizations that highlighted how people make and spend their money based on income groups.

Today’s post follows a similar theme, and it visualizes differences based on education levels.

Below, we’ll tackle the breakdowns of several educational groupings, ranging from high school dropouts to those in the highest education bracket, which is defined as having achieved a master’s, professional, or doctorate degree.

Income and Spending, by Education

The data visualizations in today’s post come to us from Engaging Data and they use Sankey diagrams to display data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) that shows income and expenditure differences between varying levels of education in America.

The four charts below will show data from the following categories:

  1. Less than high school graduate
  2. High school graduate
  3. Bachelor’s degree
  4. Master’s, professional, or doctorate degree
    1. It should be noted that the educational level listed pertains to the person the BLS defines as the primary household member. Further, people in households can be at different ages and at different stages in their career – for example, someone with a Master’s degree could be 72 years old and collecting pension payments, and this impacts the data.

      Less than High School Graduate – $28,245 in spending (98.5% of total income)

      These contain an average of 2.2 people (0.7 income earners, 0.6 children, and 0.5 seniors)
      Less than High School Graduate

      The average household in this category brings in $17,979 of salary income, as well as an additional $7,503 from social security programs.

      Almost all money (98.5%) is spent, and on average these households are actually pulling money from savings (or taking out loans) to make ends meet. The biggest expenditure categories include: housing (23.5%), foot at home (12.3%), household expenses (8.4%), and gas/insurance (8.2%).

      High School Graduate – $35,036 in spending (87.3% of total income)

      These contain an average of 2.3 people (1.0 income earners, 0.6 children, and 0.4 seniors)
      High School Graduate

      The average household here brings in $29,330 of salary, as well as $9,008 from social security.

      These households spend 87.3% of their income, while putting $3,113 (7.8%) away in savings each year. The biggest expenditure categories include housing (21.7% of spending), food at home (10.1%), gas/insurance (10.0%), and vehicles (7.7%).

      Bachelor’s Degree – $63,373 in spending (68.6% of total income)

      These contain an average of 2.5 people (1.5 income earners, 0.6 children, and 0.4 seniors)
      Bachelor's Degree

      Households with at least one person with a Bachelor’s degree earn $81,629 per year in salary, as well as nearly $11,000 stemming from a combination of social security, dividends, property, and other income.

      Roughly 68.6% of income is spent, with 16.6% going to savings. Top expenditures include housing (22.4%), gas/insurance (8.8%), household expenses (7.9%), and food at home (7.6%).

      Graduate Degree – $83,593 in spending (62.9% of total income)

      These contain an average of 2.6 people (1.5 income earners, 0.6 children, and 0.4 seniors)
      Graduate Degree

      Finally, in the most educated category available, the average amount of salary coming into households is $116,018, with roughly an additional $17,000 coming in from other sources such as social security, dividends, property, and other income.

      Here, 62.9% of income gets spent, and 17.3% gets put towards savings. The most significant expenditure categories are housing (23.3%), household expenses (8.4%), gas and insurance (7.2%), and food at home (6.9%).

      A Changing Role for Education?

      For now, there is a clear link between certain types of college degrees and higher salaries.

      However, as total student debt continues to hit record highs of $1.5 trillion and as more remote educational options proliferate online, it will be interesting to see how these charts are impacted in the coming years.

      By the year 2030, do you think education will still have the same strength of correlation with income levels?

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Chart of the Week

How the Modern Consumer is Different

We all have a stereotypical image of the average consumer – but is it an accurate one? Meet the modern consumer, and what it means for business.

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How the Modern Consumer is Different

How the Modern Consumer is Different

There is a prevailing wisdom that says the stereotypical American consumer can be defined by certain characteristics.

Based on what popular culture tells us, as well as years of experiences and data, we all have an idea of what the average consumer might look for in a house, car, restaurant, or shopping center.

But as circumstances change, so do consumer tastes – and according to a recent report by Deloitte, the modern consumer is becoming increasingly distinct from those of years past. For us to truly understand how these changes will affect the marketplace and our investments, we need to rethink and update our image of the modern consumer.

A Changing Consumer Base

In their analysis, Deloitte leans heavily on big picture demographic and economic factors to help in summarizing the three major ways in which consumers are changing.

Here are three ways the new consumer is different than in years past:

1. Increasingly Diverse
In terms of ethnicity, the Baby Boomers are 75% white, while the Millennial generation is 56% white. This diversity also transfers to other areas as well, such as sexual and gender identities.

Not surprisingly, future generations are expected to be even more heterogeneous – Gen Z, for example, identifies as being 49% non-white.

2. Under Greater Financial Pressure
Today’s consumers are more educated than ever before, but it’s come at a stiff price. In fact, the cost of education has increased by 65% between 2007 and 2017, and this has translated to a record-setting $1.5 trillion in student loans on the books.

Other costs have mounted as well, leaving the bottom 80% of consumers with effectively no increase in discretionary income over the last decade. To make matters worse, if you single out just the bottom 40% of earners, they actually have less discretionary income to spend than they did back in 2007.

3. Delaying Key Life Milestones
Getting married, having children, and buying a house all have one major thing in common: they can be expensive.

The average person under 35 years old has a 34% lower net worth than they would have had in the 1990s, making it harder to tackle typical adult milestones. In fact, the average couple today is marrying eight years later than they did in 1965, while the U.S. birthrate is at its lowest point in three decades. Meanwhile, homeownership for those aged 24-32 has dropped by 9% since 2005.

A New Landscape for Business?

The modern consumer base is more diverse, but also must deal with increased financial pressures and a delayed start in achieving traditional milestones of adulthood. These demographic and economic factors ultimately have a ripple effect down to businesses and investors.

How do these big picture changes impact your business or investments?

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