Infographic: How to Find a Financial Advisor You Can Trust
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How to Find a Financial Advisor You Can Trust

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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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Personal Finance

Mapped: Personal Finance Education Requirements, by State

Only 22.7% of U.S. students are required to take a personal finance course. Which states have the highest levels of personal finance education?

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The Percentage of Students Receiving Personal Finance Education

When you graduated from high school, did you know how to create a budget? Did you have an understanding of what stocks and bonds were? Did you know how to do your own taxes?

For many Americans, the answer to these questions is probably a “no”. Only 22.7% of U.S. high school students are guaranteed to receive a personal finance education. While this is up from 16.4% in 2018, this still represents a small fraction of students.

This graphic uses data from Next Gen Personal Finance (NGPF) to show the percentage of high school students required to take a personal finance course by state.

A Closer Look at State-level Personal Finance Education

A standalone personal finance course was defined as a course that was at least one semester, which is equivalent to 60 consecutive instructional hours. Here’s the percentage of students in each state who have a required (not optional) personal finance course.

State/Territory% of Students Required to Take Personal Finance Course
Mississippi100.0%
Missouri100.0%
Virginia100.0%
Tennessee99.7%
Alabama99.6%
Utah99.6%
Iowa91.3%
North Carolina89.2%
Oklahoma47.1%
New Jersey43.0%
Nebraska42.8%
Kansas40.8%
Wyoming38.3%
Arkansas34.6%
Wisconsin33.5%
South Dakota27.1%
Ohio23.5%
Pennsylvania16.2%
Maine15.6%
Rhode Island14.8%
Connecticut14.7%
Illinois13.9%
Maryland12.5%
North Dakota12.2%
Vermont12.1%
Nevada11.0%
Indiana10.9%
Oregon7.5%
Minnesota6.9%
Montana6.9%
New Hampshire6.0%
Kentucky5.5%
Colorado5.4%
Delaware5.0%
Massachusetts5.0%
West Virginia3.2%
Louisiana2.7%
Washington2.4%
Texas2.2%
New York2.0%
Michigan1.7%
Idaho1.4%
Arizona1.0%
California0.8%
South Carolina0.8%
Alaska0.6%
Florida0.4%
New Mexico0.4%
Georgia0.0%
Hawaii0.0%
Washington, D.C.0.0%

Eight states currently have state-wide requirements for a personal finance course: Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri, Iowa, North Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and Virginia. Naturally, the level of personal finance education is highest in these states.

Five states have begun the process of implementing a requirement, with Florida being the most populous state yet to guarantee personal finance education for high schoolers. The state previously required schools to offer a personal finance course as an elective, but only 5% of students took the course.

Outside of the guarantee states, only 9.3% of students are required to take a personal finance course. That number drops to 5% for schools that have a high percentage of Black or Brown students, while students eligible for a free or reduced lunch program (i.e. lower income students) also hover at the 5% number.

Why is Personal Financial Education Important?

The majority of Americans believe parents are responsible for teaching their children about personal finance. However, nearly a third of parents say they never talk to their children about finances. Personal finance education at school is one way to help fill that gap.

People who have received a financial education tend to have a higher level of financial literacy. In turn, this can lead to people being less likely to face financial difficulties.

Chart showing that people with low financial literacy are more likely to face financial difficulties, such as being unable to cover an unexpected $2,000 expense, compared to people with high financial literacy

People with low levels of financial literacy were five times more likely to be unable to cover one month of living expenses, when compared to people with high financial literacy. Separate research has found that implementing a state mandate for personal finance education led to improved credit scores and reduced delinquency rates.

Not only that, financial education can play a key role in building wealth. One survey found that only one-third of millionaires averaged a six-figure income over the course of their career. Instead of relying on high salaries, the success of most millionaires came from employing basic personal finance principles: investing early and consistently, avoiding credit card debt, and spending carefully using tools like budgets and coupons.

Expanding Access to Financial Education

Once the in-progress state requirements have been fully implemented, more than a third of U.S. high school students will have guaranteed access to a personal finance course. Momentum is expanding beyond guarantee states, too. There are 48 personal finance bills pending in 18 states according to NGPF’s financial education bill tracker.

Importantly, 88% of surveyed adults support personal finance education mandates—and most wish they had also been required to take a personal finance course themselves.

When we ask the next generation of graduates if they understand how to build a budget, it’s more likely that they will confidently say “yes”.

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Ranked: The Best and Worst Pension Plans, by Country

Which countries are best equipped to support their elderly citizens? This graphic compares pension plans around the world.

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Pension Plans

The Best and Worst Pension Plans Worldwide

Each year, millions of people around the world leave the workforce to retire.

But as the global population grows older, and the COVID-19 pandemic accelerates the already rising number of retirees, there is still a large degree of variance in the quality of public pension plans around the world.

Which countries have invested in robust public pension programs, and which lag behind?

This graphic, using 2021 data from Mercer CFA Institute Global Pension Index, compares retirement income systems worldwide.

How the Index Ranks Pension Plans

Because a country’s pension system is unique to its particular economic and historical context, it’s difficult to draw direct comparisons. However, there are certain elements that pension experts see as universally positive, and that lead to better financial support for older citizens.

As with previous rankings, Mercer and the CFA Institute organized these universal elements into three sub-indexes:

  • Adequacy: The base-level of income, as well as the design of a region’s private pension system.
  • Sustainability: The state pension age, the level of advanced funding from the government, and the level of government debt.
  • Integrity: Regulations and governance put in place to protect plan members.

These three measures were used to rank the pension system of 43 different countries, representing more than 65% of the world’s population. This year’s iteration of the index notably includes four new countries—Iceland, Taiwan, UAE, and Uruguay.

The Full Ranking

When it comes to the best pension plans across the globe, Iceland, the Netherlands, and Denmark have the top three systems.

CountryOverall ValueAdequacySustainabilityIntegrity
🇦🇷 Argentina41.552.727.743.0
🇦🇺 Australia75.067.475.786.3
🇦🇹 Austria53.065.323.574.5
🇧🇪 Belgium64.574.936.387.4
🇧🇷 Brazil54.771.224.171.2
🇨🇦 Canada69.869.065.776.7
🇨🇱 Chile67.057.668.879.3
🇨🇳 China55.162.643.559.4
🇨🇴 Colombia58.462.046.269.8
🇩🇰 Denmark82.081.183.581.4
🇫🇮 Finland73.371.461.593.1
🇫🇷 France60.579.141.856.8
🇩🇪 Germany67.979.345.481.2
🇭🇰 Hong Kong61.855.151.187.7
🇮🇸 Iceland84.282.784.686.0
🇮🇳 India43.333.541.861.0
🇮🇩 Indonesia50.444.743.669.2
🇮🇪 Ireland68.378.047.482.1
🇮🇱 Israel77.173.676.183.9
🇮🇹 Italy53.468.221.374.9
🇯🇵 Japan49.852.937.561.9
🇰🇷 Korea48.343.452.750.0
🇲🇾 Malaysia59.650.657.576.8
🇲🇽 Mexico49.047.354.743.8
🇳🇱 Netherlands83.582.381.687.9
🇳🇿 New Zealand67.461.862.583.2
🇳🇴 Norway75.281.257.490.2
🇵🇪 Peru55.058.844.264.1
🇵🇭 Philippines42.738.952.535.0
🇵🇱 Poland55.260.941.365.6
🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia58.161.750.962.5
🇸🇬 Singapore70.773.559.881.5
🇿🇦 South Africa53.644.346.578.5
🇪🇸 Spain58.672.928.178.3
🇸🇪 Sweden72.967.873.780.0
🇨🇭 Switzerland70.065.467.281.3
🇹🇼 Taiwan51.840.851.969.3
🇹🇭 Thailand40.635.240.050.0
🇹🇷 Turkey45.847.728.666.7
🇦🇪 UAE59.659.750.272.6
🇬🇧 UK71.673.959.884.4
🇺🇾 Uruguay60.762.149.274.4
🇺🇲 U.S.61.460.963.659.2
Average61.062.251.772.1

Iceland’s system ranks high across all three sub-indexes. The country offers a state pension with two components: mandatory contributions from both employees and employers, and optional contributions to state-approved pension products.

Its system has a high contribution rate, which ultimately results in a generous state pension that retirees in Iceland can tap into. The country also has a relatively low gender pension gap, meaning the difference between the average female pension versus male pension is relatively small—especially compared to other OECD countries.

gender gap pensions oecd

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Philippines, Argentina, and Thailand scored the lowest on the ranking.

Thailand scores particularly low in the adequacy category, with a score of 35.2. To increase its score, Thailand could increase the minimum payments for its poorest demographic and include more employees in occupational pension schemes.

Recommendations for Better Pension Plans

According to the index, countries seem to be steadily improving their pension systems. From 2020 to 2021, the average score of the overall index increased by 1.0.

With an average of 60.7, the index shows that most countries’ systems have some good features, but they also have some significant shortcomings that could be addressed by the following recommendations:

  • Boosting adequacy by increasing coverage, and including more employees in private pensions systems.
  • Increasing sustainability by adjusting retirement pension age to reflect increasing life expectancy, and promoting higher workforce participation from older citizens.
  • Raise integrity by introducing policies that reduce the gender pension gap and discrepancies amongst minorities.

Countries that implement even a few of these changes could make a huge difference for their next generation of retirees—and those that don’t could be in trouble in the near future.

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