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Fees

Who's Really Paying Your Financial Adviser

Photo by Randall Honold on Unsplash

Despite a series of financial planning scandals over the last few years, the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry has shocked the country as it uncovers extraordinary levels of dishonesty and unethical conduct.

Many people are probably wondering if they should trust anyone in the financial services industry ever again.

If you’re one of those people, I understand how you feel.

To help you make sense of what’s been uncovered, over coming weeks, I’d like to break down some of the individual stories to help you understand what happened and how you might avoid similar problems.

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Hidden Costs of Buyers Agents

Photo by Kate Ausburn on Unsplash

One of the biggest problems with conflicts of interest, apart from their impact, is that we simply dismiss them from our minds – particularly when they’ve been brought to our attention.

Consider the Buyer’s Agent. If you want to buy real estate, a buyer’s agent works for you to get you the property you want. Because of their objectivity and disinterest, they can negotiate without getting emotional or swept up in the moment. Because of their experience they’re able to negotiate great prices and avoid the tricks and traps set by wily real estate agents.

Buyer’s agents often promote the idea they will be able to negotiate a lower price for a property than you could.

But, to what extent is this true?

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Photo by Ferdinand Stöhr on Unsplash

Recently, ASIC penalised super fund Spaceship for making false and misleading statements about its GrowthX fund.

ASIC took issue with Spaceship’s claim it was actively managing the portfolio and being selective in deciding which stocks to include and which to omit, based on profitability and product differentiation.

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Justin Brand

Every week I’m asked:

How do I check if my investment advisor has given me good advice?

My answer:

How is your investment portfolio performing against the index (or average) of the markets in which you are invested?

And in my experience, the majority of people I ask tell me that they don’t know.

There are other factors that determine good investment advice besides performance. But it surprises me how many intelligent people don’t think to check the performance of their portfolio against the average market return. Especially when they’re paying an advisor a fee for investment advice.

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Get mortgage free and own your home faster

Get mortgage free and own your home faster

Bad decisions on a $400,000 home loan can easily cost you $100,000.

If you already have a mortgage, it’s not too late to fix old mistakes (or avoid making them with your next loan).

You should review your mortgage every 2 years anyway.

Why? Because less income needed to payout your mortgage means more money for other areas of your life. Your mortgage is probably the biggest financial commitment you will make in life. It is easy to get right and just as easy to get completely wrong.

Most people are surprised to find out that a low interest rate is not the most significant factor in reducing mortgage cost and paying out a loan faster.

You won’t see lenders advertising most of the tactics available to you, as it’s not in their best interests – the longer it takes to payout your loan, the more money they make. Lenders make money by lending you as much as possible, for as long as possible and with fees as high as they can get away with.

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Photo Credit: smiscandlon

Have you ever thought about how much you’re really paying for the advice you got from your financial planner? The direct costs are one part – and I think you should look at those closely to ensure you’re getting value – but take a look at the indirect costs.

Keeping costs down are a key to wealth – high costs put your future at risk.

Some of the most significant costs are hidden in your portfolio and are caused by product selection and your advisor’s bias towards actively managed funds.

Although most financial advisors recommend actively managed funds, in reality, the net return of active funds are consistently below most passive investments or index funds.

But apart from the underperformance and additional cost of active funds, there is another cost, which is often overlooked when investors compare active and passive (index) fund portfolios – a cost I’ll cover later in this post.

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Photo Credit: Itani stock photos

Photo Credit: Itani stock photos

“He was actually a little uncomfortable and embarrassed”.

Last week I was contacted by Ross, a lawyer in Melbourne, who was concerned he was being charged unfairly for financial advice. He told me that his planner seemed “uncomfortable and embarrassed” about the fees he was obliged to charge.

Ross used the words “fee grab” to describe his current financial planning company’s new policy to charge an asset based fee (brokerage) for switching managed funds.

Financial planners need to charge for their advice and service. But in Ross’s eyes, this fee seemed to be excessive and incidental to the service.  

But this fee is not what gets me worked up. 

Ross‘s financial planner seemed to think this fee was disproportional to the value his company was providing for this transaction.

It’s hard not to conclude that this financial planner is putting the interests of his employer, and in turn his own interests, before his client’s.

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