How Valuable is a Financial Adviser?

Posted by: Lauren Young on January 22, 2009

For the past few weeks, BusinessWeek has been asking readers to talk to us about financial advisers. So far, we have heard from plenty of “do-it-yourselfers” on why they don’t use an adviser. Thanks to those of you for your comments!

But the folks who actually work with an adviser have been pretty silent thus far, except for a few very disgruntled people who have had terrible experiences.

To clarify: The reason we are asking for your input is because we are putting together a special report on financial advisers. And we hope to share your stories in a slideshow format (with actual photos of you and/or your family!) included in the lineup. This is your opportunity to speak out and be heard.

So, to get the juices flowing, some of the things we still want to know:

Did your adviser do a good job of preserving your wealth in 2008?

Did you switch advisers recently? If so, why, and how did you manage the break up?

Did you do any sleuthing before you forked over your money to your current adviser? If so, how did you size up an adviser’s education, experience, and credentials?

How often do you actually talk to your adviser? Do you communicate by email or by phone? Twitter? Facebook?

Has your adviser made any surprising or unusual recommendations recently?

What’s the best piece of advice your financial adviser has ever given you?

Is there anything else you want to say about your adviser, or advisers in general? Tell us what you think.

Reader Comments

Elaine

January 22, 2009 6:22 PM

1. My financial advisor did the best she could under the circumstances. NO ONE did well in 2008.

2. No; had the same advisor for years.

3. Interviewed a couple of advisors; liked this one because she listened to me and worked with my goals.

4. We communicate primarily by email; she insists on at least one face-to-face per year and preferably two.

5. No surprises; she's pretty conventional, but really knowledgeable, so I feel like we see eye to eye on stuff. And she's grateful because I tend not to panic when the market does.

6. She put me into an actively-managed fund, which I had never heard of before and which has turned out extremely well. She's also pushing me to get long-term care insurance. I currently look after my mother, who doesn't have that, so I clearly see the need. And she had me convert my traditional to a Roth IRA, even though I had a HUGE tax liability that year as a result; accountants were strongly against that at the time, but now she looks like a genius.

I use her because I don't feel like I know nearly enough to make good decisions, and I don't have the time to get smart. And I pay her based on the value of my portfolio (NOT just on trades), so we're on the same side of the table in terms of goals.

Happy to answer other questions if you'd like. Not real interested in the slide-show thing, but she might be!

Kevin

January 23, 2009 5:44 PM

1. My advisor is no-better at predicting the future of the market than I am. Therefore I would have lost money with or without her. You really have to question the value of a financial advisor based on this.

2. Yes, I switched to a do-it-yourself strategy and didn't feel the extra fees I was paying were worth the service I received.

3. I was young, so I didn't interview too many advisors. I wanted to start investing ASAP.

4. The only time my advisor would want to meet with me was when she wanted to sell me another financial product. I would email her but it would take days for her to respond.

5. My adviser was a fan of loading my portfolio with tons of mutual funds. I had 10 funds in my IRA! You regularly only need 4 at MOST.

6. Unfortunaley nothing I can think of. Again, when you think about it, these advisors are no better at predicting the future than you are. Don't let all their credentials and letters at the end of their name fool you. They really are sales people, and you shouldn't ever take financial advice from a sales person.

If you NEED to pick an advisor, try to make it a fee-only advisor so there is no conflict of interest.

Phil

January 23, 2009 7:11 PM

1. No. That's because I chose to be all in cash for the last 6 months. Haven't lost a cent. In fact, I've made money. In 2002, my FA managed to lose about 40% of my portfolio. I refused to let that happen again.

2. No.

3. Yes, he was with Merrill at that time. It was a good company then (16 years ago.)

4. About once or twice a month. I call to make trades or take distributions. I no longer take his advice, and he doesn't offer any.

5. No.

6. He advised me well - when the market was going up. "Just hang in there" when the market was going down.

Other: A trained chimp can make money in an up market. The trick is to protect the client in a down market. But they won't do that because they are rewarded - in most cases - for selling stocks. To be successful, you simply must take responsibility for your own portfolio. It's not that hard. I'm conviced most people can invest as well as the so-called professionals and avoid their outrageous fees at the same time.

Cindy

January 23, 2009 9:45 PM

A lot of people use Financial Advisor services but not speaking out is that any earning that the advisor achieve for the client is viewed as the financial advisor doing their job. I have never heard of anyone sending a card thanking their financial advisor when their portfolio received 20% or 30% of earning at the end of the year. All we've heard of are the bad news coming out of this field, albeit it's hard finding someone good in managing your portfolio yet trust-worthy. Unfortunately these two characteristics just don't go hand-in-hand. A prudent financial advisor often does not earn the same income as the likeable and popular financial advisor who's boasting his/ her competency. Hence, the key would be to inquire the financial advisor whom his/ her team of analyst is behind the scene while the advisor is busy prospecting and marketing his/her business.

SCE

January 24, 2009 1:17 PM

The issue for us is that we are doing a very diversified stock portfolio in mutual funds. The problem with this strategy is that it will basically mirror the overall market. Had we had a frank discussion about asset allocation when the market was at 14K +/- and gone to a heavy emphasis of cash - much of the downside risk would have been taken out of the plan. I have yet to find a financial advisor say "we are approximating the top here so you should seriously consider leaving opportunity on the table for removing downside risk because your portfolio will tend to mirror the market and the propects are high a correction is due". So it would seem that the advisor must relate to the needs of the client in terms of their need for liquidity but also asset allocation is crucial. Proper asset allocation for preservation of yield is crucial. So it would seem that todays advise would be to get in with some exposure to downside but certainly not 14K to 8K.

Jessie Puchon

January 24, 2009 6:07 PM

My husband and I use two financial advisors as well as establishing an account at a brokerage firm. The reason we did this is to compare the services of the various firms and to get different viewpoints to help us form a strategy. I found that the advisors and their firms have different expertise or better pricing/inventories.

Luck was a big help in preserving some of our savings. We were about 50% in cash/treasuries before the market took a nosedive. We took our time to evaluate the advice of our advisors and this saved us. I would say that we are comfortable with our advisors however; there is always room for improvements.

Our advisors meet with us quarterly to review our portfolio performance and to discuss our next steps. This year, one of our advisors did an assessment of our situation to assess if we should change our asset allocation. I thought that this was a good idea but I decided to do the asset allocation myself given my background and expertise. I provided the new asset mix to our advisors and one advisor has been trying to implement our strategy within reason.

In these volatile times, it helps to have an advisor who spends some time talking to the client. The buy and hold strategy does not work even for funds set aside for retirement. There are opportunities and rotating out of some positions into other asset classes or styles may help improve the portfolio. But I think communication is key and the information given should always include the risk involved.

Our other advisor is not as active or forthcoming. I seem to have to light a fire under them. I am Not exactly sure if that team is more conservative or just busy with wealthier clients. An advice I would give to your readers in hiring an advisor is to check the teams background, number of accounts, what types of accounts do they manage and how will your account be treated (where do you fit in terms of priority), Also check out the competence of the firm such as are they strong in fixed income, equity, annuities etc.

Hopefully this helps. I would be more than happy to discuss my thoughts further. I think investors should be knowledgeable when it comes to their money and sometimes I wonder if this really happens.

Dick

January 25, 2009 9:04 AM

Financial Advisor believes in buy and hold and I disagree so now do it myself. Takes too many years to recoup losses for those of us in the over 55 crowd!

Christopher

January 26, 2009 12:15 AM

I don't use a financial adviser. Why?
First you pay for advise and then you lose money!!

When the market turns down, your adviser is helpless. Everything he recommended goes down too. The market does not care that you paid an adviser

Richard

January 27, 2009 5:15 PM

I feel qualified to do my own analysis, but want to hear what someone active in the field is saying. In Oct. 2007 , partially due to my advisor's advice, I went to 40% cash. Enough said.

lydia dishman

January 27, 2009 6:07 PM

My financial advisor helps a lot of female clients particularly because she understands (and says in her initial consultation) that she understands personal finance is an emotional issue as well as a monetary one.

She communicates well and often, and will patiently explain to the non-numbers-oriented (me), the basics and benefits of all types of investments.

No one had a good year last year, but she kept in close contact with me, and was there to answer my panicked emails and phone calls in a caring and informative way.

Especially in times of financial crisis, it helps to hear from a level-headed expert who can offer insight, examples, and strategies to weather the downturn.

Chris Lind

January 27, 2009 7:25 PM

Did your adviser do a good job of preserving your wealth in 2008? - absolutely! We're only down 18% for the year. Could be worse...

Love our current advisor. My husband and I vetted all of his credentials and called references prior to forking over the dough.. We are slowly moving over pieces of a rollover fund, so far he has about 1/3 of the total. The rest is self-managed.

We talk to our advisor over the phone and email. Twice a year we meet in person and go through a deck he prepares for us which details our activity and how we can do better.

So far there have been no surprising calls or rec's.

Best advice so far has been to sell off some of the financial sector funds (mid last year) and move a larger portion of dollars into int'l (early last year) and prime funds (Nov. '08) to wait out the storm...

Frederick

January 27, 2009 8:54 PM

Did your adviser do a good job of preserving your wealth in 2008? No, but then I don't know anybody who did well.

Did you switch advisers recently? If so, why, and how did you manage the break up? No. We never even talked about it. After 20 years, we don't scare easily.

Did you do any sleuthing before you forked over your money to your current adviser? If so, how did you size up an adviser’s education, experience, and credentials? We researched the difference between a CFP and the other types and decided the extra cost for independent advice was worth it.

How often do you actually talk to your adviser? Do you communicate by email or by phone? Twitter? Facebook? Emails and yearly in-person reviews. We've been with the same CFP for 20 years, so we pretty much know the drill.

Has your adviser made any surprising or unusual recommendations recently? No. That's not her style.

What’s the best piece of advice your financial adviser has ever given you? Steady nerves when everyone else is panicking equals long term winner.

MS

January 28, 2009 12:32 AM

You need an advisor who isn't pushing products or tied to a big firm (i.e. any of the bailout bunch). Someone who is truly objective is hard to find. Some one who is objective AND willing to do due dilligence is priceless.

Tom Donald

January 28, 2009 1:30 AM

I've worked with the same advisor for twelve years, and it's fair to say that my portfolio has seen its ups and downs, right along with the market it mirrors. However, over the longer term of ten years, I've experienced unquestioned, and in some cases, spectacular growth.

I've noticed that some of the other respondents questioned why their advisors did not foresee the recent downturn and accordingly, put them into cash. As a strong proponent of the efficient market theory, my feeling is that no one can predict the future with any degree of accuracy. I'll go further to suggest that no one ever has, and no one ever will. And what's more, those who purport to do so are either lying, or delusional.

Therefore, all one can do is rely on the decades of evidence which in my opinion indicate that intelligent asset allocation, tailored to the needs and desires of the individual, is the only way to invest. Especially for those of us who don't want to make a career of staring at annual reports, balance sheets and Morningstar, while trying to choose between the myriad of stocks, bonds, funds and every other available investment vehicle.

That's what my advisor does. He listens when I describe my investment goals and he recommends appropriate choices. He does not offer guarantees, he does not attempt to foretell what will happen. He designs a plan, asks for my input and then we implement the plan. We review the portfolio on a quarterly basis and make changes as we see fit.

No one enjoys a recession, perhaps least of all financial advisors. But downturns are a fact of investment life, just as are upturns. They come and they go. And every time we experience a down cycle, there will always be those in the doom-and-gloom crowd who are all too ready to portend unmitigated disaster, in dusting off the same, tired "life as we know it will never be the same" postulates.

Hiring an advisor did not turn me into an inveterate optimist; for various reasons I've always enjoyed that trait. What my advisor has done, however, is helped me focus my attention on the horizon, on the goals of the portfolio, instead of the daily machinations of the market.

I have no idea what the market is going to do, or when the turnaround will come. And neither does my advisor. But I do believe it will turn around, and when it does, I know I'll thank him for positioning my portfolio to take maximal advantage. And as for the issue of fees, he'll have earned it.

Bettie Blauser

January 28, 2009 2:20 AM

We love our financial advisor and hear from him often! The beginning of 2008 was a great year for us as we did not loose any money due to the intellegence of our advisor. And lucky for us that we followed his advice, as in August my husband suffered from a brain aneurism that rupture and we have been able to continue to pay our bills for the last 5 months of 2008. Our advisor was one of the first people that I called to get his financial adice. We are currently living on half our income and pulling from the "Emergency Fund" our advisor insisted we have. I can only say, Thank God we have him.

Klaus Wagner

January 28, 2009 4:51 AM

I have excellent advisors, who's advice well before the recent debacle was to stay in alternative investments for capital gains and stable preferred, stock for income.

However, I must say, I find the type of article you are planning quite distasteful. Financial voyeurism targeting the disillusioned masses - not what I would expect from a grizzly old rag like Business Week. You may soon join the has-beens you so like to gloat over.

KP

DC

January 28, 2009 8:15 AM

Did your adviser do a good job of preserving your wealth in 2008? Yes, relative to the S & P 500. But, more importantly, he advised me against increasing my equity allocation in the summer of 2007.

Did you switch advisers recently? No. I was one of the lucky ones. I found an adviser that is honest.

Did you do any sleuthing before you forked over your money to your current adviser? No. I relied entirely upon recommendations from my family members. How did you size up an adviser’s education, experience, and credentials? Only after the fact. I got lucky!

How often do you actually talk to your adviser? Twice a year face-to-face. Do you communicate by email or by phone? Both

Has your adviser made any surprising or unusual recommendations recently? Advocated taking positons in closed-ended mutual funds midway through 2008.

What’s the best piece of advice your financial adviser has ever given you? To not major his results on a monthly basis.

Arlington, VA

January 28, 2009 10:36 AM

We went to a financial advisor 10+ years ago when we had 401Ks, stocks, mutual funds, college funds and stock options all over the place. We did a lot of research and ended up with an advisor that matched our planning philosophy.
Our portfolio did better than the market in 2008 and has a strong belief in holding steady through the tough times.
We have an annual plan and portfolio review, plus correspond by email, phone and website.
No surprising recommendations in 2008 because they don't work that way.
The best piece of advice we received was to hang in there and not obsess about the ups and downs. History plays itself over time and time again.
One of the best things we ever did is go with our financial planner, Yeske Buie, who has been recognized time and time again in the U.S. and overseas, for their "life planning" approach and success in making their clients' lives easier, while reaching their financial goals. We are big fans!

Ric Hinkie

January 28, 2009 11:53 AM

In terms of preserving wealth in 2008, the results were reasonable. Losses in equities, but preferred stocks and other capital preservation tools helped mitigate.

In terms of selecting an advisor, we began with a person who was very invested in the community, did not seem to be hungry for the fees, but rather just loved the markets and advising people. He later hooked up with a full service money manager in a larger city. They offered a total approach--looking over our family trust, insurance, etc. Yet the fees were still 1% or less.

We communicate mostly by email. They are 90 miles away. They are always happy to meet, however.

The best piece of advice overall, is to keep the faith and to keep a good asset allocation given that we have only been retired a year.

THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE FOR US IN USING AN ADVISOR IS THIS...while we are intelligent enough and could manage the funds ourselves, we want to contribute to our community. We do not want to be fixated on our financial issues, making trades, always researching, too often being a bit late and letting things go. Knowing that a professional organization is paying attention and can make the moves they feel are best so we can live fuller lives of service is what we want. I have friends who obsess about the market every day, tell me they are up and down, etc. Not where I want to be. We are on the boards of or volunteer for Habitat, Church council, motorcycle club, Big Brother/Sister, etc. That is where we want to invest our time.

Ritch

January 28, 2009 1:03 PM

We added a "fee" financial advisor a couple years ago, as retirement came within a 10 year window. We also maintained a stock broker with existing investments, and attempted to discern a difference in approach, style, and results.

We have relatively good personal financial market knowledge and many years experience, but not the time to make specific market calls, extensive product knowledge to diversify adequately, or current education to know the newest methodologies.

The financial advisor worked to goals of capital preservation, and the broker to gains, so we realized the results would diverge. The overall result over the last 1-2 years was partial advisor advice, and partially our own desire to become more conservative. The advisor helped significantly in establishing, explaining, influencing, and moving us into the more conservative investments, as we had been relatively aggressive for many years.

The financial advisor placed our funds in income producing investments, tax reduction initiatives, a conservative stock mix, and an annuity. The broker generally maintained aggressive, moderate, and "blue chip" long-term stock, fund, and bond investments. There are occasional adjustments for gains, losses, large company changes, or asset mix reallocation, but that portion is mostly “buy and hold”.

We have seen the long-term investments drop 30% or more with the general market, and got the advice to "hold on", to be in the market when it turns. We have not recognized any losses, and anticipate riding back up.

The more conservative portion of the mix has also declined slightly in total, but we consider that a success in this market. Some parts are up, and other parts pay dividends and interest regularly, and hold value. The tax reduction initiatives are certainly a big gain. The advisor also cautions us to stay in the market to be in the upturn, rather than cashing out and trying to time it. “Invest long term and don't stress short term”, seems to work.

We anticipate the stock broker's portion will show greater gains after the market turns, based on historical actuals, but we have had less at risk in the down market, due to the financial advisor's knowledge and assistance. The advisor's accounts should continue the steady growth in an up market, and averaging all will fulfill our investment goals long-term.

Clearly (to us anyway) cashing out – even if you know the “top” - generates tax consequences that could offset any protection you anticipate, so that is not one of our strategies. We believe in the maxim that we must be in the market to catch upturns, and have practiced that over our investing life. Cash holdings have been few and far between and we did not do it over this period to any great extent (even though we questioned both broker and advisor, after the down market was "down").

Our financial advisor started our relationship with a definition of our goals and we jointly established a plan to the future. That plan has done as we anticipated, in a market that was not anticipated. We were referred to this advisor, and did do some “due diligence” research on him and personal contact to determine “fitness” before investing.

We believe both earn their fees and commissions, as they provide a service we can not do ourselves without a decrement to our lifestyle. We also pay an Accountant, gardener, and housekeeper to do things their expertise allows them to do better, faster, or cheaper than we could. Reduction of these activities allows us to do more pleasant things. Of course, we review and approve the work of them all, and personally manage our own 401k investments; melding advice from both the broker and advisor.

We talk to the advisor a couple times a month via E-mail or phone, and meet personally 3-4 times a year. We talk to the broker by phone about monthly and meet less than annually.

Derek Beisner

January 28, 2009 3:38 PM

William Jordan is not only my personal financial advisor, but as a Certified Mortgage Planner he is also my client's advisor as well. I often refer to him as a Financial Genius! I can tell you this, my clients have nothing but great things to say about him and they way he handles their investments.
Derek Beisner
Premier Lending Group

Rich Yardley

January 28, 2009 7:04 PM

I have worked with William specifically in the context of college funding. He is remarkable in his ability to assimilate large volumes of complex (and often conflicting) information and present it in simple terms that are extremely applicable to his client's (i.e., my) situation.

I have worked with several advisors over the years, mostly at "arms length". They tended to have a "one size fits all" approach to finance. All were well credentialed, but couldn't meet my needs, mainly due to my peculiarities. William has the ability to bring value in spite of the shortcomings of his client.

I mainly communicate with William via e-mail, maybe twice a month. His recommendations are surprising to me, but always make sense when he explains them. He understands the rules of engagement, and applies sound principles to maximize my financial position. Nothing tricky here, just a lot of hard work and a wealth of experience on William's part.

The best advice William has given me is to re-package my assets, and to define them in ways that maximize my ability to fund my children's education. While the immediate goal is to maximize college funding, the scope of the analysis comprises my entire financial situation, including (but not limited to) tax consequences.

I feel very fortunate to have met William. I am recommending him to several of my associates.

John

January 28, 2009 11:57 PM

1. My adviser did a good job of preserving wealth, but mostly because he forced me to follow a plan 3 years ago that included an investment policy statement that wouldn't allow me to stray when I wanted too before the meltdown. I was still down for the year, but not like I could have been.
2. Wouldn't switch.
3. I did some research and honestly, just went with my gut feeling after our first meeting. Probably not the best way to go.
4. I talk to my adviser as much as 3 times a week although sometimes more. We communicate by phone, email or text message.
5. No.
6. The best piece of advice I ever received was to look at my wealth as more than just my investment portfolio, but my entire family wealth. We work with a family office (Legacy Family Offices) and they have worked with us to preserve all areas of our wealth.

Greg

January 29, 2009 7:56 AM

two years ago we hired a fee-only advisor, who only writes plans, doesn't manage assets at all. She has been great at educating us in areas we didn't know so much about. We checked references and credentials, all strong; we communicate by phone(distance) mostly but meet in person when needed. Best advice - specifics in our estate planning, about accomplishing our charitable goals as well as leaving specific money to our kids. Grace is great!

Many advisors are worth it!

January 29, 2009 10:56 AM

you pay an advisor to whom you will entrust your personal circumstances and allow him/her to use their experience to make sure planning and risk level are suitable. if you want to do it yourself, do it yourself and stop complaining about advisor fees. look for a CFP(r) or get a trusted referral. you are paying for their experience and expertise to weigh in on your circumstances, investments, liabilities, estate planning, insurance needs, etc. don't expect your stock broker to give you a great market call over and over. look for someone you trust, who cares about you and gives you his/her time. that's what you are paying for and why a good advisor is worth every penny.

Tim Scanlon

January 29, 2009 3:41 PM

Whoever invented the term "Investment Advisor" instead of SALESMAN was a genius!

My wife and I have our own business and had entrusted our retirement savings with the same advisor for 15 years. He averaged us about 4% per year (compounded)...pretty pathetic. He had the mother of all play books on excuses for poor performance and used them whenever we dared question him.

In November of 2007 we switched to a new advisor and reallocated our portfolio more in line with our wishes. Despite the fact that we remained fully invested in equities (and the market is down about 40% from that point in time) our portfolio is essentially at par with our November 2007 number.

Our new investment advisor...ourselves.

The turmoil in the equity markets has shown the mutual fund business for what it is...glorified order takers. 90% of all the gains are due to market momentum (alpha) and less then 50% of all actively traded mutual funds can beat the market.

"Investment Advisor's" better find another occupation as far as I'm concerned.

The sooner average American's wake up to this obvious fact the better.

mal sharpe

January 29, 2009 6:07 PM

1. As everyone has said, this has not been a good year but our Financial Planner has kept us up date with relatively reassuring, and timely emails. I think he has done as well as he could and I feel somewhat protected because of our diverse portfolio. I cannot picture getting through this period with his good advice. He returns phone calls and suggests articles and books to read.
3. We found this adviser through our accountant. She had a client who was with him during the dot.com meltdown and this client did better than all her other clients including herself---her father was a stock broker and they both lost their shirts.
3.Our adviser, Dave Yeske of Yeske/Buie, has also put us in touch with an excellence mortgage broker, a lawyer to create a living trust and he has given us sound advice on handling our rental property. We were always a little soft as landlords and he sketched out how we were costing ourselves money but not taking a yearly 4% rent increase. It is great to have a seasoned financial planner to bounce things off of---and he can explain complex issues clearly.

C.W.Flores

January 30, 2009 10:44 PM

I selected two of Vanguard's funds for my wife's 401(k)a few years ago. Then we decided to let Vanguard manage yer account. The extra four funds they added did much worse than the two I had originally chosen! In other words, financial advisers' knowledge of the stock market is no more valuable than an amateur's!

mkapital.com

January 31, 2009 10:05 AM

I made 30% in 2008, can't complain.

CPA

February 1, 2009 10:23 AM

My advise, with or without a adviser is to compare your monthly statement to the start of a year, and if down 10% sell all losers to cash, if down 20% sell all and go to cash.

Your monthly statement is like boiling frogs,they only compare to last month balances.

Advisers depend on being in the market the 10 best days.

Read "How to Make Money in Stocks" William O'Neil. Be gone at a 8% drop stock price.

It took me 8 years to recover from the 2000-1 drop. This cycle down 27% from a buy and hold adviser before I sold out in August 2008.

CPA

Fred

February 1, 2009 3:23 PM

Fire your financial advisor and be your own advisor. They want your money under their management regardless of performance. I've used a few and they all lost way too much money. Dump loosing proprietary funds and put your money in better funds making money.

Frank Loweser

February 2, 2009 1:57 PM

Did your adviser do a good job of preserving your wealth in 2008?
Are you kidding? He sold me hard on getting out of money markets and into equities in the first half of the year.

Did you switch advisers recently? If so, why, and how did you manage the break up?
For reasons I can't go into, I can't change. If I could, I would just choose a diversified selection of vanguard funds.

Did you do any sleuthing before you forked over your money to your current adviser? If so, how did you size up an adviser’s education, experience, and credentials? This manager had handled my wife's family's wealth, and when trusts and estates settled out and the siblings got their payouts, they were convinced to keep it with them. So, no real sleuthing.

How often do you actually talk to your adviser? Do you communicate by email or by phone? Twitter? Facebook?
E-mail. Seldom a phone call.

Has your adviser made any surprising or unusual recommendations recently?
No...having taken the enormous hit, they say the plan is still sound, we'll just have to wait longer for payoff. meantime, the nut is 40% less than it was a year after they had the money. I earned 4% when I managed it.

What’s the best piece of advice your financial adviser has ever given you? I can't think of anything.

Is there anything else you want to say about your adviser, or advisers in general? Tell us what you think.
My experience is that all advisers tell you "you can't time the market...you have to be in it, and hold (for retirement investing). For what these clowns earn, I'd like to have heard..."You know what...we are going to keep your money in Treasuries and money markets a while longer because we are uneasy about the markets at the moment...too much unpredictability." That's advice I would have gladly paid money for. They are like surgeons. They alwasy want to cut you even when surgery is not warranted.

Roger Heckman

February 2, 2009 6:11 PM

William has been great in giving us a holistic view of our investments, savings, age, desires, risk tolerance, etc..

He is part of our equation on a weekly basis. We meet with him regurlarly to review the macro and micro.

I am looking forward to the Life Planning Consultation as our next step.

Norman Weinstein

February 3, 2009 3:24 AM

My financial adviser is no better at predicting the future than any other person and so my portfolio was punished in 2008 as was everyone who held equities rather than bonds.
I don’t believe in changing advisors. Reasons for changing would be an alteration of the basic investing principles first presented without a solid rational explanation.
I looked carefully at the credentials and background of my advisor. I wanted to know whether he understood modern portfolio theory, the concept of asset chasses, the work done by economists in characterizing those classes and the theoretical background behind the value of a diversified portfolio.
I find no value in the complex formulas and “indicators” bandied about by people who try to impose meaning on a chaotic system. There has been work done on the best way to achieve good results. I know of no evidence that an actively managed fund or loaded fund performs better than low cost index funds which can reflect different asset classes.
I would be concerned if a surprising recommendation was made without a clear and persuasive explanation.
My advisor presents a total package such as recommendations on protecting assets other than equities as well as incorporating sound advice about prudent strategies relating to financial health.
I communicate both by phone and email as well as getting monthly reports which have been tailored for me.

Viking

February 4, 2009 1:50 PM

The obvious problem with financial advisers is that the good ones have already made a ton of money for themselves and are retired.The losers are the ones still out there trying to got people to let them manage their money for a fee,but as a rule almost always end up doing the wrong thing at the wrong time.

Jayson

February 7, 2009 4:24 PM

1. My financial advisor has helped preserve wealth and keep me diversified.
2. No I've had the same advisor for 10 years.
3. I picked him through a friend referral, and has done really well for me over the ten year period.
4. About every three months I go in for an appointment to do a review of my investments and my plans.
5. Nothing surprising, just the same as before, and just stating the realities of the market today and what it signifies in a historical context.
6. Stay invested in quality investment for the long term and you'll make money. He strongly suggests putting in money now that the market has dropped significantly in 08, because the prices are low and a great opportunity to make money for the long term.

Financial Advisors are good for those who don't know much about the market, and they are good because they help keep me focused on the long term strategy that we setup in the very beginning. It is interesting to the gains I've made over the years, and how much bigger they are than the losses.

They are great to have, as long as they don't charge you a fee for having them.

yugo t. sqreued

February 9, 2009 12:49 PM

Never used an advisor-glad I didn't-for the same reason I would not use an advisor when I go to Vegas, it's a pseudoscience, just like "Betting systems". I do about 1000 taxes per year, so far this year (2009- 1rst quarter), NOT ONE of my tax clients' financial advisors advised them to get out of the market at the highpoint...AVERAGE losses-30 to 50 pct!! Whatever happened to buy low and sell high- many of my clients did fairly well in the past 6 or 7 years, I mean, how long did their investment advisors think that the honeymoon would last? Some of these folks had accounts worth between $200K and $400K, now worth 1/2 that. Also, most (90 %) have hefty mortgages- had many of these people sold their stocks in late 2007 or early 2008, they could have paid off all or a substanial part of their mortages- I've yet to hear of an advisor recommend that someone pay off their mortgage.

peter M. Herford

February 18, 2009 3:46 AM

id your adviser do a good job of preserving your wealth in 2008?
Yes, by anticipating a move into cash and calming my instincts to sell.

Did you switch advisers recently? If so, why, and how did you manage the break up?
NO

Did you do any sleuthing before you forked over your money to your current adviser? If so, how did you size up an adviser’s education, experience, and credentials?

FA came recommended by a friend in the financial field who himself has an excellent record and reputation. My FA had long and respected experience in a major investment bank before becoming an FA.

How often do you actually talk to your adviser? Do you communicate by email or by phone? Twitter? Facebook?

I live and work in China. My FA is in the USA. We colmunicate by email for the most part with phone calls when the need is urgent.

Has your adviser made any surprising or unusual recommendations recently?

No surprises but prescient analysis and wise counsel.

What’s the best piece of advice your financial adviser has ever given you?

An endless series of do's and dont's when my rational mind leaves me and poor instincts cut in.

Sharon

March 30, 2009 7:51 PM

My financial advisor "misrepresentated" the fees attached to a fund in 2002. told me there was a 5 year aging process and have recently found out there is a 3 % BACK-END FEE.

I have reported him to the SEC. So far he is denying responsibiltiy. Has placed responsibility on me to have read prospectus.
Transaction was done over the phone before receiving prospectus based on my trust of advisor.

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About

Bloomberg Businessweek’s Ben Steverman focuses on the latest moves in financial markets and emerging trends in stocks, bonds, and funds, always with an eye toward giving readers a better understanding of the sometimes confusing and often chaotic world of money. Standard & Poor’s senior index analyst Howard Silverblatt will also provide his take on companies’ finances and the markets. Voted one of the “Top 100 Finance Blogs” in 2007.

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