Is there a truly *independent* financial advisor?!

As I’m reviewing where my retirement and other money is, I’ve asked for ideas from Chase and Morgan Stanley and now an *independent* - but who is ultimately recommending everything switch to him in load funds, annuities, etc.  

I’m skeptical.  With funds that seem to have from 2-2.5% fees annually, it really cuts down on long term yield.  And I’m assuming the annuities pay huge commissions. 

Is there truly such a thing as an independent advisor who can look at these proposals and tell me what’s smArt and not?

As an aside.... there’s a recommendation for whole life insurance, being pitched to me as an “asset transfer” — really??

First of all, guys at the bank are the last place to go for financial advice.

I would suggest Vanguard, but even better, buy the fund sections: DIA, if you want the DOW or SPDR for the S & P 500. Both would charge a $7.00 in-and-out fee for commission with Etrade or whatever stock brokerage.

There are independent advisors where you pay a fee for the consultation with the understanding that they will not try to sell you anything.

As with any other purchase you need to do your homework and have some idea of your needs and wants before making an investment decision.  How close are you to retirement? Will these investments serve as the basis of your income on retirement?  How much risk do you want to assume? What return are you looking for?  Are there certain types of investments you want to avoid for social or political reasons?  What are your tax concerns?  Do you plan to leave some of your investments to your heir(s)?  All of these concerns need to be presented to the financial adviser you consult before you can come up with a plan that will work best for you.  If you need a guaranteed income on retirement, you may want to look into an annuity.  If not, you may want to avoid them.  Each person's needs are different. 

The 1% of financial advisors who are independent have already made all the money they need and are advising now because they like it     

There are very few truly independents out there that work for a fee mostly because most people do not want to pay a fee for services (and that applies to many industries).  Typically the fees are fairly hefty and you could easily pay over 1% of assets for advice.  

Annuity commissions vary greatly but the major carriers no longer pay huge commissions.  For the most part they have no impact on the yield since you are tying up the money for many years.  

I have a lot of money with Vanguard --- great funds but no investment advice and their service is mediocre.  

Do you follow world affairs?  Do things seem stable to you?  I am not a financial adviser (far from it), but considering what's happening politically in our own country and worldwide, I'm not sure now's the optimal time to try to maximize investments.  I know a lot of people who have invested in precious metals. 

We met with this one and found her very helpful:

To answer the original question, no.

First off, you're competent and capable of doing it yourself. Bogleheads provides all the info you need to combat the idea that you can find someone to 'beat the market', or who will care as much about your money as you do.  

Most financial pros are salespeople who get compensated by sticking you with extra costs.  That might be fine if the product was 'better' than average, but it doesn't exist other than by chance. If they had a 'sure thing' they would open up a hedge fund.  Hedge funds are not doing so well. If they don't do well, what are you getting for the extra costs?

If you still want to talk with someone, here are your choices: the Garrett Planning Network will help you find fee-based planners with fiduciary responsibilities.  The major retailers Vanguard, Fidelity, Schwab will have salespeople who will talk to you and offer model portfolios with low expenses. 

Be sure you know what you're buying. Paying 1% of your assets year over year for a couple of hours of conversation really hurts your bottom line.

I found the one above thru Garrett Planning Network.  One time fee ($500 I think) for meeting.  She recommends annual check-ins, which we haven't done (not enough has changed).  So quite reasonable if you want an outside look and conversation.

I don't think so. I think investors exist in one of three categories:

1) People that know what they're doing. You're reading all the blogs and keeping up on things, you know the impact of the choices you make.

2) People that don't know what they're doing, that have some financial advisor helping them, and that financial advisor isn't quite 'swindling' them, but they're probably investing in products that have way too many fees - which is all part of the system that financial advisors live in. They probably don't think they're selling you crappy advice, but in the end when it comes to financial advice most advice is essentially crappy. I mean, it all had potential to be good advice - but it didn't turn out that way.

3) People that know they're not going to really keep up on things, and know that they don't want to waste their money in the financial advisor game and just stick their money in a low-cost index fund. You're not going to end up being a billionaire accidentally, but for the most part your money will grow with the economy. If there's a major financial catastrophe and society collapses it'll be worthless, sure. The only thing then that will be worth money is the armor piercing bullets in your machine gun mounted on the back of your Ford F-150.

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