Note from the editor: Mike got help from an Advice-Only financial advisor on a custom investment plan. He kindly agreed to share his experience. Names were removed for privacy reasons. Getting the right help at an early stage to get on the right track is really smart. I wish I had done it when I first started. I would’ve avoided my costly mistakes.
I’m a young professional with a good income. I already have what I would consider a diverse allocation of assets, but I’ve always wanted a professional appraisal and advice in optimizing for long-term gains and retirement. I didn’t engage any advisor because I didn’t want to get a sales pitch for buying bad investment products or having my assets managed for a large recurring fee.
When I heard of Advice-Only, I signed up. That’s exactly the type of advisor I wanted: an unbiased advisor who gives me advice for an honest fee.
I had three candidates in my local area. I made an appointment for a phone call or face-to-face meeting with each one.
Advisor #1 talked through his strategies with me and discussed specific limitations of my existing portfolio by actually looking through my statements. He showed me supporting evidence to back up his preferences. After the hour was up I was already reasonably confident that I would be satisfied with the results he might give me.
Advisor #2 does both financial planning and tax preparation. It seemed to me he wasn’t hugely interested in financial planning over tax work. He said that he would be happy to take me on but given my position, it might not be worth doing intensive retirement planning now. I appreciated his candor but wanted someone more invested.
Advisor #3 spoke to me at length about her general role in planning and giving high-level advice on not only financial strategy but also insurance and estate planning. She came across as both knowledgeable and passionate about not only financial planning in general, but the concept of avoiding unnecessary assets-under-management expenses. I’d have gone with her if Advisor #1 hadn’t so directly and thoroughly talked shop with me during his interview.
None of the three advisors tried to sell me anything other than their time and expertise.
I chose to work with Advisor #1. Now that I’m completed implementing the plan I’m very pleased with his services. He tailored a fund blend for all my different pools of money (401k with one institution, IRAs in another, taxable accounts) that I really like. He set them up so that there were enough funds to really get value out of periodic rebalancing, but not so many funds that it was overly burdensome for me to manage on my own. He consistently had hard data available to show me the underpinnings of his decisions and took the time to explain why to me in the rare instances where he picked funds without rock bottom fees.
He was pleasant to work with, as well. He was friendly and professional in all our interactions, and he didn’t shy away from answering the multiple follow-up questions I had when initially implementing the final plans. I ended up paying $500, which I feel is good value for the services I received.