Unless you are living under a rock, literally, you probably know that there is an eclipse across a wide swath of the United States today. It’s a biggie. We haven’t had one so clearly visible in the United States in a while and it looks like it will be 2024 until we’ll see another one. Solar eclipses, along with lunar and planetary eclipses are actually fairly common across the planet, with an eclipse of some celestial body or a partial eclipse generally happening a couple of times every year.
So, cosmically speaking, we have a fair amount of astronomical obstruction and you need special glasses to see it. Similarly, there may be a total eclipse obscuring the fees in your investment portfolio and you may need the investing equivalent of eclipse glasses with a solar filter to see those high and onerous fees!
It shouldn’t be difficult to understand how much you are paying for investment management and financial advising services, but with many providers, it can be. If you feel confident that all of your fees are on your statement, you may be surprised to learn that in many cases, they aren’t.
Many fees do make it onto statements, but with some, such as deferred sales loads, you may not realize that you are paying them until after you’ve made a decision to sell. Or, you may not remember an unusually high sales load that you paid up front. On top of that, most fees in mutual funds and ETFs aren’t usually explicitly called out on statements. To understand what you are really paying, you have to go research the fees on a site like Morningstar and then add in those management fees to determine your full fee picture. You’ll also have to dig pretty deep to determine if your broker is getting any sort of kick-back or commission on the products that they invested in on your behalf.
To help you got to the bottom of your fees, here are 5 questions to ask the person or firm helping you with your investments:
1) Are you a fiduciary and do you have to act in my best interest when making investments? If not, why not?
2) When you make an investment in my account, do you receive a commission, compensation or kick-back of any kind, if so, how much and how does it work.
3) What are the management fees of the products that I’m invested in and how do those fees compare to index funds and ETF or other similar products?
4) Did I pay any up front sales loads and are there any back end sales charges if I sell something? (Ouch if they get you both coming and going...)
5) When you add all the fees that I pay (or have paid) to you and to any other investment company or product that I am invested in, are my total fees under 1%? If not, why not.
Working with a fee only advisor and a company that generally uses low cost products and individual securities, such as J. Bradford Investment Management, can help you achieve a more transparent fee structure into your portfolio.
If you’d like a free evaluation of the fees you are currently paying, we provide free portfolio reviews so everyone can understand and evaluate the fees paid to their advisor or manager. With your solar filter glasses and your portfolio review, you’ll be glad neither your retina nor your portfolio get burned.
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