6 Questions to Ask Your Advisor

July 15, 2014 - John Osbon (3 mins to read)

Are you considering a new investment advisor? Or reflecting on an existing investment relationship? Or just wondering if you are getting the best for your money? Then use this six question investment checkup checklist as your guide. Ask your current advisor and any prospective advisor.  By the time you are done, you’ll know if you and your money are in the right place.

Follow the money
The best single rule for understanding your investment management relationship is to watch the money trail. If you can see and understand how your money and your advisor’s money are related – and why – you can recognize a good fit, or more importantly, avoid a bad fit or even a scoundrel!Why

  1. Who do you work for? There are two types of investment managers: broker-dealers (manufacturer-distributors who are paid commissions and other fees to sell you things) and registered investment advisors (RIAs) who earn a fee for advice and nothing else.  Osbon Capital is a family owned, family run registered investment advisor. We work for you.
  2. How do you choose investments? RIAs have a fiduciary legal standard to meet. We must, in every action and recommendation, put your interests first. Broker-dealers must meet only a much looser “suitability” standard, and have no obligation to reveal conflicts of interest.  Osbon Capital has a fiduciary responsibility to always act in your best interest.
  3. How much will the market go up this year? No one knows the answer to this question (or this one: Which stocks will beat the market next year?) Any advisor who answers it with a prediction is guessing. We don’t guess. We build low cost index portfolios that provide exposure to a wide range of assets classes. Your financial well-being will never rest on our hunch or whim.
  4. What’s your investment track record? How did your advisor do over the last 10 years?  See this Jason Zweig article that describes how hard it can be to get a straight answer on this one. http://blogs.wsj.com/moneybeat/2014/07/11/financial-advisers-show-us-your-numbers/ Osbon Capital results are always available since our 2005 inception, for all accounts.  We think you deserve to know.
  5. How much experience do you have?  How long have you had sole discretionary responsibility for managing other people’s money?  For me, it’s been 30+ years.  I’ve seen every kind of economy, market, political climate, interest rate environment, etc. 
  6. How am I unique? Show me in writing.  This is important. Make sure your advisor really understands what your financial situation is all about. We’ve hard-wired this into our process. All investors see the discipline and transparency of our Investment Practices and the individual Investment Uptake that captures their unique goals and factors.

If you find an advisor who can answer these questions to your satisfaction, you’re on the right track. From there, just make sure you feel comfortable with him or her on a personal level. You’ll most likely be working together for decades, so you want someone who you can talk with candidly.

John Osbon – josbon@osboncapital.com

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