There’s nothing wrong with being efficient. But when you are being efficiently deceived by the mutual fund industry, then watch your wallet. I can prove to you in the next few hundred words how this deception is happening.
Are financial advisors doing any real research for their fees? Or is there simply the appearance of research? As you will find out, the research that is being done is nothing close to what you’d think you are paying for, and this is greatly hurting your future.
In other words, advisors are trained to make it look like they’re doing real research, but they’re not. It’s not the goal, it’s not what they’re paid for, and this hurts your returns – unless you understand this and know how to deal with this.
A study done by the Financial Research Corporation in 2006 found that most financial advisors typically only read a three-to-five year history of a fund, because it’s what is quickly accessible over a computer screen. So when they’re picking funds for their clients and they’re only looking at the past 3 to 5 years of a fund, this means they’re always searching for the hot mutual funds or the fund of the day, not necessarily what may be best for their client.
It’s disturbing. Looking at the 3-5 year return on a mutual fund is not really research. That may be a first filter, but it doesn’t justify the fees that are charged.
Advisors do this because they need time to find new clients. They don’t have time to spend 3 or 4 hours a day doing their own research, finding out what’s best for their clients, because they have to bring in more clients. Clients assume they’re paying for one thing, but are really getting something very different. In fact, what the client is paying for is an abdication of responsibility.
If a financial advisor doesn’t pay most of their attention to marketing, they don’t survive. So they look to shortcuts to save time. The financial advisor saves time, and you get a sub-quality investment plan.
Let me give you two examples how financial advisors are taking shortcuts which hurt your money.
One: There are independent companies that rate mutual funds and stocks using a star system. One such company rates them as one star is low and five stars is high. Often the only research a lot of financial advisors do is look for the 5-star investments. That pushes the responsibility onto the rating company.
What that means is that financial advisors, the ones you pay to save your future and manage your money, do their research by looking to see which mutual funds have five stars. That’s not research. In some ways, that’s comparable to using whatever fund has the highest commission or fee. To short-circuit the research means you’re able to spend more time getting clients. But it’s not the way to provide stellar results to the clients.
Two: There is another “research” tool, again from an independent rating company, this thing called the style box. What style are you; are you a mid-growth person, are you a small-value person? Looking at the style box to decide where to place a person’s money is not a strategy; it’s a convenience to tell what type of mutual fund you own. So now you can say, “I own a mid-cap value fund. Now I know what I own.” But should you own that? That is another story altogether. A style box is not necessarily helping the client’s money; it’s just making it easier to package products.
“Oh, you don’t have any diversification with international value funds? Well, we must make sure you have some of that.”
Here’s the underlying problem: Many financial advisors don’t even know how to grow money. That’s right. Financial advisors as a group don’t know how to grow money. It’s not really the business they’re in, these financial advisors. They count on their own companies to tell them what to sell or “invest in” for their clients. They count on the mutual fund industry to tell them what to invest in. “Did that fund have four stars or five stars?” Have you ever heard any of the great investors talk about stars or style boxes?
Financial advisors and mutual fund companies are in the same business. And their main business isn’t really growing your money. Their main business is involving you by getting your money to a fund. That’s what many financial advisors are paid to do, that’s what they spend the bulk of their time doing, that’s how they’re recognized, and that’s their every incentive. And that’s why it’s a problem, that they’re not paid based on growing your money, only on acquiring it.