A Billion Dollars A Year

How would you spend a billion dollars? Would you create a foundation? Would you run for President? Would you try to send a rocket to Mars? Would you purchase priceless art?

The top five hedge fund managers last year earned more than a billion dollars in salary, with an average pay of $1.48 billion. A group of fifteen hedge fund managers made more than $12 billion.[1] Hedge fund managers typically charge a 2% fee on your investment and take 20% of your profits as compensation. The S&P 500 rose 29% last year, without fees. If you invested $10,000,000 in a hedge fund and your account appreciated 29%, your manager’s compensation would have been approximately $780,000, or 7.8% of your original investment.

Last year was a phenomenal year for major asset classes, so your hedge fund manager should be compensated well for his (the top five hedge fund managers are all men) efforts. How did they perform? The five hedge fund managers, as a group, generated an average return of 24.6%, before fees.  The best of this elite group returned 41%, the worst returned 14%.[2]

On a gross basis, the top five underperformed the S&P 500 by 4.4%. Two of the five outperformed the index, and only one bettered it on a net basis. If the average return was 24.6% and their fee was 7.8%, then the net gain was 16.8%. Last year, several low-cost ETFs performed well: Real Estate returned 24.4%, Utilities 21.3%, Small Caps 21%, International Stocks 18.1%, Gold 17.9%, and Emerging Markets 16.7%.[3] An equal weighting of these ETF’s returned 19.9%.

Fees matter when it comes to investing because you can only spend net returns. How do you know what fees you’re paying? Here are a few suggestions.

  • Every publicly traded investment has a ticker symbol, and if you plug it into Yahoo! Finance, Morningstar, or any other financial site, you’ll be able to see the fees associated with your investment. Every Mutual Fund and Exchange Traded Fund has an operating expense ratio (OER). For example, the OER for Vanguard’s S&P 500 Index Fund (VOO) is .03% or $3 per $10,000 invested.
  • Registered Investment Advisors must file their Form ADV each year. The ADV outlines an advisor’s fee schedule, assets under management, and other vital information. If you work with an advisor, they’ll provide you with their form.
  • Broker sold insurance items, and other packaged products are delivered with a prospectus. The prospectus summarizes the fee schedule, including sales charges, surrender fees, 12b-1 fees, and additional fees.
  • Brokerage firms post their commission rates and schedule online.
  • Conduct a fee audit with your advisor. Your advisor should be able to review your investment holdings, account fees, and other charges to help you get a better handle on your costs.

Registered Investment Advisors must disclose their fees to you before you invest, brokers should do the same. If you’re not sure what fees you’re paying, ask. It’s your money. I’ve noticed firms that charge high fees say they’re adding value to their clients. If you’re working with one of these firms, ask them how they’re adding value. If they can’t explain it to you, maybe it’s time to hire a new advisor.

One of the best ways to add value to your bottom line is to work with a Certified Financial Planner™ who invests your money in a globally diversified portfolio of low-cost funds and offers financial planning.

Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. ~ Romans 13:7

February 17, 2020.

Bill Parrott, CFP®, CKA®, is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management located in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process so our clients can pursue a life of purpose. Our firm does not have an asset or fee minimum, and we work with anybody who needs financial help regardless of age, income, or asset level. PWM’s custodian is TD Ameritrade, and our annual fee starts at .5% of your assets and drops depending on the level of your assets.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ from those posted in this blog. PWM is not a tax advisor, nor do we give tax advice. Please consult your tax advisor for items that are specific to your situation. Options involve risk and aren’t suitable for every investor.

[1] https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/hedge-fund-managers-earned-more-than-billion-last-year-highest-2020-2-1028894639, by Ben Wick, February 11, 2020

[2] Ibid

[3] YCharts: VNQ, VPU, IJR, EFA, GLD, & VWO 2019.

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