My Fee Is Better Than Your Fee

Advisors, brokers, planners, bloggers, vloggers, Fin Twit experts, and other pontificators are praising the benefits of their own fee models while bashing all others. Strong opinions about whose fee schedule is best is a common thread. At the end of the day, however, a fee is a fee regardless of how it’s charged.

Firms may combine fee platforms or institute pricing tiers with minimum fees. For example, advisors may bill you hourly for their financial planning services while charging you an asset management fee.

One of my clients has been hounded by a stockbroker who has been trying to sell her an annuity. He told her the purchase would not cost her anything. After some research, I found out that he was going to receive a 5% commission.

Several years ago, an insurance agent approached me about buying a whole life insurance policy with an annual premium of $100,000. I was also told I wouldn’t incur any out of pocket expenses or fees. He was going to make $55,000 if I had purchased the policy.

If a broker tells you it won’t cost anything, you’re probably going to get fleeced.

Fees are confusing, especially if they’re called something else. It’s all semantics. Here’s a guide to help you navigate the murky waters of fees. This will help you identify the various types you might incur when you’re meeting with a financial professional or reviewing your account statements.

Commissions. If you buy or sell a stock, a commission will be added to or deducted from your trade. Bonds will also trade with a commission ranging from $1 to $30 per bond. If you purchase 100 bonds ($100,000) and you’re charged $10 per bond, your fee will be $1,000. This is referred to as a markup or markdown. Exchange traded funds and options will also trade with a commission. The more your broker trades, the more commissions they’ll earn.

Front End Load. Mutual funds with a front-end load will have commission rates ranging from 1% to 5% or more and it will be deducted from your purchase. If you invest $100,000 into a fund with a 4% front-end load, your fee will be $4,000, so $96,000 will be invested. The most common type of front-end loaded mutual fund is referred to as an “A” share.

Back End Load or Deferred Sales Charge. Funds and annuities with a deferred sales charge will charge a fee if you liquidate early. A declining sales charge is applied based on the number of years you own your holding. A fund may have deferred sales charge that declines over five years where 5% is deducted the first year, 4% the second year, 3% the third year and so on. If you invest $100,000 into a fund with a deferred sales charge and you sell it in year three, the fund company will deduct 3%, or $3,000 from your proceeds. The most common share class with back end loads are “B” and “C” shares.

Wrap. A wrap account will charge a percentage based on your investment but not charge a commission for your trades because the commissions are wrapped into the fee. Wrap accounts are popular with brokerage firms. They’ll offer you an investment account that owns 50 to 70 stocks or more. Depending on the size of your investment, you may own 2 to 3 shares of a company and If you were paying commissions, the fees could climb quickly. I worked for a large brokerage firm several years ago and our wrap-fee program charged clients 3% per year – an extremely high fee.

AUM. The asset under management fee model is popular with Registered Investment Advisors. An advisor may charge you a fee of 1% on the assets they manage on your behalf. The fee drops with the more assets you have under management.

Retainer. A retainer fee model will give you access to an advisor or planner for a specific project or timeframe, but it may not include managing your assets. It’s similar to an a la carte menu at a restaurant.

Flat Fee.  Your fee is flat, or fixed, regardless of your asset level. This model favors large accounts and punishes smaller ones. Advisors will charge a flat fee for financial planning and investment management services. This fee differs from the retainer model because the relationship is intended to be long-term.

Hourly. This model works well if you want a limited scope offering or a one-time analysis like a second opinion. It also appeals to investors who want to pick their own investments but want guidance with their asset allocation or financial plan. Advisors may charge $250 to $500 per hour to create a financial plan, review your investments, or give you guidance on a special project.

Subscription. This is a relatively new model primarily aimed at millennials or high-income earners with little assets. A fee is charged based on your income or net worth and it’s billed monthly, like a car payment. Services may include budgeting, cash flow planning, debt reduction, 401(k) guidance, and investment selection.

Hedge Fund. Hedge funds typically have a 2 and 20 model. They’ll charge you 2% on your assets and receive 20% of your trading profits. For example, if you invest $1,000,000 and it grows to $2,000,000, your hedge fund will earn 2% on $2,000,000 and receive $40,000 in fees. They’ll also earn $200,000 on your trading profits.

Regardless of where or how you purchase a mutual fund, exchange traded fund or annuity, they’ll have ongoing fees and expenses. Mutual funds and ETF’s have operating expenses (OER) and the fees vary wildly. Mutual funds may also have a 12b-1 fee, charging you another .25% on top of the OER. An annuity has fees for mortality, riders, administration, and investments – to name a few. Annuity fees can climb to 3% or more. Individual stocks, bonds and options do not have ongoing fees or expenses after they’re purchased.

Fees come in all types of flavors, so pick one that works well for you and your family. If you’re concerned about fees, then open an account at T.D. Ameritrade, Fidelity, Vanguard, E*Trade, or Schwab and only buy individual stocks, bonds or low-cost index funds. The commissions and fees will be low so long as you don’t day trade your account.

Fees are important, of course, but it’s more important to work with an advisor you trust. One who puts your interest firsts and acts in a fiduciary capacity is recommended.

What about our fees? We charge .5% ($5 per $1,000) for assets under management which includes a financial plan. Our stand-alone financial planning fee is $800.  Good conversation, fellowship and bad jokes are free.

In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility. ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

June 25, 2019

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.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ than 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.

 

 

 

 

 

What Are You Doing This Summer?

Summer has arrived and its vacation time! Travelers will be crisscrossing the globe in search of the perfect family vacation. Individuals will spend between 10 to 20 hours researching their vacation.[1] Proper planning will make your vacation more enjoyable.

Deciding where to go is only half the battle. Once you pick a location, then everything else will fall into place. How will you get there? What will you do? Etc. For example, if you’re going to Hawaii this rules out driving. A trip to Death Valley means you won’t be scuba diving.

Early planning can enhance your vacation experience. It will give you more options and potentially better rates. Last minute planning is frustrating. If you wait until the last minute to plan your trip your choices may be limited and more expensive.

Vacations aren’t cheap. The average cost is $1,145 per person, so a family of four can expect to spend $4,580.[2] About a quarter of the population will finance their trip with credit cards, personal loans, or a short-term payday loan.[3] Financing your vacation can add an extra 20% to 25% to your cost.

I love planning – all types. A few years ago, my family and I spent three weeks trekking around Europe by planes, trains and automobiles. It took me a year of planning to work on the logistics. Colored spreadsheets helped me with our travel plans, side trips, dining options, entertainment, and budget. It was one of our best family trips.

National Plan for Vacation day is January 30. According to travel research, they recommend a planning window of two to three months. The same study mentions that Americans leave 662 million unused vacation days on the table each year resulting in a “$236 billion missed opportunity for the U.S. economy.”[4]

Missed vacation days and poor travel planning won’t be detrimental to your family’s future but failing to plan for your financial future will be.

Unfortunately, people spend more time planning their vacation than they do their financial future. If you spent 10 to 20 hours per year on your financial plan, it may have life changing results. In fact, Individuals who complete a financial plan have three times the assets of those individuals who do little or no planning.[5]

Financial planning is not as fun as planning for a family vacation, but it’s necessary, especially if you want to maintain your lifestyle in retirement. Financial planning will give you options. It will give you flexibility. Your plan will confirm your current lifestyle or give you suggestions for changes.

Spending one to two hours per month reviewing your financial status can pay lifetime dividends. Your plan will direct your steps, like a trail map. It will give you a financial destination. Once you determine where you need to go financially, everything will fall into place.  Deciding on how much money you’ll need in retirement is paramount. Here are a few planning tips to get you started.

  1. Take an inventory. What is your current financial situation? Where are your assets? How are they performing? What fees are you paying? In addition, track your expenses. Get a handle on how and where your money is being spent.
  2. Set goals. What do you want to do when you retire? Travel? Setting financial goals is just as important, if not more so, than goals like losing weight or getting in shape. According to the Peak Performance Center, “Your goals give you a clear focus on what you believe to be important in life.” If a goal is important to you, you’ll figure out a way to make it happen.
  3. After taking an inventory and setting goals, it’s time to prioritize your list. Your list might be long, so spend some time culling it. Reduce your list to three to five items you can pursue because too many goals may lead to inertia.
  4. After you’ve figured out what you have and what you want to do, put it to work. Activate your plan. Once your plan is up and running, then you can spend a few hours a month reviewing and tweaking it as needed.
  5. Hire a planner. If you’re not comfortable creating and implementing your plan, hire a Certified Financial Planner®. A CFP professional will help you quantify and prioritize your goals. In addition to developing your plan, they’ll act as your accountability partner. Hire a planner with the CFP® designation who works for an independent Registered Investment Advisory firm, is fee-only, and acts in a fiduciary (best-interest) capacity. You can search for an advisor in your area on these websites: feeonlynetwork.com, www.napfa.org, or www.cfp.net.

Your financial plan can give you a lifetime of vacations if you plan accordingly. It will free you to enjoy your trips. Don’t wait. Start planning today.

Enjoy your summer and safe travels!

No matter what happens, travel gives you a story to tell. ~ Jewish Proverb

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.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ than 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.

 

[1] https://www.vacationkids.com/vacations-with-kids/how-much-time-does-it-take-to-research-and-plan-a-family-vacation, Sally Black, June 20, 2017

[2] https://www.creditdonkey.com/average-cost-vacation.html, Kim P, October 8, 2018

[3] https://www.finder.com/vacation-loan-debt, Website accessed June 19, 2019

[4] https://www.travelagentcentral.com/running-your-business/stats-less-than-half-americans-take-time-to-plan-vacation-days, Newsdesk, January 29, 2018. Website accessed June 19, 2019.

[5] http://www.nber.org/papers/w17078

Spend It Like Beckham

A client called recently to let me know he was going to make a major purchase. He wanted to know if his purchase was going to affect his investments. After a few clicks through his financial plan, we determined he could make the purchase and it would not have an impact on his long-term goals. He made the purchase.

Over the years I’ve had several conversations with clients about purchasing big ticket items from cars to boats to planes.  I worked with a gentleman that purchased a sizable apartment in Paris. He had the financial resources to make it happen and the total cost was a fraction of his net worth. Another individual was building a home on an island in the Pacific Northwest. He was going to turn it into a B&B with Ferrari’s and an airplane (he was a former pilot for a major airline.) After completing his financial plan, I told him he couldn’t afford all his purchases. He had to choose between the home, the cars or the plane.

Lately there has been a lot of discussions, blogs and articles about giving up coffee so you can afford a comfortable retirement. It’s unlikely a cup of coffee will derail your retirement, but I get the spirit of the argument. Spending money on coffee or a Cartier watch makes sense if you have the money.

Money is a use asset. It’s designed to buy goods and services. It doesn’t make sense to die with millions of dollars in your bank account. Of course, blindly spending on things can destroy your financial future. So how do you know how much money you can spend? Here are a few thoughts.

Do the math. The stock market is performing well this year, rising 11.5%. A balanced portfolio of 50% stocks and 50% bonds is up 9.4%. If you started the year with a million-dollar portfolio in a balanced account, you’d be up $94,000.  Withdrawing $50,000, $60,000 or $70,000 from your account will not hurt you financially.

More math. If your account is averaging a 5% return every year and your withdrawing 4% from your account, you shouldn’t run out of money. For example, you start with a million-dollar portfolio and withdraw $40,000 for ten years. After ten years you received $400,000 and your account balance is worth $1.125 million. Here’s a real-world example: You invested $1,000,000 in Vanguard’s Balanced Index Fund (VBINX) 25 years ago and withdrew 4% of the account balance each year. After paying taxes and fees, your account balance is worth $2.5 million today, and you received $1.8 million in distributions.[1]

Establish a spending plan. A spending plan, or budget, will help you with your purchasing decisions. Knowing where your money is going is half the battle. Recording your spending habits is a liberating experience.  Setting up a slush fund for impulse items will allow you to make stress free purchases. Your budget will also help you with buying big ticket items. The best place to start for your spending plan is to review your bank and credit card statements for the past 6 months.

Create a financial plan. A financial plan is a difference maker. In addition to reviewing your spending habits, it will incorporate your assets, liabilities, hopes, dreams and fears. Most of my clients have completed a financial plan so when they call to ask if they can make a major purchase, I’m able to answer their question in minutes. Also, when the market is falling like it did in December, I was able to tell clients their financial future was not in peril. A financial plan is paramount if you want to succeed financially.

If you have the money and the resources to buy something, go for it! Spending your money is acceptable, especially if you’ve run the numbers and it falls in line with your budget.

An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. ~ Benjamin Franklin

June 13, 2019

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.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ than 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.  This article has nothing to do with David Beckham. I’ve never met him, and I have no idea how he spends his money.

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Morningstar Office Hypothetical – 5/31/1994 – 5/31/2019.

Fake News!

Fake News is everywhere, I think. Who knows?

Fake news is on the rise, undermining credible news stories and causing angst. It attacks people, places and things by reporting stories that aren’t true. People shoot first and ask questions later by reacting to false headlines. Online posts, media outlets, and Heads of State rant against the proliferation of fake news stories. If someone doesn’t like a post or news story, they shout: Fake News! With all the data circulating the internet it’s imperative that you spend time separating the wheat from the chaff.

Fake news is alive and well in the investing world. Here are a few examples:

  • I don’t need to save money to accumulate wealth. False. One of the largest components to your wealth creation is how much money you save and invest monthly. How much should you save? A suggested amount is 10% to 15% of your income. If you’re waiting for a lottery ticket, corporate buyout, IPO, or inheritance from a rich uncle, you may be waiting for a long time – possibly forever. Saving $1,000 per month for 30 years will grow to $1.2 million if you can earn 7% on your investment.
  • I can borrow my way to wealth. Debt is an anchor and it will hinder your opportunities to create wealth. The more debt payments you’re making, the less money you can invest. Debt is also a fixed cost and will last the life of your loan. For example, if you borrow $300,000 for 30-years at 4.5%, it will cost you $247,000 in interest.
  • I’m young, I don’t need life insurance. If you’re married with young kids, have a mortgage, a few car loans, and a student loan or two, you need life insurance. How much? At a minimum you’ll need enough to pay off all your debts. If you include the cost for college and survivor income for your spouse, it will add to the amount of life insurance you’ll need. A stay-at-home spouse needs life insurance as well.
  • I’m young so I don’t need to save money until I’m older. Dave Ramsey tells a story about Jack and Blake. Jack is 21 years old and saved $2,400 per year for nine years and then stopped investing. He invested a total of $21,600 and it grew to $2.54 million. Blake, on the other hand, started investing at age 30. He invested $2,400 for 38 years. His total investment of $91,200 grew to $1.48 million. Jack’s nest egg is more than a million dollars greater than Blake’s all because he started when he was young.[1]
  • I’m old, I don’t need to invest for growth. You may live to age 100, or beyond. A person who retires at 65 might spend 35 years in retirement. If you retire your money to a bank or money market fund when you stop working, it will lose value after you factor in inflation and taxes. At a 3% inflation rate, your dollar will lose 35% of it’s value after 35 years – a loss of 1% per year. Contrast this to an investment in Vanguard’s S&P 500 Index Fund on May 29, 1984. A $10,000 investment is now worth $398,000!
  • I can trade my way to prosperity. Day traders, market timers and speculators generate high commissions, short-term tax liabilities, but not wealth. Asset allocation accounts for 93.6% of your investment return. The remaining 6.4% is attributed to market timing and investment selection.[2]
  • I can keep up with the Joneses. Do your friends drive Ferraris and drink Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon, but you drive a Prius and drink La Croix? If so, hanging out with your friends could be damaging to your wealth. Trying to keep up with your neighbors financially is a fool’s errand. Focus on your finances, not theirs. Who cares if your neighbor has a bigger boat?
  • I don’t need a financial plan. Have you tried taking a road trip without a GPS? Have you ever been lost on a mountain trail without a map? If you’ve ever planned a family vacation, you know the benefit of a solid plan. A financial plan will help you quantify and prioritize your goals. It will be your guide and travel companion.

Facts matter, especially when it comes to investing. Investment truth for success: Invest early, invest often, think long-term, keep you your fees low and create a financial plan.

The problem with quotes on the Internet is that it is hard to verify their authenticity.” ~  Abraham Lincoln (source: the Internet)

May 30, 2019

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.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ than 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.

[1] Financial Peace University

[2] Determinants of Portfolio Performance, Financial Analyst Journal, July/August 1986, Vol 42, No. 4, 6 pages; Gary P. Brinson, L. Randolph Hood, Gilbert L. Beebower.

What Is Your Fee Schedule?

Good morning and welcome to the first annual financial planning and investment management fee summit. My name is Nate Narrator and today we’ll talk to a panel of financial advisors, planners and brokers to discuss their fee schedules and how they charge clients.

Our distinguished panel includes the following individuals: Andy AUM, Rebecca Retainer, Hank Hourly, Cindy Commission, Frank Flat Fee, and Patty Planner.

Let’s meet the panel.

Andy AUM. Andy charges an asset under management fee of 1%.

Rebecca Retainer. Rebecca charges a monthly retainer fee that ranges from $125 to $500 depending on your annual income.

Hank Hourly. Hank charges an hourly consulting fee between $250 and $500 per hour depending on your annual income, assets, and complexity.

Cindy Commission. Cindy charges a commission on everything you buy and sell, regardless if it’s a stock, bond, mutual fund, or insurance product.

Frank Flat Fee. Frank charges a flat fee of $5,000 regardless of your annual income, assets, or complexity.

Patty Planner. Patty is a financial planner. Her fee ranges from $2,500 to $25,000 for a comprehensive financial plan. She also has a fee schedule for one-time modular plans like education, retirement, asset allocation, or cash flow planning. The modules cost $1,500 each.

Nate:

Andy tell me about your assets under management model.

Andy:

Thanks Nate! My model is based on your level of assets. The fee, as a percentage, will drop as your assets grow. The fee includes financial planning and investment management. It’s all rolled into one fee.

Nate:

Thank you. As the accounts grow in value, you’ll also make more money – correct?

Andy:

Yes, but so will my clients.

Nate:

What if the accounts drop in value like they did in 2018?

Andy:

The fee will go down if the accounts drop in value. My income will be lower as well.

Nate:

Hank, please tell me about your hourly model.

Hank:

Will do. I charge an hourly fee for my services. The initial client meeting will last an hour. The financial plan, preparation and presentation typically takes 8 to 10 hours. I should add, the initial consultation is free.

Nate:

So, about 8 to 10 hours to get a client up and running with their plan and your recommendations?

Hank:

Yes, that’s correct.

Nate:

At $500 an hour, your fee will run $4,000 to $5,000?

Hank:

Yes, that’s correct. It could also be more or less depending on the project. Some clients come to me for an investment review, others for a full-blown plan. It also includes driving time, research, etc.

Nate:

Thanks Hank. Rebecca, please tell me about your retainer model.

Rebecca:

Thanks Nate. I’m excited to be here today. My retainer model is a monthly subscription fee based on a client’s annual income. The fee works just like a car or mortgage payment. The client can add my fee to their monthly budget like they would for their other expenses.

Nate:

A car payment?

Rebecca:

Yes, our retainer fee ranges from $125 to $500 per month, with a one year minimum, depending on income.

Nate:

Interesting. So, if someone had income of $50,000, their retainer fee will be less than someone with $500,000 income, correct?

Rebecca:

That’s correct. It’s based on income.

Nate:

How long do your client’s pay a retainer fee? How long do they stay in this arrangement?

Rebecca:

Our clients stay with us for about three to five years before they move on.

Nate:

What if a client wants to invest based on your recommendations?

Rebecca:

We don’t manage money. We refer them to another fee-only advisor or recommend a robo-advisor platform.

Nate:

Cindy, your fee schedule is probably the oldest and most known to those in the audience. Tell us about your fee model.

Cindy:

Thank you, Nate. Commissions have been around forever and it’s a straight forward fee model. If a client places a trade, a commission is charged.

Nate:

So, the more you trade, the more you make?

Cindy:

Yes, that is true. However, our investment recommendations are made with the client’s best interest in mind.

Nate:

Of course. What’s the commission on a mutual fund trade?

Cindy:

The front-end commission on a mutual fund will cost the client 4% to 5% of the purchase price.

Nate:

If a client gives you an order to buy $100,000 of XYZ mutual fund, they’ll pay $4,000 to $5,000?

Cindy:

Yes, it’s a one-time charge.

Nate:

What about an annuity purchase?

Cindy:

The client won’t pay a front-end sales charge, but they’ll incur a fee if they liquidate during the deferred sales charge period.

Nate:

Give us an example please.

Cindy:

Sure, if a client purchases ABC annuity with $100,000, then 100% of their money goes to work from day one. If they sell their annuity during the first 10 years, they will incur a fee of 10% to 1%.

Nate:

10%? That seems outrageously high. Am I wrong?

Cindy:

It’s a high fee, but we encourage our clients to be long-term investors.

Nate:

What would your fee be if they purchased the ABC annuity?

Cindy:

It is 5%, or $5,000.

Nate:

Will the client incur any other fees?

Cindy:

Mutual fund expenses run about 1% per year; annuities will cost about 3% to 4% per year. The individual stocks and bonds don’t carry a monthly fee after their purchase.

Nate:

Thanks Cindy. Frank, tell us about your flat-fee model.

Frank:

Yes sir. Just as it sounds, it’s a flat fee regardless of income or asset level.

Nate:

A client with $50,000 in assets will pay just as much as someone with $5 million in assets?

Frank:

That is true. However, we have an account minimum of $500,000.

Nate:

If a client pays you a flat fee, what’s your incentive to manage their account? You get a flat, consistent fee regardless if their account goes up, down or sideways.

Frank:

Well, the fee is more than asset management fee. I also get paid for advice and financial planning.

Nate:

How do you manage the assets for your clients?

Frank:

We use mutual funds.

Nate:

Do the clients pay a fee to purchase the funds?

Frank:

They do. The fee is $25 per trade which goes to the custodian. I don’t receive the fee.

Nate:

Thanks Frank.

Nate:

Let’s her from Patty. Patty tell us about your fee structure.

Patty:

Thank you, Nate. I only charge client for advice and financial planning.

Nate:

Interesting. What about managing assets?

Patty:

I don’t manage any assets. I refer clients to another fee-only advisor or send them to a robo-advisor, like Rebecca does.

Nate:

Okay. If a client comes to you for financial planning and advice, what does it look like?

Patty:

The financial planning fee ranges from $2,500 to $25,000 depending on a client’s complexity.  Once the plan is done, the client is free to choose any investment platform they desire. I’ll give them suggestions, but it’s their choice. I don’t get paid for investment advice, nor do I receive a referral fee from any advisor.

Nate:

Okay, thank you all for your input. Let’s look at a client with $500,000 in assets with an annual income of $250,000 so we can compare the different models. Who wants to go first?

Andy:

I will. My fee would be $5,000 per year, or 1% of $500,000.

Rebecca:

My fee would be $6,000 per year, or $500 per month.

Hank:

For a client with this profile I’d charge $500 per hour. We’d meet for about 10 to 12 hours during the year, so the fee would range from $5,000 to $6,000.

Cindy:

Her assets would qualify her for a breakpoint for the mutual fund company I use, so the commission would be $20,000 – one time.

Frank:

My flat fee remains the same regardless of a client’s assets or income, so it would be $5,000.

Patty:

This planning fee for this client, based on her assets, would be $5,000.

Nate:

Hmmm… It looks like all your fees are similar, except for Cindy’s, but over a 3 to 4-year period all your fees will be about the same, correct?

Panel:

Yes.

Nate:

Also, regardless of the stock market’s performance, you’re all getting paid?

Panel:

Yes.

Nate:

Last question: Who’s model is best?

Panel:

(In unison): Mine.

Nate:

(laughing), Okay! Thank you all for your time today.

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” ~ Romeo and Juliet

April 3, 2019

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.

At PWM we charge .5% on the first $10,000,000 and then .35% above this amount. Our financial planning fee is $800.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ than those posted in this blog.

What Is Financial Planning?

Peggy called me one afternoon to ask me if she could afford to buy a new car. I told her she could buy two. I knew this because we had just completed a financial plan for her and her husband.  Buying a new car, let alone two, wouldn’t make a dent in their financial situation. Twenty-five plus years later her plan is still bearing fruit. It has allowed her to live a life free of financial worry and turmoil, which is my definition of financial planning.

The text book definition of financial planning is “the process of determining whether and how an individual can meet life goals through the proper management of financial resources.”[1]

The planning process comprises of six steps:

  • Establishing and defining the client relationship.
  • Gathering the client data and identifying client goals.
  • Analyzing and evaluating the client’s financial status.
  • Developing and presenting recommendations.
  • Implementing the recommendations.
  • Monitoring the recommendations.

The key section, to me, is gathering the data and identifying the client’s goals. These items are vital to the success of your plan. Wrangling up statements from Social Security, your bank, investment firm, employer, insurance agent, credit card company, and accountant should be easy, if you’re organized. Items listed on a statement are easy to quantify. It’s much harder to value personal property, collectibles or a business interest. Furthermore, trying to put a dollar figure on your life goals may be impossible. What is it worth to you to spend time hiking with your daughter in Yellowstone? Priceless?

After your information is captured, the financial planner will go to work analyzing your data using powerful software from Money Guide Pro, eMoney, or Right Capitol. If a planner has been creating plans for years, they will also rely on Excel, Word and their trusted HP-12c calculator.

Your plan will consist of several pages quantifying your financial goals, dreams and concerns. It will highlight your risk level, investment management fees, cash flow projections, insurance needs, estate options, investment suggestions, college cost data, and much more. At the heart of the analysis is the Monte Carlo simulation. Most financial planning software providers include this in their analysis. The plan will run hundreds, or thousands, of scenarios to give you a probability of success ranging from 0% to 99%. Of course, a higher number is preferred.

Are all financial professionals created equally? No, definitely not. It’s imperative to hire a Certified Financial Planner® practitioner. An individual who has obtained the CFP® designation has spent years studying to become certified. Once certified, the planner must adhere to strict guidelines which includes obtaining 30 hours of continuing education every two years. Beware of brokers or insurance agents who offer financial planning, because, often, their end game is to sell you a product.  And, to be clear, financial planning is not a product.

I’ve done thousands of financial plans over the years and there is no good plan and there is no bad plan, there’s only your plan. Your plan is customized to you and your current situation. It’s a moment in time, like a photograph. But, once completed, it gives you a road map, a guide to help you obtain your financial goals. It will affirm your financial situation allowing you to maintain the status quo or make some serious financial decisions.

Does financial planning work? According to one study, individuals who completed the financial planning process had three times the assets of those individuals who did little or no planning.[2]

Several years ago, a client wanted to retire early. He approached me with a scenario that he thought might work for him and his family. After I completed his plan, I told him he could retire early. He was elated, but he wasn’t so sure – yet. He sent me another scenario and the plan confirmed his adjustments; he could still retire early. Still not sold, he sent me another request. It produced the same result. In short, we ran ten different scenarios and they all confirmed he could retire early. After the tenth and final plan he gave his notice to his employer and retired. He’s still retired.

Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? ~ Luke 14:28

April 2, 2019

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.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ than those posted in this blog.

 

 

[1] https://www.cfp.net/for-cfp-professionals/professional-standards-enforcement/current-standards-of-professional-conduct/compliance-resources/frequently-asked-questions/financial-planning

[2] http://www.nber.org/papers/w17078

Are You Too Frugal?

The person who dies with the most toys – loses!

John Bogle, the founder of Vanguard, recently passed away with a net worth of $80 million. By Wall Street standards $80 million is pocket change, especially for someone who founded one of the largest investment and asset management firms in the world.  Vanguard has about $5.3 Trillion in assets under management.[1]  By comparison, Stephen A. Schwarzman, the CEO of The Blackstone Group, has a net worth of $12.4 billion. Blackstone’s assets under management are $427 billion, or 8.5% of Vanguard’s total.

Mr. Bogle is known for being frugal, probably to a fault. He once said, “I don’t like going into stores, I don’t like the whole process of buying things.” He didn’t like spending money on himself, but he did donate to charities and schools including The John C. Bogle Center for Financial Literacy, Blair Academy and Princeton.

Mr. Bogle could have sprinkled his assets to individuals or groups he supported, including himself, without risk of running out of money.

It’s good to be frugal and watch your budget, but is it possible to be too frugal? I think it is. For example, if you drop your daily Starbucks habit, you could save $152,000 over the next 30 years, but would you be happy? I’ve seen individuals who look to save a dollar or two on small ticket items but hold 100% of their assets in cash, CDs or T-Bills. Rather than trying to save a few nickels by kicking your coffee habit, move your assets to stocks so you have an opportunity to make more money. Since 1945 stocks have averaged 11.3% per year while T-Bills have returned 3.9%, a difference of 7.4% per year! With the money you make from stocks you can now afford multiple lattes!

Mr. Bogle followed an asset allocation of 60% stocks, 40% bonds in his retirement accounts. His taxable allocation was more aggressive with 80% stocks, 20% bonds.[2]

Here are a few suggestions for you to spend more money and be less frugal.

Spend. The goal is not to die with the most assets but to use your net worth to live and enjoy life. Cash is a use asset, so use it accordingly. If you’re concerned about spending money on things, spend it on experiences. A family trip to a national park is not only a great experience, it’s also economical.

Give. If your assets are burning a hole in your pocket, give them away. Donate your resources to charities or organizations you support. Your gift will bless the organization and you’ll benefit from a tax write off.

Retire. Retiring early will give you an opportunity to travel to distant lands, spend more time with your loved ones, or volunteer your time. If you retire early, you’ll spend your money sooner rather than later. In addition, you can use your resources while you’re young and mobile. A former client saved his money to travel with his wife, but she died one month after his retirement. Don’t wait to enjoy your resources because you don’t know when you’ll leave God’s green earth.

What if you’re not blessed with a net worth of $80 million? How do you know how much money you can spend before you run out of money? A financial plan will help you create a spending plan based on your current assets. It will also recommend an appropriate asset allocation and risk tolerance level in hopes of maximizing your return.

So, go ahead, buy the latte and enjoy your life!

A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore. –Yogi Berra

February 14, 2019

Bill Parrott 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.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ than those posted in this blog. Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

 

 

[1] http://fortune.com/2019/01/16/john-bogle-vanguard-founder-created-index-funds-dies-89/, by Kevin Kelleher, 1/17/2019

[2] https://www.investopedia.com/articles/financial-advisors/012716/where-does-john-c-bogle-keep-his-money.asp, Richard Best, 4/26/2018

Happy Anniversary to Me!

This year marks my 30th year in the investment business and what a long strange trip it’s been.

My last semester at the University of San Diego I took an investment course with a young, energetic, and entertaining investment professor. His knowledge about investing was second to none and he taught our class how to apply our learning to the real world of investing. His course changed my career trajectory.

I was living the good life as a college student. I lived in Mission Beach with the beach on one side and the bay on the other. My roommate at the time was in the same investment class.

After graduation I was working for Bank of America in downtown San Diego processing loans for residents of Orange County. My roommate took a job as a stockbroker with a penny stock firm. The stock market closed at 1:00 and on most days he’d call my office to let me know he was going to the beach.  He was going to the beach at 1:30 and I wasn’t getting home until 7:30. I asked, “Jim, did you make any money today?” His response, “Bill, I’m always making money!”

The thought of making money and going to the beach at 1:30 was too much to pass up so I called a former roommate whose dad was managing a small office for Spelman & Company in Rancho Bernardo. His dad told me if I passed the series 7, he’d hire me as a stockbroker. I borrowed some old series 7 training manuals and studied for a couple of months. I passed the exam with a score of 70.3! I was later told that the lower your score on the series 7, the better your odds of succeeding in the business.

Once I received my results, I resigned from Bank of America. My first official day on the job was May 8, 1989. My friend’s dad was an incredible mentor and it was an honor to work at his side. To get clients I spent most of my day cold calling with municipal bonds.

A few months later I moved back to Los Angeles to start working with Dean Witter in Pasadena. I went through their training program in April 1990. Like my job in San Diego I spent most of my day cold calling for new business. In addition to municipal bonds I added preferred stocks to the mix, and I’d dial the phone morning, noon and night – about 300 to 400 times a day, including Saturdays. My source of leads was the Criss Cross Directory. The early 90s was a great time to cold call because there was no caller ID, cell phones, or internet to interfere with my mission. To increase my odds of success I’d find a local bond paying 7% or more – tax free! My standard script went something like this: “Hello Mrs. Jones, My name is Bill Parrott and I’m calling from Dean Witter in Pasadena. The reason for my call today is that the City of Arcadia has just issued a new tax-free bond paying 7%. Would you like to hear more about it?” I repeated this process throughout the day. For a moment in time, I was the number one trainee in my class.

At Dean Witter I was blessed to work with another incredible mentor, a gentleman who’s been on the Barron’s 100 list of top advisors each year it’s been published. After hours we were often the only two left in the office and we’d go to lunch on several occasions.  I’d pick his brain about the business at every opportunity.

My mentors taught me more than investments, however. They taught me how to treat clients with respect and to put their interests above mine. I learned much by watching and listening to how they conducted themselves daily. Their wisdom, teachings and examples are still with me today.

On May 8, 1989 the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 2,376. It has since risen 933% to 24,553, averaging 8.17% per year – before dividends for the past 30 years! Despite the long-term success of stocks, each year, including this one, forecasters have called for the market to drop because it’s overvalued. In fact, the first year I started in the business one large producer told me to sell stocks and buy silver. I didn’t take his advice, thankfully.

During my career I worked in California, Connecticut and Texas. After Morgan Stanley and Dean Witter merged, I joined the management pool; managing offices in New Haven, CT and Austin, TX.  A few years after leaving Morgan Stanley I joined a large discount brokerage firm to work with executives, attorneys, pilots and doctors across the country. I spent a good deal of time in hotels and airports.

When I turned 50, I started my own company. My daughter was leaving for college and I thought if I don’t start my company now, I never will. It was a leap of faith. We live by faith, not by sight ~ 2 Corinthians 5:7.    

My firm is doing well and growing. I’ve had the benefit of working as an independent advisor, a wire-house broker, and an order taker. The independent channel is, by far, the best of them all. The relationships I have with clients are much deeper and more authentic than the other channels.

It’s been a great run and I’ve been blessed beyond measure.  Here are a few tips I’ve learned over the past three decades.

  1. Family and friends come first. I’ve been blessed with an amazing wife, a beautiful daughter, loving parents, and incredible sisters.
  2. Time in the market trumps timing the market. The long-term trend in the market will give you an opportunity to create wealth for you and those you love. Don’t try to trade the market daily because you’ll lose more often than you’ll win.
  3. Turn out the noise. As I mentioned, every year, for the past 30 years, “experts” have been telling me the stock market is overvalued. If I listened to any of these individuals, I’d have missed the historic rise in stocks.
  4. Diversify your portfolio. Diversification is the only free lunch on Wall Street. Stocks, bonds and cash will help you grow and protect your assets over time. All three will play a part in your wealth journey at some point.
  5. Invest internationally. About half of the global stock market capitalization is found in companies outside of our borders.
  6. Have a plan. Financial planning will help you create wealth. Your plan will quantify and prioritize your financial goals.
  7. Rebalance your accounts. At the beginning of each calendar year, review your asset allocation. If it’s out of whack with your risk level, adjust your portfolio.
  8. Eliminate your debt. Debt is a four-letter word and it’s a killer. Too much debt will keep you from reaching your financial dreams.
  9. Giving money away to help others has multiple benefits. It will make you happier, reduce your taxes, and assist those who receive your gift. It’s a win-win-win.
  10. We live on a beautiful planet with amazing things to see and do. Get outside and enjoy your life.

Thirty years have gone by in a blink of an eye. Between classes and jobs, my friends and I would sit on the beach and ponder our future. I’m happy to report we’ve all done well, and, more importantly we’re still friends. Life is good.

May He give you the desires of your heart and make all your plans succeed. ~ Psalm 20:4

January 22, 2019

Bill Parrott 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.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ than those posted in this blog.

 

 

 

Ditch Your Estate Plan?

Estate planning is vital for people with significant wealth. A properly structured plan can aid in the successful distribution of your assets to those you love. Transferring assets to your beneficiaries, while avoiding estate taxes, is paramount for most individuals.

Estate planning is primarily a one-time event. You meet with your attorney, create a will or trust, and then you put it in your safe. The documents probably contain standard language to transfer money to your children, relatives, or charities once you’re deceased.

Of course, you’ll have no control over how your estate plan will turn out because you’ll be dead. The successful distribution of your estate will rely on others, hopefully people you trust, to honor your wishes. Yes, your instructions are written and recorded, but your executor still must execute. The beneficiary can pursue legal action if they’re aware of a breach of fiduciary duty by the trustee.

An addition to your estate plan is a wealth transfer plan. A wealth transfer plan is a process allowing you to give money away while you’re living. You will be able to control the assets, distribution, and timing of your gifts.

For example, if you give money to your children and they’re excellent stewards of your gift, then you can entrust them with more money. If they aren’t, you can limit how much money they’ll receive in the future. It’s a test run.

The same is true for gifts to churches, charities, and organizations. You’ll be able to witness how they handle your donation. If they do it well, you can be confident they’ll treat your future gifts in the same manner. If they’re poor stewards, you can remove them from your estate plan.

A wealth transfer plan will allow you to actively manage your distributions, a luxury you won’t have with your estate plan once you’re gone.

His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. ~ Matthew 25:21

A few years ago, I was having a conversation with a client about her estate plan. We discussed giving her money away sooner rather than later. She wanted to support her family financially while experiencing the joy of giving. She decided to help the younger generation with their education. As a result, her gifts will bear fruit for decades. Her giving has not hindered her financial plan, if anything, it has been enhanced.

A wealth transfer plan will also help your beneficiaries because they’ll be part of the process. No one likes surprises, even if it’s millions of dollars. A large, unexpected gift may do more harm than good, especially if your kids don’t have the experience to manage substantial wealth. Including children in the conversation about how you plan to distribute your estate will set expectations for all. Your family will remain united and, hopefully, sibling rivalries will be avoided.

Estate planning involves trust, love and respect. If you put significant restrictions on your children before they can receive their money, you probably don’t trust them much. It’s a lack of trust if you make your children adhere to several rules or jump through hoops to be compliant with your wishes.  What is the message you’re sending? I love you, but… If you don’t trust your kids with how they’ll spend the money, don’t give them any. Setting up a trust with trap doors won’t change their behavior or your faith in their ability to meet your demands. Of course, if your kids are minors or have special needs, then a trust is recommended.

Giving through a wealth transfer program will educate your kids on how best to handle money. Your experience and wisdom can help them become better stewards of resources. Working together as a family will pay dividends for years to come.

Wisdom, like an inheritance, is a good thing and benefits those who see the sun. Wisdom is a shelter as money is a shelter, but the advantage of knowledge is this: Wisdom preserves those who have it. ~ Ecclesiastes 7:11-12

Randy Alcorn said, “You can’t take it with you, but you can send it ahead.” Wise words. There are no banks in Heaven. What’s the point of dying with millions, or billions, of dollars? Why not distribute your estate while you can?

Here are a few questions to ask if you want to create a wealth transfer program.

Why are you saving money? What’s the goal for your resources? A financial plan can answer these questions. Your plan can create multiple giving scenarios and strategies. The plan will quantify and clarify your goals.

Who will receive your money? When will they receive it? How will they receive it? The timing and titling of your assets is important.

Do you own a business? Who will run it when your gone? Do your kids want to be business owners? Do they have the capacity to operate a company? If you have multiple children, who will call the shots?

What if your wrong? If your giving plan isn’t working, you can make changes while you’re alive and in control. After your gone, your estate plan is irrevocable.

So, should you ditch your estate plan? No. A thoughtful wealth transfer plan, coupled with your estate plan, will benefit many – especially you and your family. You’ll be able to witness the joy of giving and they’ll be able to create a solid foundation. Win-win.

Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised. ~ Job 21:1-2

December 13, 2018

Bill Parrott is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management firm 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 to help our clients pursue a life of purpose.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ than those posted in this blog.

What is Average?

At lunch a few weeks ago, a friend of mine said he didn’t want his son to be average. I was struck by his comment because all his kids do well in school and they’re exceptional athletes. I then spent some time pondering the word – average. What is average? According to Merriam-Webster it means a single value that summarizes or represents the general significance of a set of unequal values. It also states a level, typical of a group, class, or series.

Do you know Akani Simbine? He is an Olympic sprinter from South Africa who finished 5th in the men’s 100-meter dash at the 2016 Olympics. His time was 9.94 seconds – the average winning time of the eight runners in the race.  By Olympic standards, he’s an average sprinter. However, if he raced anybody else in the world, he’d win – by a lot. Is Mr. Simbine average?

The average score for the top 20 finishers at the 2018 Masters was 281. Tony Finau finished 10th with a score of 281. Is Mr. Finau an average golfer? If he was in your foursome at your local muni course, do you think he’d win? I do.

The average height of an NBA player is 6 foot 7. Russell Westbrook is only 6 foot 3. He has below average height, but if he showed up at your local YMCA to play basketball, he’d dominate the court. Would you be able to guard Mr. Westbrook one on one? Doubtful.

Average is relative. Metrics and benchmarks matter.

Some investors shun index funds because they’re designed to generate market returns, or average returns. Who wants average returns? If you were able to capture these returns, your account balance would grow substantially. Yet, most investors fail to do so and, as a result, produce below average returns.

According to a 2017 Dalbar study, investors underperformed the S&P 500 by a wide margin. The S&P 500 is an unmanaged index of stocks. At the time of their report the index returned 11.96%, the individual investor made 7.26%, a difference of 4.7%. The 20-year annualized return for the index was 7.68%, the individual made 4.79%.[1]

The dollar differential is staggering. A $100,000 investment for twenty years earning 7.68% will grow to $439,239. If the rate drops to 4.79%, the balance falls to $254,915, a difference of 42%.

Why do individual investors constantly underperform the market? Here are a few reasons.

Emotions. Investors fall prey to greed and fear. They buy high and sell low. When stocks rise, investors feel good and they buy more stocks. When stocks fall, investors panic and they sell their holdings. The best time to buy is when everybody else is selling.

No Plan. Investors without a financial plan are likely to react to negative news. They don’t have a game plan. Without a plan, it will be a challenge for investors to have much financial success. An archer needs a target.

Short-term thinking. Markets fluctuate, and no trend lasts forever. Focusing on recent, short-term market moves may cause investors to lose sight of their long-term goals. Marathon runners don’t panic at the five-mile mark.

Noise. TV shows, newspaper headlines, Facebook posts, and tweets will try to knock you off your target.  Distracted investors make mistakes. Focus on your goals and tune out the noise.

Lack of accountability. A trusted advisor can help you navigate troubled waters. A Certified Financial Planner™ can design a plan and portfolio fit for you and your family.

Buy and hold investors can capture average market returns if they have the courage to stay the course. Focusing on your goals and following your plan will pay substantial dividends. Average returns may deliver above average wealth.

I feel like a fugitive from the law of averages. ~ William H. Mauldin

December 10, 2018

Bill Parrott is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management firm 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 to help our clients pursue a life of purpose.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ than those posted in this blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] https://www.marketwatch.com/story/americans-are-still-terrible-at-investing-annual-study-once-again-shows-2017-10-19, Lance Roberts, 10/21/2017