Buyer Beware: Financial “Advisors” often = Pure salespeople

As I am reading up on mutual funds and investing currently, I can see why so many people let others do the work for them. I mean, there are people trained to do this, so why not, right? Wrong. Especially for people with net worths under a million dollars.

As noted in this CNN Money article and another MSN article, most brokers that service us non-millionaires such as Edward D. Jones or American Express Financial Advisors are simply salespeople who get their money from “revenue sharing”, aka commissions. You can even read about the job here or here. Note that your salary in both places is heavily dependent on commissions.

These kickbacks, er, “revenue sharing”, usually mean mutual funds with loads or various insurance products that sound really good but aren’t. I’ve recently sat down with these people, and they are slick – usually attractive and charismatic. But once you ask them pointedly about the fees and why they don’t recommend no-load mutual funds instead, or about actual returns on the portfolios they manage compared to the overall market, they get a bit nervous. It was a good learning experience though, it reinforces my interest in doing the research myself and buying no-load no-transaction-fee mutual funds using Vanguard, which is actually owned by its shareholders.


  1. You’re right, a lot of the advisers out there make a very nice living thank you off the back of recommending a few products and filling in a bit of paper work! But all too often it is only these guys who have access to some of the tastiest products in the market place. And fair play to some of them, they can offer good all round advice. But as with all things – if you DO want to use the services of an adviser, shop around, speak to a few and really grill them – make them work hard for any commission!

  2. Interesting, do you have any examples of these tasty products?

  3. I used my adviser to enter front-load mutual funds for “free.” One great fund is Keeley Small Cap Fund that has a great track record, but charges an outrageous 4.5% front-load fee!


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