Oh, the investment industry loves rich people. L-O-V-E-S them. Many fees in the investing world are applied as a percentage of the amount of money in a client’s account. The haul is much juicier when working on a seven-figure account than it is on one in the four-figure range. Don’t be intimidated though. People of modest and middling budgets can still benefit from talking to financial professionals.
Here are three examples:
Example 1: mapping out your financial future
If you want a financial plan to map out how you’ll reach your financial goals: a lot of what we’ll generically call investment advisors refer to themselves as financial planners. Whether or not you actually get a financial plan is an open-ended question with these people, which is why a fee-only financial planner is such a good option. Instead of flogging products, fee-only planners sell financial expertise. Retirement, your kids’
post-secondary education, debt reduction and estate planning are among the items that might be covered in a plan. The cost is a flat or hourly fee that depends on how detailed your plan is. The full monty might cost you $1,000 to $3,000; pare down your requirements and you will pay less.
Example 2: identifying investments that are right for you
If you want to buy some investments for a registered or non-registered account: an investment advisor at a bank, insurance company or independent firm will ideally offer advice on how to structure a portfolio to suit your needs, and he/she will provide recommendations on suitable investments for you to buy. Many advisors are paid through commissions and fees generated by the products they sell – ask about this when discussing the investments being recommended. Advisors, since their pay often depends on how much you invest, are the financial industry people most likely to discriminate against clients with small accounts. Ask this two-part question before deciding to work with an advisor: is my account large enough to catch your interest and, if so, what level of service can I expect?
Example 3: dealing with debt
You have debt problems: non-profit credit-counselling agencies can help you learn to budget your money better and, if you don’t think you can pay what you owe, they will help you create a repayment plan. There may be a charge for these services, and your credit history may be affected to a limited extent. However, these agencies can offer real help to people overwhelmed by debt.