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Here in Austin, TX and need some referrals
Old 10-26-2008, 05:31 PM   #1
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Here in Austin, TX and need some referrals

Hi All

My wife and I live here in Austin, TX and have spent the last few weeks heavily reading the boards and familiarizing ourselves with Bob Clyatt's book Work Less, Live More.

What an awesome community here on the Early Retirement boards!

I wanted to ask if anyone had any referrals for fee-only (or hourly) financial advisors/cfp's here in Austin (or regionally). We're currently with Merrill and are unhappy with the fees and service. Ultimately we'll make the jump to Vanguard but for now we feel we need a bit more handholding to get out of Merrill and to make a transition.

Thank you so much!
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Old 10-26-2008, 07:53 PM   #2
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Welcome happilymarried.
Have never used a fee-only advisor, but have heard of the Garrett Planning Network. You might want to check them out at Welcome to The Garrett Planning Network - Fee-Only Financial Planning & Advice for Everyday Life!
I am sure that these planners will offer some free "get acquainted" meeting time.

There is at least one other such organization (that I probably saw here at early-retirement.org) the name of which escapes me at the moment. I am sure someone will post it.
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Old 10-26-2008, 08:00 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by happilymarried View Post
Hi All

My wife and I live here in Austin, TX and have spent the last few weeks heavily reading the boards and familiarizing ourselves with Bob Clyatt's book Work Less, Live More.

What an awesome community here on the Early Retirement boards!

I wanted to ask if anyone had any referrals for fee-only (or hourly) financial advisors/cfp's here in Austin (or regionally). We're currently with Merrill and are unhappy with the fees and service. Ultimately we'll make the jump to Vanguard but for now we feel we need a bit more handholding to get out of Merrill and to make a transition.

Thank you so much!
Welcome to the board.

For a while I felt like you did concerning a financial advisor for reassurance and to make sure I didn't self destruct financially. I had one for a short time and made the effort to do a lot of reading. Less than two years later, I transferred it all back to my IRA and manage it myself. My only suggestion is before making the jump, maybe give yourself a month or two to read books by Solin, Lucia, the Bogleheads book and a few others besides Bob's (which is excellent).

You may find that you can do this yourself with about the same results as with a planner. Whatever you choose, this board can serve as a great place to bounce off your retirement ideas.
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Old 10-26-2008, 08:48 PM   #4
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Welcome to the board. Congrats on your decision to jump clear of the Merrill Lynch fees. I understand why you feel you need a fee-only advisor, but I'd echo Rich's advice: First school yourself up by reading a bit. It's the only way you'll have a basis for understanding the rationale for the recommendations given you by the advisor. It will also help you avoid costly mistakes in the (unlikely?) event that the advisor's interests or perspectives on investing are fundamentally at variance from your own. It will only take you a few weeks to read the books, a little longer in the Merrill Lynch gulag won't make a big difference.

Whatever you decide, give the folks her a chance to chime in as you move ahead.

Sorry, I don't know about FOAs in Austin.
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Old 10-27-2008, 12:59 PM   #5
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Here's my 2 cents. I agree with the previous posts. READ, READ, READ, and ask a lot of questions.

Don't rush. You have plenty of time. Talk to older, successful, investors.

Get a feel for your risk tolerance. Remember, when you're older, you have less time to "hold" and wait for the market to come back.

Also, ask yourself, HOW MANY OF THE EXPERTS PREDICTED THIS MARKET COLLAPSE?

If you do find a Financial Advisor, ask the questiion.

1. Did you predict the market collapse? If not, why not?

2. How much did your client's lose on average?

3. How is your own portfolio doing?

4. Why should I pay you the expert, for advice, if your clients lost money.

These are tough questions, but listen to the FA responses. And then sit back and think. Don't make any hasty decisions. Again don't rush.

The very fact you are asking this question on this Forum, scares me. I've seen to many friends get taken to the cleaners.

Any investment opportunity that sounds to good, BE CAREFUL. Watch out for annuities.

Keep asking question on this forum. There are some pretty knowledgeable folks here with common sense. (But not all). So be careful!

Good Luck.
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Old 10-27-2008, 01:15 PM   #6
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One more thought. Just reread OP thread.

You mentioned you needed "handholding". To switch from Merril to Vanguard.

You have to get "tough". THIS IS YOUR MONEY. TAKE CONTROL.

YOU WORKED HARD FOR YOUR NEST EGG. I'M NOT SAYING BE RUDE, BUT IF YOU WANT TO SWITCH DO SO.

If you were not happy with their business style, just tell them, nicely.
Or not at all. You have no obligation to tell then anything if it makes you uncomfortable.

In fact, I think you could call Vanguard, and have Vanguard move all of your funds from Merril to Vanguard. You don't even have to talk to Merril.

But you have to have a more "take charge attitude" or you will be at the mercy of all financial advisors.

I'd recommend bring a trusted, knowledgeable, assertive, friend to any meetings you have with financial instituion, including Vanguard.


Sorry for all of the advice
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Old 10-27-2008, 01:31 PM   #7
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If you do find a Financial Advisor, ask the questiion.

1. Did you predict the market collapse? If not, why not?

2. How much did your client's lose on average?

3. How is your own portfolio doing?

4. Why should I pay you the expert, for advice, if your clients lost money.
To hapilymarried,
When you have digested enough of the reading material (Bob Clyat's book, The Bogleheads Book, and Wm. Bernstein's "Four pilars of Investing" are highly recomended) you'll probably come to realize that trying to time the market, to choose next year's winning stocks or asset class, is a losing game. That's what I believe, and there's academic and real-world research to back it up. So, if you do happen to visit an advisor who says he/she can pick winners and losers and wil shield you from the travails of the market, I'd urge you to keep looking.

Take your time, do your reading, ignore the "Investing Pornography" of CNBC and the like, and make your move from Merrill in a deliberate way once you are ready. There's no rush, and doing t right the first time will save you some hassle. Again, bump your ideas off this crowd for input-the price is right!
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Old 10-31-2008, 11:15 AM   #8
Confused about dryer sheets
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Hi All

Really great advice and I'm taking it all to heart. I've pushed the pause button and I am focused intensely on digesting the ER reading list. I'm currently on Solin's Smartest Investment Book. A real eye-opener from the very first paragraph. I also called Vanguard and had a talk with one of their customer service people to start investigating the particulars of a transfer -- not as difficult as I thought it would be. That was a relief.

I came into money about 10 years ago, and back then the advice I was given by friends/family was "stick your money in one of those gigantor 'safe' institutions." Back then I didn't have a single clue about money. Talk about being in a vulnerable position. I readily admit that we really haven't known up until recently the particulars of what was going on with what our FA was doing. Horrors! you say. Well, I've had a great deal of time in the last few months to really, really beat myself up about that and knowing that we were being taken for a ride and we put too much trust in people that don't have our best interests at heart. After a couple of months of feeling like a total chump, I decided to transfer the energy of feeling miserable into making myself smarter and taking control.

What I have to focus on now is educating myself on strategy, and putting ML to task on transparently explaining the current state of affairs. I'm going to take the advice of not making any big changes until we have a better sense of our end goals and more precise picture of what our portfolio looks like ultimately. And then we'll make our move armed with the best knowledge available from our reading, research and ER community.
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Old 10-31-2008, 11:23 AM   #9
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another 2 cents: if ML couldn't run their money any better than they have, you should think hard about them running yours.
A switch to somewhere like Vanguard will be painless for you (except for the part where you have to acknowledge those losses) from a paperwork standpoint.

Nothing wrong with being in cash while you get your investing legs under you.

Good luck to you in learning about handling your own investments. A FA can be of help to you, but your best bet is still knowing exactly what you are buying.
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Old 10-31-2008, 11:34 AM   #10
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Agree, go park it at Vanguard for now, and you probably will be able to get a free consult too if you have a certain level of $$ there.

And then go read Sarah's cowboy joke in Funny Joke Thursday
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