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Old 02-26-2014, 02:10 PM   #101
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This kinda reminds me of an anecdote on another forum. The poster had dropped by a car dealership to look at new cars. They took his car keys to "appraise" his trade in. When he decided he wanted to leave without buying, no one could find the keys to his car. The poor guy was stuck there for hours enduring a hard sell.
This story reminds me of the last time I was treated shabbily by a salesperson. I was shopping for a car intended for basic transportation for DS. I had picked out the make and model we were interested in test driving and went to the dealership. They promptly diverted us to a guy who ignored my request and tried to get us interested in some higher priced models. I finally asked, "What do we have to do to see the model we're interested in?". I intended to walk out if we didn't get our way, but that did the trick. After only another half-hearted attempt to change the subject, he took us out and we got our test drive. It was a waste of time, though. The car was ok, but in my mind I had already decided I wasn't going to buy anything from this guy no matter how much I liked it.

Salespeople abusing their customers is nothing new. You just have to learn from bad experiences to know when the salesperson is actually helping and not just looking out for the highest commission possible.
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Old 02-26-2014, 02:13 PM   #102
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On the 529 topic.

I have 529's at Vanguard - I like that I can do a total market index fund, or an age based fund, etc. (I have my kids 50% in total market, 50% in age based... that's my preference for my kids - but is not a recommendation for anyone else.)

Good friends have their kids' 529's at Schwab. They are also happy. (I have most of my non-529 money at Schwab and am pleased with their customer service and selection of funds.)

As far as comparing the Ameriprise selected actively managed funds to specific index funds - you can't directly. You need to figure out your asset allocation and (bonds vs equities vs int'l - then slice and dice in sub sectors if you need/want to.) For example - I have a 60/40 equities to fixed/bonds ratio. That's what makes *me* comfortable at my current stage of life. Other folks swing much higher towards equities, and other folks swing to almost all bonds/cash/stable value, etc. You can use morningstar to determine what you current asset allocation is (putting in fund tickers and #of shares) - and mimic that with index funds. Or you can go with a lower cost active fund like Wellesley and still save money over the Ameriprise model.

Quicken also gives you a breakdown of your asset allocation if you enter your current holdings.

Good luck going forward.
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Old 02-26-2014, 02:49 PM   #103
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You were shown a "red flag" when she got annoyed at the 529 investment - she had to do something as she did not prepare for an adequate defense on that portion.
If OP is paying 5.75%, these are very small accounts. If the 529 accounts in total are $25,000 or more, the fee should drop under rights of accumulation. Not defending the FA, just stating facts. Most FAs don't like to deal with 529.most accounts are small unless grandparents or custodians do gifting and larger dollars are involved............

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Why don't you ask her to do a fund comparison with funds that you select - or those that have been mentioned in this thread? And set the time frame - of your choosing.
This FA is not that skilled........hammering on VG performance is amateurish...........
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Old 02-26-2014, 03:00 PM   #104
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Wellesley is an actively managed fund, though because of its past performance and Vanguard low expenses everyone likes it. Here we've been saying switch to cheap index funds, the FA says her active funds are better, and now we're saying our active funds are even better, based on past performance?
It is a good point but... Personally, I don't believe in the efficient market theory and therefore I am not wedded to index funds. What I do believe is that expense matter, a lot. Vanguard Wellesly is a good fund for the same reason that SCHB (Schwab Broad Market ETF) is good, they both have very low expenses. .15% and .04% I think index funds are good because (generally speaking) expenses are low. I have seen enough S&P 500 index funds in various 403B plans, with .5+% expense ratio to know that there is no magic in the word "index". I think we a bit of a dis service to new folks trying to breaking free of FA by focusing on index funds.

The reasons that Amerprise is such awful awful company isn't because they stick their clients in crazy patchwork of actively managed mutual funds. It is because they add layer upon layer of fees: 1% wrap fee, annual account fee, load to buy a mutual fund, 12-1 B to sell, and the funds have high expense. What really matters is expenses over the long term. The 2% plus they charge in fees each year adds up in hurry. In ten years 20% of so.

I think the passive vs active argument is pretty easily countered as Cucumber's FA showed. With thousands of funds out there it is never hard to find one that "beats the index." Since it practically takes a PHd in finance to make an accurate performance comparison, we end up with result like what just happened.

By focusing on expense it is much easier to leave. With 200K at Amerprise Cucumber is spending $4,000 to $5,000+ (a semester of tuition) a year for money management services. Moving to Vanguard she'll be spending $200-$500. She may like her Amerprise adviser but I she'd loves her kid being able to afford to go to a good school. If I was her I'd tell her Amerprise adviser she like her but just can't afford her.
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Old 02-26-2014, 03:13 PM   #105
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I am absolutely dumbfounded that OP finds it necessary to engage in a debate with the FA about the merits of Vanguard vs. Ameriprise. When I go to the bank to withdraw money, I would be aghast if the teller started arguing with me about whether I should make the withdrawal. It's none of their business, and I would certainly report such behavior from a teller to the bank's management. I don't see why the same shouldn't happen to this FA.
This FA's boss would grill her if she didn't try to give Cucumber the hard sell.

Cucumber: You've gotten good advice here. You have seen that comparable Vanguard funds produced better results than the one your FA has you invested in. The FA chose an inappropriate fund for her comparison (dishonest) and was taking a 5.75% load from you on another account. That should be all you need to know: You can do better investing for yourself and the FA you have selected has put her interests ahead of your own.

If you go back to the FA and offer her another chance to explain the past underperformance of BRBCX or any other fund in your present portfolio compared to either indexes or actual low cost funds, I predict the FA will have another argument ready for you ("Oh, but we wouldn't have had you invested in BRBCX durng that timeframe, we would have had you in another fund with better performance" or some other fairy tale).
It is your money. You worked hard for it and it is being taken from you. Get mad and don't let others take advantage of you. You do not have to be nice or provide any reason, your good nature is being exploited. Your FA will find another target, don't worry.
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Old 02-26-2014, 03:53 PM   #106
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This kinda reminds me of an anecdote on another forum. The poster had dropped by a car dealership to look at new cars. They took his car keys to "appraise" his trade in. When he decided he wanted to leave without buying, no one could find the keys to his car. The poor guy was stuck there for hours enduring a hard sell.
That happened to me once, but once the salesman informed me they'd 'lost' my keys I walked to the middle of the showroom floor and shouted very loudly, "The dealership seems to have misplaced the keys to my car? How many of you other customers have the same problem?"

My keys suddenly turned up...
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Old 02-26-2014, 04:08 PM   #107
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Cucumber...

Commission based advisor = inherent conflict of interest

Fee-based advisor = no inherent conflict of interest.

If you don't feel confident to DIY with investing and want an advisor, IMO, go the fee-only route for the parts you arent' confident with.

The #1 reason I choose to DIY is that I don't like someone telling me what to do with my money
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Old 02-27-2014, 08:05 AM   #108
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Do you have a list of the recommended funds and the comparable VG funds you took to her? If it's posted in this thread, I'll go back and look.
I asked her to send me the comparisons she made in our meeting since we went through them so quickly but she hasn't responded yet. When and if she responds, I'll be sure to post them so hopefully you all can critique her choices and let me know if they were truly "apples to apples" as she said.

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This is how a fee-based advisor works: Nice (at initial meeting) > Really Nice (when you are in office for initial evaluation) > Gushing (when you sign up) > Annoyed at your questions. The investor falls back in line, and the process starts over at Nice.
You hit it right on the nose!! Is it really that common and apparent?!?!
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Old 02-27-2014, 08:56 AM   #109
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Sigh...

You don't need to disqualify anything, all you need to do is call Vanguard and get the ball rolling to move your funds. The problem isn't how nice your FA is, it's your lack of resolve to take control of your own financial destiny.

The only thing keeping you handcuffed to Ameriprise is your reluctance to use the key you hold in your hand. Be strong - do it.
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No further contact with Ameri-crap is needed. Once you complete the paperwork with Vanguard, they submit the request to transfer the funds over. Done and done!
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Old 02-27-2014, 09:40 AM   #110
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I think we are being a little hard on the OP. I consider myself to be a reasonably savvy investor, and yet it was only in the last few years that I took the time to read enough literature to understand why index funds make more sense for most of us than actively managed funds. I made all the typical mistakes of looking at past performance and assuming it would predict future performance, or looking at performance of funds with different risk profiles and trying to compare them.

We have no way of knowing for sure whether the active funds this FA has chosen for Cucumber may beat the index. The reason I am more comfortable with index funds is because I know I have no control over how active funds might perform in the future, but I do have control over how much I pay these fund managers to mange the funds I own. I would rather hedge my bets on keeping costs down than hoping an FA picks the winners out of a very large pool of laggards.

I think the best thing Cucumber can do is to take some time to read about investing, the benefits of index funds, and the long term impact of fees and high expense ratios on overall returns.

I had dinner a few nights ago with a long time friend who also uses an FA. I explained some basic concepts about index investing. I also suggested he move some of his fixed income allocation to PenFed back when CDs were 3%. He asked his advisor about PenFed, who told him it wasn't worth the bother because the after tax returns were below 2%. When I explained the fact that CDs have no interest rate risk compared to bonds, his eyes glossed over. He used this to justify why he uses an FA. He really didn't understand this stuff, and just didn't want to take the time to read books and learn about it. He figured if the 1% he is paying keeps him from having to take on "one more thing", it's worth it.

We each have to decide where we spend our time and what we want to take on ourselves versus outsource. While I'm a big do it yourself person with finances, I clearly see that many others are not.
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Old 02-27-2014, 09:48 AM   #111
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I asked her to send me the comparisons she made in our meeting since we went through them so quickly but she hasn't responded yet. When and if she responds, I'll be sure to post them so hopefully you all can critique her choices and let me know if they were truly "apples to apples" as she said.
Be interesting to see if she will respond. It can be kind of tough to do a true comparison, benchmarks are not always a cut & dried comparison, and if the time period isn't in both up and down markets it might not be too meaningful. But it probably would be interesting. I will be surprised if there wasn't some obvious cherry-picking of the benchmarks.

And it isn't simply a case of whether her fund picks were better/worse than a benchmark - did she move you in/out of them? I'd say based on your risk tolerance, did the portfolio (not the individual funds over select time periods) do better than a benchmark low cost index B&H overall?

Quote:
Quote:
This is how a fee-based advisor works: Nice (at initial meeting) > Really Nice (when you are in office for initial evaluation) > Gushing (when you sign up) > Annoyed at your questions. The investor falls back in line, and the process starts over at Nice.
You hit it right on the nose!! Is it really that common and apparent?!?!
Yes and yes. If a salesperson is selling a product that actually has little/no/negative value to the customer, what else do they have to go on? They have to be nice, and dazzle you. If you get smart, they have no real defense, so they attack and move on to greener pastures. Makes sense to me that that is the only way it can be.

I think about this from time to time - I dealt with sales people in my line of work. I was responsible for selecting millions of dollars of high tech equipment, and in many cases I had a high amount of discretion in choosing that equipment. We had several suppliers and reps for similar equipment. Sure, they were 'salesmen' and 'saleswomen', and they were always going to paint their equipment in the best light. But they knew that a long term relationship and some trust was in their best interest, as next year would likely bring more $M orders, and they wouldn't get the orders if they let me down. And it wasn't too easy to just move to the next customer - there weren't too many others dropping those kinds of bucks as regularly as we were at the time.

You still take what they say with a grain of salt, knowing they aren't going to highlight any weaknesses in their product (though if the product really was unsuitable for my application, they wouldn't recc it to me, because they are thinking long term).

And they always tried to be your 'friend'. But it all works, because it was a win-win. I get a good product to use to make money for MegaCorp, they make a sale. But most likely, and from the posts we've seen here, with an FA like those from Ameriprise, there is no win-win. So they are friendly as long as they are winning, and then they move on.

-ERD50
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Old 02-27-2014, 09:53 AM   #112
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I think we are being a little hard on the OP. I consider myself to be a reasonably savvy investor, and yet it was only in the last few years that I took the time to read enough literature to understand why index funds make more sense for most of us than actively managed funds. I made all the typical mistakes of looking at past performance and assuming it would predict future performance, or looking at performance of funds with different risk profiles and trying to compare them.

We have no way of knowing for sure whether the active funds this FA has chosen for Cucumber may beat the index.
You do understand the OP's FA is with Ameriprise, right?
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Old 02-27-2014, 10:00 AM   #113
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You do understand the OP's FA is with Ameriprise, right?
Yes, I do. And I'm aware of their reputation. I'm just trying to put myself in the OP's shoes in trying to balance a company who has managed my money for years versus an anonymous internet chat forum telling the OP this is not a good idea. Sometimes reading things from multiple sources (books, magazines, internet articles) can give someone the comfort level to make the right decision, rather than relying solely on some strongly worded opinions from our forum.

And based on my dinner with my friend, it became clear that FAs are good at becoming an entrusted advisor who people rely on to help make decisions, and ultimately become dependent on so much that severing the relationship can be a very traumatic event, even if doing so is what's ultimately best for the individual.
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Old 02-27-2014, 10:11 AM   #114
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...The reason I am more comfortable with index funds is because I know I have no control over how active funds might perform in the future, but I do have control over how much I pay these fund managers to mange the funds I own. I would rather hedge my bets on keeping costs down than hoping an FA picks the winners out of a very large pool of laggards.

I think the best thing Cucumber can do is to take some time to read about investing, the benefits of index funds, and the long term impact of fees and high expense ratios on overall returns....
+1.

It's a lot easier to focus on what you can control.

Brings back memories of my early experience of investing putting trust in a FA who set up my IRA in a Market Timing system. At that time, I didn't have that much in and it was during a very bull market, but that led me to look for a calmer and more controlled way.
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Old 02-27-2014, 10:12 AM   #115
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+1
No further contact with Ameri-crap is needed. Once you complete the paperwork with Vanguard, they submit the request to transfer the funds over. Done and done!
My concern is that there could be unexpected tax issues, thus my earlier recommendation to get that out on the table. If the Ameriprise account is just liquidated and Cucumber has a big tax bill, the Cuke will not be a happy camper. Has it been established that this is a pretax account?
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Old 02-27-2014, 10:29 AM   #116
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Yes, I do. And I'm aware of their reputation. I'm just trying to put myself in the OP's shoes in trying to balance a company who has managed my money for years versus an anonymous internet chat forum telling the OP this is not a good idea. Sometimes reading things from multiple sources (books, magazines, internet articles) can give someone the comfort level to make the right decision, rather than relying solely on some strongly worded opinions from our forum.

...
I would agree with you if it was opinion only. I don't care much for anyone's opinions, whether an anonymous poster or a highly regarded professional that I may know. I want data and facts to back those opinions if it is something I might act on.

But there has been plenty of evidence & data presented regarding your odds of beating a "Couch Potato" portfolio with some more/less random FA and their fees. If not in this thread specifically, in many other threads and in the FAQ. Not just opinion.

It doesn't take long and it doesn't take a genius to read one of those papers that point out the relatively small % of active funds that routinely beat the indexes. Throw a 1% or more fee on top, and it's pretty clear.

I think the OP is 'getting it'.

We've had a few threads regarding people who saw the light and broke free of their Ameriprise FA and are glad they did and wish they had done it sooner. Have we had any that have gone through the numbers, and still are with Ameriprise? Not that I know of.

-ERD50
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Old 02-27-2014, 10:37 AM   #117
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Yes, I do. And I'm aware of their reputation. I'm just trying to put myself in the OP's shoes in trying to balance a company who has managed my money for years versus an anonymous internet chat forum telling the OP this is not a good idea. Sometimes reading things from multiple sources (books, magazines, internet articles) can give someone the comfort level to make the right decision, rather than relying solely on some strongly worded opinions from our forum.

And based on my dinner with my friend, it became clear that FAs are good at becoming an entrusted advisor who people rely on to help make decisions, and ultimately become dependent on so much that severing the relationship can be a very traumatic event, even if doing so is what's ultimately best for the individual.
My brother has a FA through Wells Fargo (barf!). I have tried to get him to go with index funds. He's read Millionaire Teacher and seems to understand the whole concept. He still wouldn't move so I asked him if she had big t*ts. He paused and then said "yes." I can't compete with that but he'd save a lot of money if he just went to a "gentleman's club" for a night every month. He'd certainly get more value for his money.
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Old 02-27-2014, 10:43 AM   #118
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I think the OP is 'getting it'.

We've had a few threads regarding people who saw the light and broke free of their Ameriprise FA and are glad they did and wish they had done it sooner. Have we had any that have gone through the numbers, and still are with Ameriprise? Not that I know of.

-ERD50
I agree cucumber is getting it but he's still wrestling with the "unpleasant situation" he knows will occur when his FA tries to keep his money at Ameriprise when he does the Vanguard paperwork. He hasn't quite grasped that the FA will never be conviced that he should move the money. She will fight to the end and then cucumber can expect a call from her boss. She may know it will be better for him or she may have drunk the kool aid. It doesn't matter. It just needs to be done.

We haven't had an Ameriprise troll in awhile. I recall various trolls argue for Ameriprise, Raymond James, variable annuities, whole life insurance and all sorts of other firms and products that are pretty uniformly condemned here.
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Old 02-27-2014, 10:49 AM   #119
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Sorry I haven't been able to reply yet due to work and I've been focusing on all the requirements to rollover my 529 plan because 5.75% front load is ridiculous in my opinion.

I appreciate all your responses and want to respond to each but I'm still learning how to use the quote function. So I apologize in advance. I do want to do a quick response since I really truly do appreciate all of the feedback.

I am trying to escape the grasp of Ameriprise. I'm taking baby steps. I had a bad feeling years ago when my FA enrolled us in a VUL and I learned later that it was bad and that it had a surrender charge. That's when I first questioned her intentions. Ever since I've been questioning everything and I think it's making our FA irritated which I feel she shouldn't be. I have a right to understand what's happening with my own finances and investments and it's fees. I think that is why she drags her feet in responding to my questions and sometimes we need to follow up multiple times in order for her to respond.

I am also looking into the Vanguard Wellesley Fund mentioned in a previous post. That looks like a much better option than what we are currently in with Blackrock!

I obviously still have a lot to learn so I'm trying to do my best as fast as I can because I want to run from all the fees if they aren't benefitting my family.

Again thank you for all your feedback!! Hopefully I have an update by this weekend when I'll have more time to respond to individual posts.
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Old 02-27-2014, 11:10 AM   #120
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... Ever since I've been questioning everything and I think it's making our FA irritated which I feel she shouldn't be. I have a right to understand what's happening with my own finances and investments and it's fees...
That's one of the principles of investing. In other words, "Don't invest in something you don't understand (feel comfortable) with." You know, the feeling you get when the car salesperson gives the hard (or maybe more effectively, the soft) sell.

Remember, no matter how nice the FA is, he/she is not your friend.

When I left the FA who put me in that market timing system (she was friendly and polite by the way), to make it official, I went her a letter saying that I decided to move on as I felt there was an inherent conflict of interest. I was honest and cordial and thanked her for her help.

In a way, Cucumber, with your knew found knowledge, you are just outgrowing your FA and she's the one with growing pains . Look at it that way.
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