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Old 01-22-2008, 11:12 PM   #81
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Hi Joe

I assume that your Ameriprise advisor has been purchasing mutual funds for you.

If so the 2.75% commission is for the "wonderful" load mutual fund they will investing your money for you. That is still a significant junk of change on your $1 millions in savings that is 27,500. This wouldn't be so bad if you got anything special for the$27K but you don't. Zillions of studies have shown that No load mutual funds perform as well and generally better than no load mutual funds sold by places like Vanguard.

The second fees are embedded in the mutual funds. A typical load fund that Amerprise sells has an expense ratio of 1.5% on the assets under management, so if they have you in 4 mutual funds @200K each that is $12K in hidden fees you pay EACH YEAR.
In contrast a typical Vanguard fund has an expense ratio of .25% or $2K/year for $800K in stocks and bond funds. It is important to note that Amerprise will not tell you about the expense ratio. The only way to see the fees is to read those love 50+ page prospectus they send you. Although, the SEC does now require a chart showing you the impact of expense ratios in the first few pages. You can look up the fees at Morningstar or simply posted the fund symbols (prefered) or fund names on this thread. The board will be happy to help Amerprise lose another customer.


Finally the 3rd level of fees is the so call wrap fees, or financial consulting fees. Depending on your account size, greed of your financial advisor, and amount time they spend working with your. These fees can be between .5-1% of the total assets under management, or a flat annual fee, or in some case waived entirely, it is possible with a large account like yours that Amperprise may waive the fees. Although, I think this would be pretty rare.
Not to be nitpicky, but the "3rd layer" doesn't exist if they are charging a front-end load. That is, they can't charge a fee for assets, a load, and the ER of the underlying fund. Not that it's "all better" with the 2 charges...............
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Old 01-23-2008, 01:55 AM   #82
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Not to be nitpicky, but the "3rd layer" doesn't exist if they are charging a front-end load. That is, they can't charge a fee for assets, a load, and the ER of the underlying fund. Not that it's "all better" with the 2 charges...............
Ah so there is a limit to how much they can charge. It sounds like they did charge him a financial consulting fee also.
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A double digit raise for Joe
Old 01-23-2008, 03:36 AM   #83
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A double digit raise for Joe

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Originally Posted by JoeDreaming View Post
First, I can't say how glad I am that I found this forum!

About 1/3 of my savings are at Amerirpise - about $325k. Here are the mutual funds I have there, and I tired to get the expense ratio from Morningstar - let me know if I got that right at least. The bulk of my money is in the first 2:

fund - expense ratio
------------------------
GCTAX - 1.09%
GSHAX - 1.12%
GSMIX - 0.90%
GISAX - 1.65%
GGOAX - 1.47%
GCSAX - 1.26%
GREAX - 1.44%
GEMAX - 1.79%

^^^ that's about $265k
Then I have another $60 k in a Riversource annuity. I don't see any fund symbols for these but the annuity is made up of these allocations:

50.36% = RVS VP Div Eq Inc Fd
7.61% = RVS VP Hight Yld Bond
1.88% = RVS Life Fixed
16.12% = FTVIPT Mutual Shr Cl2
24.04% = Wagner Intl Small Cap

I guess my wrap fee was the annual consulting fee I paid - I'll save some embarrassment and keep that to myself.

So if I understand... much of this money is in ~ 1.1% expense ratio funds. If I move that to a 0.25% fund at Vanguard, I'd save about $2200 annually? I realize that's an improvement, but what I have now isn't awful, or is it?

(And should I still remain a Dennis Hopper fan?)
Joe, I am not sure you are going to like this post, since the object of the post is to make you mad (hopefully at Amerprise more than me) and feel a bit foolish and embarrassed. Think of it as an initiation ritual...
On the other hand I think you can get a double digit raise in your retirement income, if you follow my advice which I am fairly sure will be echoed by other regular and dump Amerprise.

First let me start with the positive. The Amerprise advisor and/or you aren't total financial idiots your portfolio of mutual funds is pretty well diversified across various type of assets. Without knowing more about the total $/fund and more importantly your other assets I can't know for sure how good it is but it doesn't suck

When you were researching your expense ratios for your mutual funds you may have noticed the Morningstar star rating for each fund. The M* star rating is probably as important as the expense ratio (in general higher ER lead to lower star ratings...) The M* star rating is the industry standard rating system of mutual funds. Think of it as a report card, a 5* fund is an A grade a 1 star fund is F. The primary component for the star rating is the performance of a fund vs it peers, so International funds are compared to other international fund, Large companies funds are compared to other Large companies etc. A secondary rating factor is the risk that fund takes, a fund that invests in risky stocks generally does better in bull markets, but lags behind in todays bear market.

Sadly your portfolio consists entirely of 1,2, and 3 star funds, which means that you have a D+ mutual fund portfolio. Assuming you've had these funds for 3 years, you paid the nice folks at Amerprise, and Goldman Sachs about $20,000 in total commission and expense fees for the privilege of their sage advice and lousy performance.

Let's translate this into $. Take the Goldman Sach International Small Cap fund GISAX. a 2 star fund. At first glance this fund doesn't look too bad in 2005 it was up 20% , 19% in 2006, and in 2007 it lost .6% in what was pretty flat market and over three years it averaged 6.27% per year. However, you have to look at the performance compared to other funds in the category. You see small cap international funds were one of the hot areas, the average fund in the same category was up 25% in 2005, 26.8% in 2006, and instead of losing a bit like your fund did was up 13% in 2007.
Overall this 2 star fund was trailed the category average by 10.8%/ year over the last 3 years and was in the bottom 5% of all similar funds. Assuming a 5-10% asset allocation and initial investment of 25K in the fund this would give you about 30K in contrast that same $25K in AVERAGE small cap international fund would be worth $40K. Now if you had it for 5 years it wasn't as bad but still would have cost you at least 10K. I won't bother with the math for the 1 star fund

In contrast lets look at a portfolio of three 100K investments in Vanguard funds made three years ago. The International Index fund VTGSX annualized 3 year return 16.5%, the Vanguard Total Stock Market VTSZX 5.8%, and the Vanguard Total Bond Index Fund 5.19%. (The last two are lower cost Admiral funds.) This portfolio would be worth about $393K, the total commission cost would be zero and your annual expenses would be running about $500/year.

Now expense ratio aren't the only thing to consider when picking a mutual fund but they are a big factor. I highly advise running firecalc and plug in your expense ratio vs the .15% average of my suggested portfolio. You'll find you can increase your withdrawal rate by almost 10% more if you consider the horrible performance of your funds.

As for your Annuity, my roommate has this same annuity as her only choice in her 403B, so I looked over the ridiculously thick prospectus. I'll just say it is the ultimate wealth creation investment vehicle, of course the wealth created is for the advisor not the owner. Sadly due to fees you maybe stuck with it for a while.

Vanguard isn't the only choice (just the one I am sure nobody will yell at me for) a fee only financial planner is possible choice if you really want some help on an on going basis. Vanguard, Fidelity and Schwab will offer you free initial consulting if you transfer over $250K worth of assets to them. We may quibble about their advice but it is better than the vast majority of Amerprise sales scum advisors.

Finally step back for a second. I am sure you have heard of the years of the million dollar bonus paid to wall street types. Every year the firm that tops the list big bonus is Goldman Sachs. I've interviewed and worked with dozens of Harvard, Stanford, MIT, Wharton, Berkeley MBAs who've gone to or come from Wall St firms including some from Goldman. Don't get me wrong these are sharp folks (mostly 25-35), perhaps this was part of the pitch the Amerprise guy gave you for choosing Goldman Sachs funds. Still, I've always been amazed that could get paid millions of dollars in some case tens of millions. It isn't like they can shoot a basketball, win American Idol, or paint a masterpiece. Why on earth does management pay them this much.

The answer; is for you to look in the mirror. It is folks like you who let them baffle you with dozen page brokerage statements, hundred page prospectus, and smooth Amerprise salesman. You are giving them million dollar bonuses and they are giving you dismal performance. Something isn't right! Or as one of the pioneers of early retirement research says, drive your financial advisors Porsche.

stepping off my soapbox...
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Old 01-23-2008, 03:57 AM   #84
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Generally, when I see the word Load (front-end or back-end) or Sales Charge... I run.

I would recommend VG. I have not use them... but T Rowe Price seems to have a good reputation and low cost also.

Fido has a good rep and service but is a mixed bag on expenses.

Ameriprise is an Insurance Company. I don't have to look to know the story on their fees and expenses. I can't comment on the performance. I would not waste my time to look.
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Old 01-23-2008, 09:54 AM   #85
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Ah so there is a limit to how much they can charge. It sounds like they did charge him a financial consulting fee also.
Here's a "little secret" about Ameriprise. The independent reps that are CFP's are ALL doing the following:

1)Charging a yearly "retainer" fee to "talk" anytime the client "wants". One guy I know charges a minimum of $2000 a year for this "service". Funny, I think an hourly rate would make him more money (if he was doing actual work), but I digress.

2)Amerprise reps HAVE to use Riversource, because Riversource is proprietary.

3)Ameriprise is big on insurance and annuities, I'll bet 80% of their clients have some money in Riversource, because that's "diversifying" in their eyes.

I used to have an Amerprise rep when DW and I first got married,and before I got into the business. The guy I had WAS a CFP, but we pulled our accounts when i tturned out I knew MORE than he did.........

BTW, Ameriprise calles the business practice described above as a "flexible approach to client service".......
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Old 01-23-2008, 10:09 AM   #86
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Here's a "little secret" about Ameriprise. The independent reps that are CFP's are ALL doing the following:

1)Charging a yearly "retainer" fee to "talk" anytime the client "wants". One guy I know charges a minimum of $2000 a year for this "service". Funny, I think an hourly rate would make him more money (if he was doing actual work), but I digress.
True, mine is $1000 a year
Quote:
2)Amerprise reps HAVE to use Riversource, because Riversource is proprietary.
Theoretically
Quote:
3)Ameriprise is big on insurance and annuities, I'll bet 80% of their clients have some money in Riversource, because that's "diversifying" in their eyes.
could be ... then I am part of the 20%
Quote:
I used to have an Amerprise rep when DW and I first got married,and before I got into the business. The guy I had WAS a CFP, but we pulled our accounts when i tturned out I knew MORE than he did.........
this could be a final outcome in the near future. Until then, I am still pretty happy with the service.
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Old 01-23-2008, 10:14 AM   #87
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True, mine is $1000 a year
Theoretically
could be ... then I am part of the 20%
this could be a final outcome in the near future. Until then, I am still pretty happy with the service.
As long as you see value, you can keep him. At least you take an interest in your money,many do not..........
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Old 01-24-2008, 08:29 AM   #88
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Clifp, and everyone else, I appreciate all of the advice. I'm trying to find out if I have any additional fees for taking my $$ out of Ameriprise. Next step... where the heck does one begin in picking which mutual funds to put money into, considering there are so many to choose from?! Guess I'll be doing a lot of reading before I make any moves.
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Old 01-24-2008, 08:50 AM   #89
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Clifp, and everyone else, I appreciate all of the advice. I'm trying to find out if I have any additional fees for taking my $$ out of Ameriprise. Next step... where the heck does one begin in picking which mutual funds to put money into, considering there are so many to choose from?! Guess I'll be doing a lot of reading before I make any moves.
As far as moving your accounts, they will no doubt have account transfer fees of $45-$60 per account. Usually IRA accounts are more than joint or single accounts.

The Riversource may be non-1035 able so you need to check with the prospectus.

This board is a great resource, but the decision on what funds and things is YOUR deal............
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Old 01-24-2008, 09:02 AM   #90
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JoeDreaming,
First off, congrats for taking the first steps toward educating yourself about YOUR money. Way too many folks let someone else make financial decisions on their behalf...which often enriches that someone else's wallet.

If you want to learn about Vanguard, for example, visit their website at Vanguard - Mutual funds, IRAs, ETFs, 401(k) plans, and more There you'll find lots of info about their philosophy of investing, their fees, etc. Also, if you plan to transfer at least $500,000 to VG, they'll prepare a complimentary financial plan and you have access to one of their CFPs for any questions you might have. Last year I moved my entire portfolio, 401(k)s, and IRAs to Vanguard and have been very pleased with them so far. Their website is very good; and I've learned a lot just by reading there.

You might also want to sign up at TRowePrice.com -- not necessarily for their investments (I don't know much about how they compare in costs, etc.) -- but because by being registered on their site, you have access to the fuller tool box of Morningstar tools. Using their various tools to compare various mutual funds, to learn about the investing styles of the mutual funds, comparing ETFs to comparable mutual funds, etc. is very very informative. Also, you might want to wade into the Bogleheads forum (John Bogle started Vanguard.)

And finally, feel free to post here any asset allocation you might be considering. The folks here are very, very good at analyzing your choices and making reasonable suggestions for improvement.
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Old 01-24-2008, 10:02 AM   #91
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Clifp, and everyone else, I appreciate all of the advice. I'm trying to find out if I have any additional fees for taking my $$ out of Ameriprise. Next step... where the heck does one begin in picking which mutual funds to put money into, considering there are so many to choose from?! Guess I'll be doing a lot of reading before I make any moves.
Joe, if you haven't lurked or posted on the Bogleheads forum, I think it would be useful for you. Read some sample suggested portfolios / asset allocations for people with similar risk tolerance.

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Old 01-24-2008, 10:23 AM   #92
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Also, if you plan to transfer at least $500,000 to VG, they'll prepare a complimentary financial plan and you have access to one of their CFPs for any questions you might have.
I wonder how the CFPs at Vanguard get paid. They can't charge $250 a hour like the folks around me do.............
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Old 01-24-2008, 11:49 AM   #93
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Clifp, and everyone else, I appreciate all of the advice. I'm trying to find out if I have any additional fees for taking my $$ out of Ameriprise. Next step... where the heck does one begin in picking which mutual funds to put money into, considering there are so many to choose from?! Guess I'll be doing a lot of reading before I make any moves.

Hi JoeDreaming,
I ended up closing my IRA account with Ameriprise in October, and transfering it over to Vanguard. Ameriprise charged me $50 to close the account and the "advisor" (who never advised me on anything) said that that was the standard account closing fee. I went to Vanguard because I want to go about this myself and not let some woman I've never met get too much money from me. I am slowly building up mutual fund accounts there, starting with the S&P 500 fund, and next is an international fund. It's easy to do research on their website and compare funds.

Good luck!
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Old 01-31-2008, 07:15 PM   #94
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Hi all,
My wife has a 403-b account in an annuity with Ameriprise, and it was cruising along OK the last few years.
Then I got her statement the other dqay for 4th Q '07 and it was down drastically, ~ -14%. I feel this is terrible, given that the S & P 500 was only down ~ -3%.
So I started digging around the internet and that's how I came across this wonderful site....thanks for being here.

I am inclined to move her 403-b funds to a Vanguard or other no load mutual fund, not as much due the 4Q result as for the pompous atitude of our Ameriprise rep.....NEVER has called me personally, always has "his girl" call and say "Mr. B. would like you to come in and meet with him." I always said "No thanks," as I felt if I wans't important enough for him to call me himself, the heck with him.
So, my big question is, "What are the tax ramifications of moving this money?" Is it like moving an IRA where as long as we don't touch it, it is not taxed?
Any help would be appreciated.
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Old 01-31-2008, 07:43 PM   #95
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Hi all,
My wife has a 403-b account in an annuity with Ameriprise, and it was cruising along OK the last few years.
Then I got her statement the other dqay for 4th Q '07 and it was down drastically, ~ -14%. I feel this is terrible, given that the S & P 500 was only down ~ -3%.
So I started digging around the internet and that's how I came across this wonderful site....thanks for being here.

I am inclined to move her 403-b funds to a Vanguard or other no load mutual fund, not as much due the 4Q result as for the pompous atitude of our Ameriprise rep.....NEVER has called me personally, always has "his girl" call and say "Mr. B. would like you to come in and meet with him." I always said "No thanks," as I felt if I wans't important enough for him to call me himself, the heck with him.
So, my big question is, "What are the tax ramifications of moving this money?" Is it like moving an IRA where as long as we don't touch it, it is not taxed?
Any help would be appreciated.
I am not an expert on 403-b plans, but I assume it is like my 401k. If you call up Vanguard or Fidelity (or whoever you want to move it to), they will help you exticate your funds without tax ramifications. I have heard (on this board) that your may get a $50 'fee' from Ameriprise for closing the account. Good luck.
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Old 02-01-2008, 09:59 AM   #96
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Hi all,
My wife has a 403-b account in an annuity with Ameriprise, and it was cruising along OK the last few years.
Then I got her statement the other dqay for 4th Q '07 and it was down drastically, ~ -14%. I feel this is terrible, given that the S & P 500 was only down ~ -3%.
So I started digging around the internet and that's how I came across this wonderful site....thanks for being here.

I am inclined to move her 403-b funds to a Vanguard or other no load mutual fund, not as much due the 4Q result as for the pompous atitude of our Ameriprise rep.....NEVER has called me personally, always has "his girl" call and say "Mr. B. would like you to come in and meet with him." I always said "No thanks," as I felt if I wans't important enough for him to call me himself, the heck with him.
So, my big question is, "What are the tax ramifications of moving this money?" Is it like moving an IRA where as long as we don't touch it, it is not taxed?
Any help would be appreciated.
Two things:

1)is the 403B account currently active, meaning it's a retirement plan for where she works? If it is, you have to check whether you can roll over money to an IRA while still employed.

2)If it's an old employer, you can open an IRA wherever you want and do a rollover.

BTW, there are market classes that have been hit harder than the S&P 500. IMHO, the S&P is NOT a good measure for ALL domestic funds.........
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403-b answer
Old 02-01-2008, 05:28 PM   #97
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403-b answer

This is a 403-b from her current job, so I will check with them and/or the Mutual Fund Co. we choose to roll it over to, to see if it can be sent there without any tax consequences.

Thanks for the answer and the advice.
mgrips
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Old 02-02-2008, 12:59 AM   #98
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the pompous atitude of our Ameriprise rep.....NEVER has called me personally, always has "his girl" call and say "Mr. B. would like you to come in and meet with him." I always said "No thanks," as I felt if I wans't important enough for him to call me himself, the heck with him.
.
Why would the rep call you in regard to your wife's 403b?
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Old 02-02-2008, 11:32 AM   #99
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Her 403-b is invested with Ameriprise, and he works for Ameriprise.....
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Old 02-02-2008, 02:05 PM   #100
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Oh...... Your post sounded like you were concerned that the Ameriprise rep wasn't personally calling YOU (at least that's what you said) and not that you were concerned that he wasn't personally calling your wife.

You said: "the pompous atitude of our Ameriprise rep.....NEVER has called me personally, always has "his girl" call and say "Mr. B. would like you to come in and meet with him." I always said "No thanks," as I felt if I wans't important enough for him to call me himself, the heck with him."

It's her account, not yours.
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