While compensation is necessary when choosing a financial advisor, it’s not the only factor to consider. At our firm, we believe that excellent and trustworthy professionals can be found across all compensation structures in the financial industry. However, we believe it’s easier for advisors to recommend the best solutions for their clients when their compensation aligns with their client’s best interests.

While commission products can offer viable solutions, we do have some concerns with the fee structure. In particular, we don’t like that the fees associated with these products are often complicated and can be left off statements, leading some clients to believe they’ve received free financial advice mistakenly.

It’s important to understand the different types of fees that financial advisors and financial companies can charge.

Compensation Models

  • Fee-only advisor fees: These advisors can only be paid by you, as they work exclusively for you. Their compensation can take the form of a flat fee, ongoing retainer, or a percentage of your Assets Under Management.
  • Fee-based advisor fees: These professionals can receive compensation from multiple sources, including an agreed-upon percentage of your Assets Under Management, flat financial planning fees, and commissions for financial products they sell.
  • Commission fees: A significant portion of the industry still operates on a commission-based structure, with advisors receiving compensation every time you purchase a new mutual fund, insurance policy, or annuity.
  • Transaction charges: Custodians that house your investment assets will typically charge two types of fees: a small percentage-based custodial fee, and a transaction fee for sales and purchases of individual investment products.
  • Fund management fees: Your portfolio likely contains mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, or index funds, which are products offered by Investment Fund companies. These fees can vary widely, with actively-managed funds typically having higher fees than passively-managed ones. It’s important to note that some fees may be withdrawn before asset values are calculated for quarterly statements, and there may be large fees or penalties associated with buying or selling funds that you haven’t owned for a specific period of time.

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Volatility Drag

Volatility drag, often unnoticed by many investors, plays a significant role in the performance of investment portfolios, especially in markets characterized by high volatility. Understanding volatility drag is crucial for making informed investment decisions and managing long-term investment performance.

Understanding Volatility Drag

Volatility drag refers to the negative effect of investment volatility on compound returns over time. It occurs because losses have a more significant impact on portfolio value than gains of the same magnitude. For example, if an investment loses 10% one year and gains 10% the next, the investment will not return to its starting value due to the mathematical asymmetry between gains and losses. This phenomenon underscores the importance of minimizing large fluctuations in investment value to protect long-term returns.

The Mathematics Behind Volatility Drag

The mathematical principle underlying volatility drag is relatively straightforward but profound in its implications for investors. The key concept is that percentage gains and losses are not symmetrical. A 50% loss requires a 100% gain to break even, not a 50% gain. This asymmetry means that volatility (up and down movements in price) can erode the compound growth rate of an investment, even if the arithmetic mean of the returns seems healthy.

Example of Volatility Drag

Consider an investment with the following annual returns: +20%, -15%, +10%, and -5%. While the arithmetic mean of these returns might suggest a modest positive performance, the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) would tell a different story, factoring in the volatility drag and showing a lower effective return than the arithmetic mean would suggest.

Implications for Investors

  • Risk Management: Understanding volatility drag emphasizes the importance of risk management strategies, such as diversification and the use of derivatives for hedging, to minimize significant downturns in portfolio value.
  • Investment Strategy: Investors might consider investment strategies that aim for steady, consistent returns over those with potentially higher but more volatile returns. Such strategies might include investing in low-volatility stocks, index funds, or using dollar-cost averaging to mitigate the impact of market fluctuations.
  • Psychological Aspects: Volatility drag also highlights the psychological challenge for investors who may overreact to short-term market movements. A long-term perspective is crucial for successful investing, as frequent trading in response to volatility can exacerbate the drag on returns.
  • Performance Evaluation: When assessing investment performance, considering both the arithmetic mean return and the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) can provide a more comprehensive view of an investment’s performance, factoring in the effect of volatility.

Financial Planning Fees

  • Fees can be paid monthly, quarterly or semi annually
  • Actual fee will be determined on complexity and scope after an initial consultation
Investment Advisory Fees

Fee Rate: %

Annual Fee: $

  • Fee charged on a percentage-tiered rate
  • Fee based on total assets managed
  • Fee covers services such as portfolio design, continuous monitoring, rebalancing, and personalized guidance

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