Personal Investor: What you should – and shouldn’t – expect from an investment advisor
How well do you really know your investment advisor?
The tie between client and advisor is probably one of the most misunderstood professional relationships. That’s a bit alarming considering they can outlast many marriages and have such a profound impact on how we live our lives.
Here’s what you can, and can’t expect from an advisor.
What you should expect
- Variety: You should have access to a wide range of investment products as your portfolio grows and strategies become more sophisticated. Some advisors only offer products from one company.
- Risk management: Investing is not all about blowing the lights out. As your portfolio grows, more attention should be paid to consistent returns and wealth preservation.
- Personalized strategy: The know-your-client rule means advisors need to know your level of investment knowledge, your goals, and your ability to deal with risk.
- Ongoing advice: Personal circumstances change and so do markets. A good advisor adapts and even anticipates change.
- Tax efficiency: Sometimes a registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) is the best place for your money. Sometimes a tax free savings account (TFSA) is best. Sometimes the best tax savings are outside a registered account. A good advisor can keep more tax dollars in your portfolio.
- Current information and research: Most retail investors don’t have time to keep on top of market developments. A good advisor is always at the helm and has good research to keep ahead of the trends.
- Fee disclosure: The investment fee structure in Canada is more complicated than necessary – and that confusion works well for the industry. A good advisor will keep you apprised of fees and fee changes.
What you shouldn’t expect
- Guaranteed returns: Anyone who pretends to know how equity markets will perform in the future is either naive or lying. Markets do what markets do, but a good investment strategy outperforms when markets are up and limits losses when they are down.
- Exclusive information: Some advisors can pretend to know more than anyone else, but in most cases, they only have access to information that is already publicly available. A good advisor knows where to find the best information.
- Mind reading: Advisors develop strategies based on the information a client provides. You need to make your objectives and concerns clear.
- Time travel: Some investments go sour. It’s a fact. You made the initial decision together and there’s nothing either of you can do to change it.