Columnist image
Dale Jackson

Personal Finance Columnist, Payback Time


In a perfect world we find a good investment advisor with a reputable firm early in life, and that person takes us – and our portfolio – through to retirement. But things rarely work that way. Investment advisors change professions, retire themselves, or change firms. In some cases the advisor’s firm gets purchased by another firm.

If you find yourself in a situation where your advisor parts ways with their firm, they may ask you to remain as a client. At that point you must choose between the advisor or the firm. Here are a few things to consider:

- Will your investment strategy be impacted? Some firms have their own investment strategies and often the advisors must fall in line.

- Will the advisor be forced to take on more clients? Investment firms often consolidate to lower costs. If that means consolidating client lists, that could mean more attention for high-net-worth clients and less personal service for you.

- Will you receive the same quality of research? Bigger firms tend to have more resources to research investments on a global level. An advisor that strikes out on their own might not. 

- Do they have access to a wide selection of investment products? A new firm may restrict clients to their funds, which may not perform well. You may also be forced to sell existing products for a fee.

- Will the fee structure change? Some firms have flat fees as a percentage of assets under management, some charge commissions, and some do both. Be sure to get a clear explanation of how much you will be paying for advice.