Local Relationship. Low Cost. It Shouldn't Be One or the Other

Kid at Computer Desk SM Imprint and Logo

The choice for investors who do not wish to manage their own money has often been, pay a high fee to a local advisor or to get a low fee, use one of the pimply faced kids at the national firms or now Robo Advisors, that recommend a pre-set menu of investments.

You shouldn’t have to choose between reasonable fees and/or a local relationship—we provide both!

For 10 years now I have been an advocate for both fee transparency and local relationships. I decided back in 2007 that we should create and manage our own portfolios and rather sell somebody else’s investments (as you do when you recommend a mutual fund or ETF). Yes, this is a massive work load and requires a lot of maintenance, but ultimately can lower the cost to the investor and enable us to tell the client firsthand what they are invested in, why they are invested in it, and what we plan on doing in the future. When you own someone else’s fund, you can only report on what they did.

Fees are certainly not all equal and/or easy to find. You might be charged by an advisor to oversee your account and have an investment manager fees, that you may not even know about. We classify this as “fee pot”. Sometimes there can be many hands in it.

170719 Fee Pot Jess edited

Local relationships matter…. When the markets are in the motion as they are in now, everything seems easy. As one of my old mentors told me, monkeys could have picked stocks in the 90s, meaning virtually everything went up and the past few years since the financial crisis feels the same. 

Apart from the on-going education you should be receiving from your advisor, I believe the true value is when things get bumpy and the emotional side of investing comes in. The decision to sell or reduce exposure should’ve usually been made well before the fear factor comes in. Having someone you trust to provide advice and guidance on top of managing investments is what makes the difference.

Our focus and where we feel we make a difference is our ability to provide a local relationship with one low fee that’s completely transparent. How low? The highest fee we charge for someone in our portfolios is 0.85% All in…There are no additional costs for trading, no monthly or yearly account fees, no planning fees, no shipping, no handling.

Compare that to the national average advisor fee of 1.23% for households with $250,000, and 1.91% including a mutual fund expense. (Source: 2016 Financial Performance Study by Investment News Research)

For those of you who want to know how we can do this, I have written a detailed article. Click here to read about our process.It’s no secret, all advisors can operate this way, most choose not to, or their firm won’t allow them to reduce fees to this level. Either way I’m happy to argue the merits of my beliefs against the establishment.

Should you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out.


In a fee based account clients pay a quarterly fee, based on the level of assets in the account, for the services of a financial advisor as part of an advisory relationship. In deciding to pay a fee rather than commissions, clients should understand that the fee may be higher than a commission alternative during periods of lower trading. Advisory fees are in addition to the internal expenses charged by mutual funds and other investment company securities. To the extent that clients intend to hold these securities, the internal expenses should be included when evaluating the costs of a fee-based account. Clients should periodically re-evaluate whether the use of an asset-based fee continues to be appropriate in servicing their needs. A list of additional considerations, as well as the fee schedule, is available in the firm’s form ADV Part 2A as well as the client agreement.