Everyone wants to be a millionaire, but very few actually follow a plan that will help them get there. (Surprise: It’s not to play the lottery and just sit back and hope to be the next big winner.) Here are some real, solid, time-tested tips from the best financial advisors Greenville, SC.
1. Work With a Fiduciary
When choosing a financial advisor to work with, an investor should only consider working with a legal fiduciary. Acknowledged fiduciaries, by law, must always put an investor’s interests first. If not, there is legal recourse.
With non-fiduciary advisors, an investor has no such protections.
Beware: Representatives at most of the big brand-name brokerage firms are not fiduciaries, and therefore, are not held to this higher ethical and legal standard. Instead, they follow a suitability standard – they simply have to recommend something that is “suitable” to an investor, even if it costs him or her more and pays the “advisor” a higher commission.
This can be confusing, so always ask an advisor if he or she is a fiduciary – and get the answer in writing.
2. Work With a Fee-Only Advisor
Working with a fee-only fiduciary is another smart step to take to become a millionaire.
“Financial advisors” who work on commission are really just salespeople who are trying to sell you a product to line their pockets, not yours. To avoid those conflicts, make sure you work with a fee-only financial advisor. Fee-only advisors are only paid by the investor, through fees, so there is no incentive to push you toward a certain product.
This too can be confusing, so here are some guidelines:
- Avoid fee-based advisors. “Fee-only” is very different from “fee-based.” Fee-based advisors charge fees but can also be paid on commission for selling you insurance or other products. These folks are not always easy to spot until you know what to look for. They have licenses to sell investments. And they often use them as a faux credential.
- Use independent advisors. Avoid working with a big brand-name firm. Aside from usually charging more to pay for their expensive advertising, the brand-name firms are often public companies. This means that their first loyalty is to their shareholders, not to you. They often try to sell you the products that make their shareholders more money. For this reason, we highly recommend you avoid working with an advisor who works for a publicly traded company.
- Avoid advisors who sell insurance. Insurance products pay the biggest commissions. So, if you work with a “financial advisor” who sells insurance for commission, you’ll likely end up with an expensive solution. Instead, find a true fee-only advisor who can help you determine your actual need for insurance and help you shop around for the most cost-effective solution.
Breaking the Cycle
Another way to get on the right path to becoming a millionaire is to educate yourself on market cycles and behavioral economics, including the principles of persuasion. It’s possible to control these behaviors, but it does take time, commitment and discipline. It’s not easy. Even professionals have problems when managing their own money.
That’s why it can be extremely beneficial to work with an expert financial advisor to help guide your investment decisions. Having an advisor who will be your advocate (instead of a salesperson) can help you avoid these expensive mistakes. When the markets get frothy, they can help you avoid overinvesting in what appears to be the “sure thing” that everyone is talking about. When markets get scary (remember the global financial crisis), an experienced professional who has studied and understands market cycles can help you avoid these common panic-selling behaviors.
It also helps to understand your risk tolerance. Understanding what to expect can literally be the difference between weathering the storm and making an irreversible decision that can destroy your wealth.
Risk can be a confusing topic. But it’s one that investors need to know about. Because once you have money, one thing is clear: You don’t want to lose it.
This might sound pretty straightforward, but many investors commonly get caught in bad situations. To avoid this, you have to have an experiential understanding of risk!
We see the same stories play out over and over: New clients come in thinking they are diversified, but nearly every working client we help retire is taking much more risk than they should. Many think they are “low risk” because they are invested in U.S. stocks that they know. Or because they haven’t seen their investments fall in half (like U.S. stocks did twice in the last 20 years). Sometimes investors inherit portfolios – these too may be all stocks. That may have been appropriate for Grandad, who knew the companies well, but now that it is your money, it may need to be treated differently.
If you ever studied physics, you know that momentum is the strongest force in nature. And it’s what causes people to take too much risk. Because when you were accumulating wealth, like in your 401k, you benefit from volatility. If U.S. stocks keep going up, there’s no problem. But history tells us that never happens. Stocks go up and stocks go down (they revert to long-term mean). When they go down next time, you don’t want to get caught unprepared.
Smart investors understand that markets don’t go up in a straight line. They also understand that periods of over-performance are often followed by periods of lower returns. Smart investors understand that looking globally for opportunities (in equity and fixed income) may not only increase return, but can reduce risk. And that by doing so can increase their odds of achieving the goals they seek.
Consider working with an investment manager who works with your accountant, or ideally have them under one roof, so you can capture as many of these opportunities as possible. At Global View, we have an in-house accountant who works with our investment managers to make sure our clients can identify and take advantage of any opportunities that can get them more return without taking unnecessary risk.
These strategies will prove their worth in the next market downturn.