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Is the multiple advisor model costing you?

- November 2, 2015

Michael S. Schwartz, CFP®, AEP®

Chief Executive Officer

Wealth Management Advisor


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Each week I meet with an array of prospective clients who disclose that they have more than one active financial advisor. They might have one investment account managed at a broker-dealer and one or more elsewhere overseen by other advisors. So, I’ll often ask, “What are you trying to accomplish by having more than one advisor?” The common and expected response revolves around “diversification.” Mind you, they are also meeting with me to discuss yet another advisory relationship. I have found that this reasoning is deeply rooted: Investors may be reluctant to terminate an existing advisory relationship. They may have a short-term desire to validate or compare advisors. They may receive new and perhaps better advice, eschewing that of their current advisors; or they may simply fear losing everything.

Advisor diversification is quite common among high net worth investors. But more times than not, the strategy is flawed, counterproductive and outright detrimental.

Are your advisors’ responsibilities, strategies and recommendations integrated? The risk exists that each advisor is operating in a vacuum with little to no cross communication. This could result in improper diversification, a sub-optimal risk profile, holdings that neutralize one another or gaps in the overall financial plan. Ultimately, these factors may lead to undesireable results.

Are tax considerations being coordinated across advisors and accounts? Tax considerations mainly revolve around visibility. The risk comes if all holdings are not clearly known, visible and accessible. This results in a higher incidence of tax-related mistakes and may result in overpayment or unnecessary taxes. Tax leakage, which suppresses the amount of money compounding on your balance sheet, directly impacts performance. Not only does it result in lost opportunity cost, but it limits an advisor’s ability to offset gains via tax loss harvesting.

Are you getting the best pricing? When your assets are not aggregated, you lose scale. You are afforded better pricing proportionate to the amount of assets you have invested. Consolidation of accounts can save you thousands of dollars a year in reduced advisory fees.

Who is at the helm? My clients are busy professionals with demanding responsibilities at work and at home. They rely on me and my team to engineer their financial plans and manage all the moving parts. I am responsible to call out and execute the plays and help them put points on the board, all while avoiding costly turnovers.

Our relationship allows them to remain in the “owner’s box” rather than on the field. In the multiple advisor model, the client ends up quarterbacking all those relationships. Time is one of, if not the most valuable, commodities you have. If you are managing multiple advisors, you are taking precious time away from your family or business.

Having one advisor is the simplest, most efficient model. There is no compelling need to diversify advisors if your preferred advisor is trustworthy, employs an integrated financial-planning model, uses a reputable third-party custodian and has an open-architecture investment platform with low-cost funds and ETFs from reputable issuers.

More than anything, be certain the advisor you select represents your interests clearly as a fiduciary.


Guest Contributors
Michael S. Schwartz, Ron Deutsch, Drew J. Collins, Sharon Hayut, Michael Tanney, Paul F. Hoerrner., Jr. CFP, J. Scott Kephart
at Magnus Financial Group LLC. | | 800.339.1367


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Asset class performance was measured using the following benchmarks: U.S. Large Cap Stocks: S&P 500 TR Index; U.S. Small & Micro Cap: Russell 2000 TR Index; Intl Dev Large Cap Stocks: MSCI EAFE GR Index; Emerging & Frontier Market Stocks: MSCI Emerging Markets GR Index; U.S. Intermediate-Term Muni Bonds: Bloomberg Barclays 1-10 (1-12 Yr) Muni Bond TR Index; U.S. Intermediate-Term Bonds: Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond TR Index; U.S. High Yield Bonds: Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Corporate High Yield TR Index; U.S. Bank Loans: S&P/LSTA U.S. Leveraged Loan Index; Intl Developed Bonds: Bloomberg Barclays Global Aggregate ex-U.S. Index; Emerging & Frontier Market Bonds: JPMorgan EMBI Global Diversified TR Index; U.S. REITs: MSCI U.S. REIT GR Index, Ex U.S. Real Estate Securities: S&P Global Ex-U.S. Property TR Index; Commodity Futures: Bloomberg Commodity TR Index; Midstream Energy: Alerian MLP TR Index; Gold: LBMA Gold Price, U.S. 60/40: 60% S&P 500 TR Index; 40% Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond TR Index; Global 60/40: 60% MSCI ACWI GR Index; 40% Bloomberg Barclays Global Aggregate Bond TR Index.