Is an Investment Advisor Really Worth the Investment Advisory Fee?

Sheila Willis |


Numerous surveys indicate an increasing number of high net worth investors are willing to pay for solid, unbiased, fee-only investment advice.  This is not surprising given the challenges of today’s markets.  On the other hand, a number of investors prefer to go it alone, thinking they can do better on their own or that investment advice is not worth the cost.

With the average fee charged by an investment advisor around 1%, some investors question whether the advice they receive actually amounts to a 1% advantage in their performance.  In other words, do you feel the advice you receive adds at least 1% to the value of your portfolio?  While this is a fair question, perhaps it is a difficult one to quantify.  Why?  Because a good investment advisor does much more than just pick investments that have and will perform well.

  • A good investment advisor has an understanding of the market as a whole and will properly diversify your portfolio to decrease downside exposure and withstand increased volatility.  A well-diversified portfolio will likely decline much less than the overall stock market, and so recover that 1% cost many times over.
  • A good investment advisor will keep you focused on your broad long-term objectives rather than narrowly focusing on the day-to-day market shifts that have no real impact on the overall performance of your portfolio.
  • A good investment advisor will help you avoid the common traps investors fall into such as trying to time the market or chasing the latest high performer.  These mistakes are often costly to investors making their way alone.
  • A good investment advisor will always have your best interests and long-term objectives in mind, saving you the time, energy and worry of trying to manage your portfolio on your own.

An honest evaluation of an investment advisor’s impact would concentrate as much on the losses to be avoided in the tough times as it would the gains to be captured when the markets are rallying.  Everyone looks good riding the high tide, but what about when the tide retreats?  To quote Warren Buffet “Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.”  Could you use an investment advisor to help you in these ways?