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Before my eyes were opened to the machinations of the banking industry, I must in the interest of full disclosure admit that I once considered a career as a licensed financial advisor for big banks. At the time, I thought that the traditional route was the best way to help people achieve their financial dreams.

Years later and in a much different phase of my life and career, I’m able to help many more people through Crush the Street than I could ever have “helped” as a traditional big-bank financial advisor.

I hesitate to use the word “advisor” because “salesman” is a more appropriate term for what these individuals actually do for the big banks. Their prime directive is absolutely not to help you maximize your returns on your investment.

 

On the contrary, their number-one objective is to push whatever their bosses are trying to unload on the clients this month, be it mutual funds, annuities, or whatever will enable the bank to collect the greatest fees/commissions and thereby line the pockets of the CEO.

Courtesy: ESI Money

With Crush the Street, I’m able to provide actionable ideas to all comers: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” as the saying goes. Big-bank advisors don’t care if you’re tired, but they’ll turn away the poor and the huddled masses: if you’re not coming in with at least a quarter-million dollars, don’t bother.

And of course they punish the less financially fortunate; that’s how banks operate and screw the little guy (and the little gal). If you’re coming in with “only” a quarter-million dollars to invest, they’ll take higher fee – closer to 2 percent than 1 percent.

If you’re a millionaire, the fee might be closer to 1 percent, meaning that you’ll be paying someone ten grand per million dollars to invest your money, regardless of whether the investments make or lose money on your behalf.

Plus, the financial institution makes even more money off of you from the fees/commissions they generate when they steer your capital into mutual funds, annuities, etc. That’s in addition to any other fees and commissions they might be imposing – all of which are in the fine print, which they’re hoping you won’t read.

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At the end of the day, are they giving you your money’s worth? Daniel Godfrey, former chairman of the Investment Association, clearly believes not: “It costs you 1.5 per cent to get a return of 0.7 per cent. The industry is making more out of your money than you are.”

As Mr. Godfrey points out, the traditional asset management industry relies on hidden and less-than-transparent fees, commissions, and other charges to wrest money from clients, with “very complicated costs and charging structures” often confusing consumers.

Courtesy: paladinregistry.com

Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, similarly notes “an issue over the disclosure of charges that the funds industry needs to get to grips with,” while Financial Inclusion Center co-founder Mick McAteer explains that “investors are charged too much for subpar long-term performance” and that “the interests of asset managers and other intermediaries are not aligned with investors’, and asset managers are not fulfilling their responsibilities as stewards of other people’s money.”

I would consider McAteer’s assessment to be charitable, as “subpar” doesn’t begin to describe these fund managers’ financial performance on their clients’ behalf. Long-term historical data shows that the strategy of simply buying and holding the S&P 500 outperforms large-cap fund managers 92.2% of the time.

Even industry insiders will concede this, if pressed to do so: Fran Kinniry, head of portfolio construction for Vanguard Investment Strategy Group in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, admitted that when it comes to outperforming the market or knowing when to get out of a bear market, “That is really hard to do.”

Of course, they don’t find collecting fees “really hard to do,” as big-bank money managers were more than happy to charge their clients the usual fees and commissions even when they were incurring losses on behalf of their clients in 2000-2001, 2008-2009, 2011, and 2018.

And when they’re not funneling your capital into money-losing asset classes, they’re steering your funds into unfavorable investment vehicles like annuities – which sound like a great idea until you need to access those funds, which you usually won’t be able to do even in an emergency – or bonds, which have real (post-inflation) yields close to zero in the current market environment.

Courtesy: Yahoo Finance

These are details that big-bank financial advisors are loath to disclose to their clients – and they certainly won’t voluntarily disclose that self-directed investing in 2019 is easier and more cost-effective than it’s ever been. There are a multitude of low-cost and even no-cost brokers available today, and trading stocks is something you can do on your computer or even on your phone nowadays.

But then, the banking industry would prefer that you think of investing as something that’s prohibitively complicated – which I assure you, it’s not. Successful self-directed investing is something that you’re perfectly capable of doing, and you’re not alone: Crush the Street has an experienced team of researchers who publish high-quality reports so you can make informed decisions.

Years after exploring it as a possibility, I am inexpressibly grateful that I opted not to pursue a career as a registered advisor for a big bank. If I had done that, I would be relentlessly pushing terrible investment instruments onto unsuspecting retirees: I can only imagine my boss screaming “Coffee is for closers” at me while I pressure a hapless millionaire widow into signing her finances away.

You deserve better than that – and you’ll get better than that if you take control of your own finances and direct your funds toward solid, research-backed investments… and away from the moneyed thieves in the big-bank offices.

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