Institutions often control huge shareholdings. In most cases they are acting as fiduciary agents rather than principals (direct owners). The owners of shares theoretically have great power to alter the companies via the voting rights the shares carry and the consequent ability to pressure managements, and if necessary out-vote them at annual and other meetings.
The pressure from this dual competition is why investment management firms must hire talented, intelligent professionals. Though some clients look at the performance of individual investment managers, others check out the overall performance of the firm. One key sign of an investment management company's ability is not just how much money their clients make in good times—but how little they lose in the bad.
Portfolio alpha is obtained by measuring the difference between the return of the portfolio and that of a benchmark portfolio. This measure appears to be the only reliable performance measure to evaluate active management. In fact, we have to distinguish between normal returns, provided by the fair reward for portfolio exposure to different risks, and obtained through passive management, from abnormal performance (or outperformance) due to the manager's skill (or luck), whether through market timing, stock picking, or good fortune. The first component is related to allocation and style investment choices, which may not be under the sole control of the manager, and depends on the economic context, while the second component is an evaluation of the success of the manager's decisions. Only the latter, measured by alpha, allows the evaluation of the manager's true performance (but then, only if you assume that any outperformance is due to skill and not luck).
Starting a business. Hanging an "open for business" sign on the door falls into what Hyers calls a "debt issue. Anytime you are taking on significant debt, that's a big deal," he says. "There is usually a debt stage in life for most people and it's often an overlooked time because the last thing someone wants to do when they are taking on debt is add an additional expense in the way of life insurance premiums." However, a life policy can prove invaluable in the event of an untimely demise, especially when you have dependents, Hyers adds. "When a business owner passes away prematurely, and there is no life insurance, it can oftentimes sink the business," he says. "There are no immediate assets to keep it going and too often there is not a succession plan."
In Australia, a company providing financial services must obtain a licence from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). However, there are no requirements for the individuals providing the financial advice, and the ASIC website states that "Holding an AFS licence does not provide a guarantee of the probity or quality of the licensee's services."
Children. Having children is another benchmark that individuals will begin exploring life insurance options, Mehta says. "When there is a child involved, it's paramount to have proper insurance in place that will ensure the future liabilities are covered," he says. "Since one of the most important aspects of life insurance is income replacement, life insurance becomes invaluable to cover future education expenses of the child if the primary income earner in the family is no more."
A fee-only CFP typically charges by the hour (usually $200 to $400) or by the task (a flat $1,000 to $3,000 fee, for example). Some might charge based on the size of the investment portfolio they are managing for you; this is called an assets-under-management fee and is typically 1% of your portfolio balance per year. The initial consultation to discuss your needs and their services is usually free.
Investment management services include asset allocation, financial statement analysis, stock selection, monitoring of existing investments, and portfolio strategy and implementation. Investment management may also include financial planning and advising services, not only overseeing a client's portfolio but coordinating it with other assets and life goals. Professional managers deal with a variety of different securities and financial assets, including bonds, equities, commodities, and real estate. The manager may also manage real assets such as precious metals, commodities, and artwork. Managers can help align investment to match retirement and estate planning as well as asset distribution.
Look for a fiduciary. In short, this means the planner has pledged to act in a client’s best interests at all times. Investment professionals who aren’t fiduciaries are often held to a lesser standard, the so-called sustainability standard. That means that anything they sell you merely has to be suitable for you, not necessarily ideal or in your best interest. This point is critical, and should be a deal breaker if a prospective planner is not a fiduciary.
The manager’s investment decisions are based on a variety of factors, starting with your savings goals (retirement, education, a large purchase) and time frame. You’ll also answer questions to help them assess your risk tolerance, or your ability to endure swings in investment returns and stock market fluctuations. Market conditions, historical performance, tax efficiency and investment fees also inform the manager’s investing strategy.