Investment Advice from Sean Miller
“I have worked for both a very large global investment management firm (Sanford Bernstein) and a very small local firm. The single most important item for both the investment firm and the investment professional is to be transparent. Transparency truly spans several important areas, including fees and products.
When it comes to fee transparency, the client should know 100% of the fees they are being charged. On a quarterly basis, the manager should disclose the fees in a dollar amount that the client paid to the manager, as opposed to a percentage. This should be done in a separate document from the client’s statement to enable the client to see exactly how much they are paying. When the client has fees automatically deducted out of their investment assets, it is harder to keep track of the true cost. Trust me when I tell you that many, many banks and brokerages actively thwart fee transparency in the name of pushing their products with hidden and excessive fees. I welcome fee transparency as I have no products, and my fees are likely 50% lower.
With product transparency, many banks and investment managers invest their clients in products that are simply not suitable for the client because they are not individually tailored. Conscientious investment management should provide a tailored, individual security solution portfolio for each client, and not a bunch of mutual funds or proprietary products that benefit the institution at the expense of the client. Think of it along the same lines of a doctor taking the Hippocratic Oath to “First, do no harm” to their patients. Investment managers should abide by a similar mantra, by not investing their clients in inappropriate, proprietary products.
Many years in the investment business have illustrated to me that transparency is the best path. Clients should know 100% of what they are being charged and 100% of how their assets are invested. If you are 100% knowledgeable about the fees you are charged and your investment manager has helped you understand your investments, then you have found the right firm and person to help you with your wealth. If not, I would love to be that person for you!”
Sean Miller, Miller Asset Solutions LLC
From Ivy Publications, publishers of Charlottesville Wine & Country Living, a semi-annual magazine of Life & Style in Jefferson’s Virginia; Charlottesville Wine & Country Weddings,an annual art book celebrating elegant country weddings in Jefferson’s Virginia; CharlottesvilleFamily