4 Reasons Your Advisor Isn’t Recommending Index Funds | Common Sense Investing with Ben Felix | Summary and Q&A

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January 8, 2018
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Ben Felix
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4 Reasons Your Advisor Isn’t Recommending Index Funds | Common Sense Investing with Ben Felix

TL;DR

Many financial advisors are not recommending index funds due to commissions, career risk, their value proposition, and a lack of knowledge.

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Key Insights

  • 😘 Only 11.3% of Canadian investment fund assets are in low-cost index funds, suggesting a majority of financial advisors do not recommend them.
  • 🥺 Commissions create a conflict of interest for advisors and can lead them to recommend high-fee products that pay commissions.
  • 🫰 Career risk and the value proposition of advisors can make it challenging for them to switch to recommending index funds.
  • 🖤 Lack of knowledge and motivation, as well as anti-evidence from actively managed fund companies, contribute to advisors not recommending index funds.
  • 🫰 Actively managed strategies increase fees, transaction costs, and risk, while statistically offering a small chance of outperforming index funds.
  • 😘 Taking on active risk in a portfolio has a low probability of working out in the investor's favor.
  • 😘 For most people, it is more sensible to invest in low-cost index funds to capture market returns.

Transcript

I often hear stories from investors who have asked their financial advisor for low-cost index funds, and have been met with some sort of rebuttal. Those are only stories, but we do know that as of the end of 2016, only 11.3% of Canadian investment fund assets were invested in low-cost index funds. Based on the data, it is probably fair to say that ... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: Why are commissions a reason why financial advisors may not recommend index funds?

Many financial advisors in Canada operate on a commission-based model, and index funds do not pay commissions. This conflict of interest can lead advisors to recommend high-fee products that generate large commissions for themselves, rather than low-cost index funds.

Q: Why might career risk prevent financial advisors from recommending index funds?

Financial advisors who have been in the business for a long time have likely been selling actively managed funds or picking stocks. Switching to recommending index funds would mean admitting that their previous approach has not been adding value, potentially leading clients to question their expertise and credibility.

Q: How does the value proposition of financial advisors relate to recommending index funds?

Historically, financial advisors have added value by selecting mutual funds or individual stocks for clients. Recommending index funds, which aim to match the performance of the market, would eliminate their ability to add value and potentially impact client retention.

Q: Why might advisors lack knowledge or motivation to recommend index funds?

Understanding the academic research supporting index investing requires time and effort. If advisors have been successful with their current approach without index funds, they may lack the incentive to invest the necessary time to become knowledgeable about index funds.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Only 11.3% of Canadian investment fund assets were invested in low-cost index funds, indicating that most financial advisors are not recommending them.

  • Financial advisors in Canada often sell mutual funds that pay them commissions, creating a conflict of interest.

  • Advisors who have been in the business for a long time and have been selling actively managed funds find it challenging to switch to recommending low-cost index funds.

  • The value proposition of financial advisors has traditionally been centered around selecting mutual funds or individual stocks, making it difficult to recommend index funds.

  • Many advisors lack knowledge or motivation to understand the academic research supporting index investing, while actively managed fund companies perpetuate anti-evidence.

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