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The Value of Investment Advice

“It takes a great man to give sound advice tactfully, but a greater to accept it graciously.” - Logan Pearsall Smith

By the time this monthly investment outlook has been distributed to readers, the outcome of the U.S. Presidential election will have been decided. Despite whoever is named the 45th President of the United States, life will go on as we begin the process of picking up the pieces. Don’t get me wrong; all is not well in U.S. politics. The country is split and people are unhappy. However, the optimist in me truly believes given enough time, we will heal and ultimately things will change for the better.

For many of us, this election has been more about whom we were voting against, rather than whom we were voting for. Political ideology aside, what many of us look for in a leader first and foremost is someone who exhibits a high level of integrity. Unfortunately, neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump have done much to change the perception that they come from a place of questionable character, in which a large slice of their success has been built at the expense of everyone else. Nevertheless, one of them is now our President. We should accept this and move forward.


Similar to the candidates above, the reputation and integrity of the investment management industry has also received a fair amount of criticism. From outright fraudulent operators who steal from their clients, to commission/fee hungry brokers/investment advisors motivated only by greed, some of the people employed in my profession are only interested in their own bottom line. However, I hope to highlight below the value and good work many of us in the industry do on behalf of our clients, which seem to garner little attention.

Vanguard, the mutual fund company best known for their belief in low cost, passive style index investing periodically publishes a research report entitled “Advisor’s Alpha.” Based on their research, they found that the value added by working with a competent financial advisor could add up to 3% annually averaged over a long time horizon (Figure 1). However as noted in their research, the benefits of working with an advisor is “likely to be intermittent, as some of the most significant opportunities to add value occur during periods of market duress or euphoria when clients are tempted to abandon their well-thought-out investment plan.”

What may surprise some investors is that half of the value added in their study was attributed to advisor “behavioral coaching” rather than asset management. According to the authors of the study, “Left alone, investors often make choices that impair their returns and jeopardize their ability to fund their long-term objectives... Advisors, as behavioral coaches, can act as emotional circuit breakers in bull or bear markets by circumventing their clients’ tendencies to chase returns or run for cover in emotionally charged markets.”

Helping support the idea of advisor value compared to the average investor experience, J.P. Morgan Asset Management produced the chart below in their latest “Guide to the Markets” publication (Figure 2). The chart shows 20-year annualized returns by asset class, as well as how an average investor would have done over the same time period. What stands out to me is how poor the average investors’ returns were over this period - 2.1% which lagged every other category on the chart including inflation 2.2%, homes 3.4%, bonds 5.3%, and the S&P 500 8.2%. As Walt Kelly exclaimed in his 1960’s comic strip Pogo, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Let’s face it; investing in financial markets is not rocket science, as many people can acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to manage their own portfolios. However, the cumulative effect of receiving sound investment counsel is significant from both a quantitative and qualitative standpoint. Not only does the investor stand to gain from better financial returns when compared to not working with a professional advisor, but he/she may also receive a quality of life improvement, as additional time is captured to pursue more desirable endeavors. Furthermore, think of your financial advisor as both an independent third party and coach attempting to bring out the best in you. Good investment management and financial advice not only helps to build wealth but also leaves many people with increased confidence and peace of mind.

When I decided to make the switch into wealth management, after a career as an institutional government bond and interest rate derivatives trader, I found the opportunity to build an investment management andadvisory business very appealing from a professional perspective. But more than that, I also realized that working directly with clients to help them achieve their financial objectives and secure their futures was also very fulfilling on a personal level. After all, I get to do what I enjoy for a living and help people in the process. This is what motivates me daily and this is why I do what I do.


Justin Kobe, CFA Founder & Portfolio Manager


Advisory services through Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, Inc., a Registered Investment Adviser. Securities offered through Registered Representatives of Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., a broker-dealer, member FINRA/SIPC. Cambridge and Pacificus Capital Management are not affiliated.Material discussed is meant for general illustration and/or informational purposes only, and it is not to be construed as investment, tax, or legal advice. Although the information has been gathered from sources believed to be reliable, please note that individual situations can vary. Therefore, the information should be relied upon when coordinated with individual professional advice. These are the opinions of Justin Kobe and not necessarily those of Cambridge Investment Research, are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed or acted upon as individualized investment advice. Investing in the bond marketis subject to risks, including market, interest rate, issuer credit, inflation risk, and liquidity risk. The value of most bonds and bond strategies is impacted by changes in interest rates. Bonds and bond strategies with longer durations tend to be more sensitive and volatile than those with shorter durations; bond prices generally fall as interest rates rise, and the current low interest rate environment increases this risk. Current reductions in bond counterparty capacity may contribute to decreased market liquidity and increased price volatility. Bond investments may be worth more or less than the original cost when redeemed. Diversification and asset allocation strategies do not assure profit or protect against loss.

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