MarketWatch cites Steve on “‘Should I be wary?’ We retired in 2022 and gave $500,000 to a broker getting 1.5%. The stock market has gone up, but we’ve now only got $490,000.”

Knowing exactly what you own, why you own it and your total cost of ownership are all critical factors when working with a financial adviser, pros say.

Question: We retired in 2022. We placed $500,000 with a trusted fiduciary broker at a large national company. We pay him 1.5%. During the last two years, our $500,000 has steadily decreased to about $480,000 and $490,000. Since the stock market was at 36,000 when we invested, and currently at 38,000, shouldn’t we have at least gotten our money back? We live on Social Security and our 3% stock dividends, so that money cannot be counted as a stock loss because it’s simply a dividend.

We feel that our stock portfolio should have grown in the last few months. Should we be wary? What should we do to ensure that when the market goes up, our money does too? Is this something a financial planner should be helping with? (Looking for a new financial planner too?

One scenario to consider is that your adviser may have invested you predominantly in high dividend-paying stocks, says Stephen Craffen, a CFP and senior fee-only adviser at Atlas Fiduciary Financial. “Unfortunately, those have not performed as well as other market scores, particularly some of the large technology stocks,” says Craffen. “This is a typical case of poor education on the adviser’s part where he should have counseled you on considering a total return approach, not an income approach. Taking a total return approach would probably have led you to invest in a more balanced portfolio.”


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