Skip to main content
All Posts By

Ascendance Wealth

4 Untold Secrets of Selecting a Wealth Manager

By Ascendance No Comments

The wealth management industry suffers no shortage of jargon, opaqueness, or “experts” willing to deploy their services. The difficulty in selecting a wealth manager who is able to best direct financial decisions is often only surpassed by the importance of receiving premium advice.

Advisor selection (or advisor retention) should consist of the following considerations:

1. Does this advisor have the proven intellectual capability and knowledge to guide my financial life?

Investigate the advisor’s background and credentials, ranging from an undergraduate discipline to corporate experience to professional designations. For the latter, consider that even after taking an average of over 1,000 hours of rigorous study and a minimum of four years of professional experience, fewer than 1 in 5 candidates become a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) charterholder. CFA charterholders have mastered the art and science of securities analysis, asset allocation, and portfolio management skills. Investors need the confidence that an advisor can handle the breadth and depth of issues underpinning your financial objectives.

2. Do I (as the client) have unfettered / unrestricted access to my own money?

Your advisor using an independent custodian should be a table stake, meaning you are at least receiving a quarterly statement from an objective organization such as Charles Schwab, Fidelity, or Shareholder Services Group, for example. However, many advisors still create artificial barriers between you and your money, with the sole intent being to make your departure as difficult as possible. Often, their hope is that inertia will continue to rule, while at a minimum forcing you to have that unpleasant and somewhat confrontational discussion about leaving. If you are unhappy with your current advisor for any reason (too little communication or too much, poor returns, poor strategy, high costs, or anything else), then you should be able to ‘regain’ your money absent any hassle; think of the relative ease in onboarding after selecting a wealth manager – any migrations away should be painless as well ; let the amount of friction serve as another influence in your choice of continuing professional advisement.

3. Does this advisor provide market comparables for every outcome?

You should be afforded the opportunity to examine how your situation compares with others for every facet of your relationship:

  • Fees paid to the advisor – is this fee-based, commission-based, or something else?
  • Fees paid for the securities – are these fair relative to similar allocations you could be pursuing? Any sales loads? Any ongoing fees?
  • Portfolio gains and losses – are these easily explained?
  • Risks within your portfolio – instead of receiving performance-only measures, am I aware of the risk burden carried?
  • Comparable portfolios – how are you (the advisor) invested?

Most, if not all, of these considerations should be reported in a concise manner, preferably in the form of a “dashboard” that is easily decipherable, not overwhelming, and serves as a single source of important measures.

4. What will our interactions look like?

All aforementioned considerations may diminish if the personal interactions aren’t replete with clear communication, professionalism, and at a frequency (monthly, quarterly, or impromptu) or medium (digital, phone, or in-person) you desire. While far too often an advisor is selected based upon personality instead of competence, the two do not have to be mutually exclusive. You are selecting the wealth manager, you are the client, and the wealth being discussed is yours. Demand better.

At Ascendance Wealth, results matter. Our highly-qualified team is led by a CFA charterholder who oversee entire portfolio, communicate with clients on regular basis. Ascendance wealth also provides innovative wealth dashboards for clients to monitor their progress independently.

If you would like to learn more about selecting a wealth manager for the first time, or are simply curious about receiving a second opinion regarding your current investment strategy, simply call 303.720.3279 or email All initial consultations are free, will contain neither sales pitches nor contracts, and can be at the Ascendance Wealth office or another location of your choosing

Fiduciary Designation

By Ascendance No Comments

A rule unveiled by the Labor Department in 2016 (and initially on track to take effect this April) would attempt to move financial advisors from a suitability standard to a fiduciary standard.  President Trump now has this rule under review to potentially rescind or revise.

Note the standard would only apply to tax-advantaged retirement accounts and not taxable investment portfolios.   

Suitable = clients must receive recommendations that meet the objectives and means of an investor.

Fiduciary = clients must receive recommendations that meets the clients’ best interest, avoiding any compensation conflicts.

Prevent salespeople from impersonating financial advisors – ask which standard is followed.

Investment Account Statements – “A” for Effort?

By Ascendance No Comments

While the turning of the calendar is often a preamble to some time-honored renewal rituals, such as resolutions and budgets, reminders of progress from the prior year are also present. One crucial report card most usually examine are portfolio statements from various investments vehicles strewn across various brokerage houses.
Depending on the year, and likely asset class, some accounts no doubt have increased in value while some have retreated, but the presentation of the reports are usually visually stunning.  Pie charts, bar and column graphs galore!

However, is the information amplified of most insight?  What about benchmarks, meaning how is the account faring as compared to other similar alternatives?  What about progress towards goals, or a ‘percentage of completion’ approach to the original intended destination?  How volatile was the account(s) over the year, and how does that compare with the suitability for the owner or the purpose?  What are the cumulative costs of
those decisions, and who is actually benefitting?

Wealth management, and finance in general, is a complex arena, rife with risk of woefully underperforming personal needs and expectations.  Ensure information and results are meaningful.

Life is busy, and money is important – partner wisely.