Frequently Asked Questions
What is an RIA and how is it different from a big-name broker?
As a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA), AssetGrade is legally required to work in the best interest of investors—we are fiduciaries. Brokers are only required to pass a “suitability” standard for each product they sell to investors. Learn more about the differences between brokers and advisors with these helpful from Forbes and the The New York Times article.
Is AssetGrade right for me?
Our individual investors are typically HENRYs (High Earners, Not Rich Yet), they have assets of at least $100K across their investment accounts and are able to save more on a regular basis.
With retirement plan consulting, our clients are typically small to mid-sized businesses with plans ranging from start-ups to plans with $75M in assets. We help business owners and plan administrators tailor plan features to meet the specific needs of their business and employee demographics, meet their Fiduciary duties and mitigate risk. We strive to reduce their administrative burden so they can focus on growing their business.
Some clients are new to investing and others are sophisticated investors who have spent decades working in the investment industry or other fields. Whatever your financial background, AssetGrade can help you manage and grow your wealth. We can tailor a plan that meets your financial goals and is appropriate for your age, level of risk and other factors.
I don’t think my broker charges me any fees, so why would it make sense to switch to AssetGrade?
Some brokers and financial advisors receive commissions or fees from insurance or fund companies, giving them an incentive to sell you products that may not be in your best interest. This can create potential conflicts of interest and result in fees that are not always transparent to you as a client.
If you're not sure what you're paying your broker or advisor, ask for a detailed breakdown of your account fees and charges. You may also want to ask if your broker or advisor receives commissions or fees from the sale of financial products in your account.
As a fee-only RIA, AssetGrade does not accept commissions or payments from fund companies or other third-parties for the sale of financial products. We select best in class mutual funds and exchange traded funds, based on rigorous financial analysis, and we always look for low-cost options to try and keep your overall fees down. This helps us to avoid potential conflicts of interest and keeps our interests aligned with our clients.
How much does AssetGrade cost?
Investors who work with an advisor tend to fare better. Advisors help to make sure your assets are invested appropriately, encourage right long-term behavior, implement the best asset allocation strategy, keep costs down, and monitor and rebalancing effectively. While a typical advisor fee is about 1%, a Vanguard study shows that working with an advisor can add about 3% in net returns each year. Learn more.
At AssetGrade, we strive to be fair and transparent and to keep the costs low for our clients. We do not receive hidden commissions or charge hidden fees. Minimum assets of $250K across accounts (minimum fee of $2500).
Our Fees For Individual Investors
Your Investment/Assets Fee
First $250K 1.0% of assets
$250K - $1M 0.8% of assets
$1M - $2M 0.7% of assets
$2M - $5M 0.6% of assets
$5M + 0.5% of assets
For the retirement plan needs for your business, please contact us for more information on a custom proposal.
What is the process of working with a financial advisor? How much time is involved?
As for how long the process takes, everyone’s situation is different. Investing is a highly regulated field, with a lot of required paperwork. We are committed to helping you set up your accounts as quickly and as easily as possible, and we typically get our clients set up after a few discussions.
I already know how to invest, so why would I sign up with AssetGrade?
One of the most valuable services that AssetGrade provides is holistic planning. We help you assess your needs and goals, then align your investments across all of your investment accounts in a tax-efficient manner.
If your time is limited, you may find it difficult to keep up with your investments, particularly rebalancing across accounts as appropriate. Even experienced investment professionals have difficulty finding the time to manage their own investments, which means it is probably even tougher for people outside of the industry, even if they know how to invest. We provide ongoing monitoring and rebalancing to help keep your investments aligned with your goals.
AssetGrade can help you stay on top of your investments by rebalancing your investments based on an allocation approach that you approve.
How does AssetGrade invest?
AssetGrade takes a sensible approach to investing, based on years of experience. We are not seeking the latest hot stock, but build well-diversified and well-balanced portfolios aligned with our clients’ needs. Our investment approach has passed the acid test, as our clients include people with decades of experience in the investment industry.
After working with our clients to understand their needs, goals and financial situation, we design a customized portfolio comprised of best-in-class mutual funds and ETFs chosen from over 10,000 funds across hundreds of fund companies.
We work with our clients for goal-based investing and/or asset-liability matching - aligning their investment assets with their goals, as well as their existing and expected liabilities, taking into account the level of risk that the clients are comfortable taking on and the level of risk for their job/income. The outcome from this work is a target asset allocation across the clients’ investment accounts. For example, having 35% in US stocks to be held in a taxable brokerage account, 7% in emerging market stocks in an IRA, etc.
The next step is to choose the specific investments for each asset class, typically a mutual fund or ETF. To do so, we choose the best-in-class funds based on the following criteria:
- Percentile ranking by Morningstar category – how the funds have done compared to other funds
- Manager tenure – how long the fund managers have been managing these types of investments
- Expense ratio – how much the fund company charges
Our investment philosophy is comprised of the following three pillars:
- Limited tactical asset allocation – not trying to time the market, since most people have not been able to do so consistently over time. We stick to a long-term approach by focusing on the target asset allocation.
- Passive investing (index funds or ETFs) where it makes sense, such as large-cap US stocks, and active investing (non-index funds) for areas where managers have had more success beating the benchmark, such as high yield bonds.
- Portfolio rebalancing regularly, which forces buying low and selling high. This is hard for most folks to do, since emotionally most of us are wired to do the opposite.
How does AssetGrade serve clients that are not in the Atlanta or Boston regions?
AssetGrade provides a high level of service through the type of communication preferred by each client. This includes services such as phone, email and video through Skype/FaceTime/GoToMeeting. Our clients are spread across the US.
How do I know my money is safe at AssetGrade?
We do not touch our client’s funds directly. Our client’s money is held at Fidelity Investments, as our custodian. This helps to prevent fraud, which can happen when the advisor has discretionary authority over the money and also holds the funds.