I pay my advisor 1% but “the only communications I receive are invoices”. So I want to regain sole control of my accounts without having to talk to him about it. Is that possible?

“I want to regain control of my accounts and manage them myself – perhaps in consultation with a paid advisor.”

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Question: Eight years ago I hired a financial advisor because the rounds of layoffs at work were becoming more frequent and I wanted to know if I had enough savings to pay for a pension. The financial advisor started managing some of my accounts for me for a 1% fee. It was a significant amount per year, but the advisor helped me prepare for and navigate retirement, move abroad and buy a new house/sell the old one so I was mostly happy. But my original advisor retired and I was reassigned to a new person who never emailed or phoned me to introduce themselves or find out anything about me. The only communications I receive are the quarterly bills for the fees and the email from the receptionist to make an appointment. (Looking for a new advisor? This tool can help you find an advisor that fits your needs.)

I left this running during the pandemic because I didn’t really have the mental breadth to handle it, but now I want to take back control of my accounts and manage them myself – perhaps in consultation with a paid advisor. In retirement, the financial advisor fee was my largest annual expense, more than my taxes and more than my property taxes in a very expensive area, and I no longer feel it’s worth paying such a high fee.

I’ve called the financial firm that runs my accounts a few times to ask how I can regain sole control of the professionally managed accounts, but I can’t seem to find anyone who can tell me how. They seem at a loss and say they don’t know what I mean by a “professionally managed account” even though they are labeled as such in my records. Am I using the wrong terminology? It seems like it should be a simple matter like filling out a form for each account because we’ve set it up to be managed at all, but I can’t seem to find the right form. I want to avoid calling the financial advisor and asking him to do it if possible. Any ideas on the best way to go about it?

Do you have a question about working with your financial advisor or want to hire a new one? Email picks@marketwatch.com.

Answers: First, let us help you get those financial accounts back under your sole control — and then we’ll figure out how to find a new financial advisor, if you want one. If you want to end your relationship with the financial firm that maintains your accounts, you should use the language that you want to remove the advisor’s trading privileges and transfer your account from the institutional advisor platform to a self-directed personal account, says Landmark Wealth financial planner Joe Favorito Management. Basically, an institutional advisor platform is just the trading platform that registered investment advisors such as Charles Schwab & Co, TD Ameritrade and Fidelity have access to. A self-directed retail account gives the investor the ability to trade stocks, mutual funds, and ETFs on their own. To ensure you are prepared when requesting the change, have your account numbers, company name and advisor name ready when you call.

There are often management contracts that detail how you can end your relationship with your advisor. Therefore, experts recommend referring to any paperwork that you may have originally signed. Before making the switch, you may also want to obtain copies of your bank statements or other transaction-related documentation your current advisor may have. That being said, you don’t have to go through a lengthy breakup call — there aren’t many strings attached to a relationship like this, and as long as you don’t have pressing questions or concerns for your current advisor, you can proceed with controlling your self-directed account without looking back.

“I would find another institution that is clear on your objectives and then put in place the transfer papers to transfer the assets to your new account. Make sure it goes from one institution to another so you don’t take possession of the money, [because] If you do, it could become a taxable event and require some additional steps to initiate a 60-day rollover with your taxes,” says Certified Financial Planner Don Grant of Fortis Advisors. And make sure the financial institution where your funds are currently held “liquidates the positions before you transfer the funds to the new account, otherwise you may have to pay one-time liquidation fees at the new institution,” Grant says . Be wary of transfer fees that may come with your switch and any tax implications such as

The next step is to figure out whether or not you want to hire an advisor to manage these accounts. (Looking for a new advisor? This tool can help you find an advisor that fits your needs.) “Whether that makes sense or not depends on your ability to speak up [financial] problems on their own,” says Favorito. But one thing is clear: your current advisor does not meet your needs. “There are a variety of independent financial advisors that not only offer more engaging and comprehensive services, but also offer alternative fee structures,” says certified financial planner Kevin Cheeks of ImpactFi — who mentions resources like NAPFA, XY Planning Network, or the Fee-Only Network might be worth a look be.

And instead of the percentage of assets under management you use, you might want to try something different. Cody Garrett, a certified financial planner at Measure Twice Financial, explains that some advisors offer comprehensive planning without managing client investments. “This service model and terminology is for guidance only and seems to fit your expectations perfectly. Although an advisory-only planner doesn’t manage client investments, they do provide specific investment advice to help you manage your own accounts,” says Garrett. Here’s what an hourly and tariff-related consultation could cost you.


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