Vanguard's Financial Planning Services - any advice/opinions?

christineOctober 2, 2009

Has anyone used Vanguard's financial planning services? It sounds like a very thorough plan for the cost. Can anyone say what experience they have had with it? Or even any pitfalls with having them do it versus an independent financial advisor? Here is an overview:

I would appreciate any advice anyone can give. Thanks!

Here is a link that might be useful: List of Vanguard Services

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I have used it and am very satisfied with it. After managing things on my own for a few years, I finally decided to go to an independent fee only financial planner. He was very good, and he and his staff guided me on how to make certain changes to consolidate our accounts, because they were spread in several different brokerage houses, and it was hard to keep track of things. They also guided me in certain critical decisions about asset allocation. And they were impartial -- they said Fidelity or Vanguard or T Rowe Price or several other firms were good. We picked Vanguard because we like the way they are structured -- it's almost like an investment cooperative -- not really but something like that.

We have used the Vanguard financial planning services and are very satisfied with them. They of course are partial to Vanguard funds, especially the broadly diversified index funds, and they guide you on how to put together your portfolio, or they'll do it for you. I'm a do it yourselfer -- I do most of my transactions on the web, and do not feel the need for too much hand-holding. But it is available, and they will do transactions for you if you have difficulty doing them yourself -- at no extra charge.

The printed product that they deliver is very useful and professional, about the equal of what we got from the independent firm. And they are available for annual check-ups to guide you in any change in allocation scheme, or if you have any questions.

The independent firm charged us $1500 around 2002/3, and Vanguard services are free (to us because our balance is high enough to allow that).

We might still go to the independent firm for guidance on whether/when to annuitize my wife's TIAA-CREF accounts, but only after seeing whether the Vanguard person can deal with that issue.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2009 at 11:01PM
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I attempted to use them and actually went through much of an exercise with their planner but when I told him the funds I wanted advice about may not be retirement funds they said they couldn't work with me. They would work only on retirement planning.

I still ended up using Vanguard funds - just went to an independent planner for the advice. I like the Vanguard website, tools, etc. and the lower cost funds.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2009 at 11:25PM
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Yes. We found them to be extremely helpful and knowledgeable. We rolled over our 401k to accounts with them.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2009 at 1:30PM
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I just found out that some large brokerages have a division that offers free referrals to vetted independent CFPs. In case there are people who would prefer using non-Vanguard funds, you can contact firms like Schwab or Ameriprise, and they can refer you to a Registered Investment Advisor that is willing to work on an hourly basis without needing to use that brokerage's other services. These advisors are vetted through a fairly stringent process - Schwab requires at least 10 years of experience, among other qualifications.

It's good to see there are so many more resources available for us middle-class folks that were formerly reserved just for the wealthy.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2009 at 7:29PM
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I am so relieved to hear all of your praises for this service!

Haus - I always value your opinion here, thank you. Right now we have small amounts in many other places for our 401Ks like you describe, which we are looking to consolidate for simplicity. It is too much to keep track of and we like Vanguard, so we were definitely considering moving it all there. Especially now that the market has stabilized. Moving it (which can take 1-2 weeks??) was undesirable 6 months ago as you might have missed a high fluctuation. We're very nearly recovered since Aug 08, although that includes our contributions during that time, too. But I am fine with that. We bought a lot of stuff on sale as far as I am concerned! That is a good thing! :) I am a do it yourselfer also! If I am given good info, I can make good decisions and make the trades. I plan on getting us on the right track and reanalyzing 1-2 times a year and rebalancing, moving money to less risky investments over time, etc... We are 37. I feel pretty good about the track we are on.

Thanks for the recommendations, Gibby & Cali. It has helped solidify our decision.

jkom - Yes, I like that they are offering us free services for the amount that we are transferring in. It took us awhile for our funds to recover to an amount that made it free, but I was ok with that because as I said, making a transfer that takes 2 weeks in a volatile market wasn't really desirable.

Is there anyway to transfer funds more quickly?

Thanks for the recommendations! This makes me so much more comfortable with doing this!

    Bookmark   October 4, 2009 at 2:36AM
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Talk to Vanguard about transferring your funds and they will walk you thru the whole process. Don't try it before you talk to them or you might get stuck with penalties. We moved from Schwab to Vanguard a couple of years ago. Schwab was good, but we put a good part of our IRAs into Vanguard's Target Retirement funds, and Schwab's version of the same type fund carried a lot higher fee.

Vanguard is great for customer service. They walked me thru the process of starting up the accounts, and also with setting up the computer access and a slight problem that I was having.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2009 at 10:27AM
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christine-"Is there anyway to transfer funds more quickly?"

Yes. Check out the SEC website. They have a check list of how to expedite transfers with minimal problems.

A link that may be useful:

Transferring Your Brokerage Account:
Tips on Avoiding Delays

    Bookmark   October 4, 2009 at 1:06PM
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If you are not sure about financial decisions, try to consult a financial advisor. They can help you in finding a number of options which can be best for you.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 4:36AM
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