Vanguard Change to Personal Adviser Services

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NYC1
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Vanguard Change to Personal Adviser Services

Post by NYC1 » Wed Aug 21, 2019 8:23 am

Vanguard last week made a change to the way you interact with PAS (Personal Advisor Services). Now instead of always speaking to your own PA you are routed to a "pool" of "with more specialized client service teams."

I am not sure if this change is being made for one of these reasons:

1. Too many people calling PAS? Not enough time to speak to everyone?
2. Loss of staff or lack of hiring of a sufficient number of PA?
3. Cost-cutting measures?

In addition to paying for this service to manage vanguard funds and rebalance as needed or to be a voice of reason related to your finances, why then pay the additional costs associated with this service?

Has anyone else heard about this or experienced this?

I would love to post a message to Rick Ferri and/or Taylor Lariomore to comment on this topic? Maybe a podcast episode on using a "Personal Advisor Pros/Cons"?

I do not know them personally but I have been listening to Rick's podcasts and believe that both Rick & Taylor have done all of us a great service with their work here and respect their opinions!

Thanks in advance for your reply!

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Re: Vanguard Change to Personal Adviser Services

Post by RadAudit » Wed Aug 21, 2019 8:31 am

NYC1 wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 8:23 am
I do not know them personally but I … believe that both Rick & Taylor have done all of us a great service with their work here and respect their opinions!
+1
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Re: Vanguard Change to Personal Adviser Services

Post by 12thKnight » Wed Aug 21, 2019 8:50 am

Former Vanguard crew here.

My guess is that it's a little bit of all the reasons you cited. Big picture, it's been difficult for Vanguard to retain crew in PAS, and combined with insane demand for the service, it's been at least as difficult to scale the offering to the public. That's been true for years now.

Full disclosure: I have deep disdain for PAS. One of Jack Bogle's signal contributions to investing was telling people - like Chef Gusteau in Ratatouille - anyone can cook. PAS "advisors" do little more than put a human face (and now an interchangeable human face) on robo. They pour in a few variables, prescribe total/total/total/total and the rest of their value is being a human circuit breaker in between market hysteria and the investor.

But if the investor has read an ounce of what Jack Bogle wrote, they already KNOW that they need to diversify and ignore market noise. They're already "staying the course". Why pay Vanguard 30 basis points for something you don't need?

If I'm paying for advice, I expect more: actual personalized goals based planning which includes advice on insurance, tax loss harvesting, NUA and estate planning strategies - things that PAS cannot even begin to approach with pouring my accounts into some impersonal robo meat grinder and serving up a total/total/total/total burger.

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Re: Vanguard Change to Personal Adviser Services

Post by NYC1 » Wed Aug 21, 2019 9:03 am

First, thank you for taking the time to reply and for your prior insight into Vanguard.

I believe many of us who read investing books, read Boglehead posts and list to Rick on Podcast know pretty much how to best handle the basics of investing for retirement. My problem is this:

1. I am getting much closer to retirement age than I care to admit. I maybe have only about 10-15 years left of retirement savings years left to invest before I start taking withdrawals.. or that is the plan right now!

2. I am married and my spouse has absolutely ZERO interest in investing, finance and how much to save or how to balance a portfolio! I think of Vanguards PAS as the "hand to hold" not so much for me as for my wife! I have spoken to the PA and they share stories with me about the person who did the investing dies and then the spouse is fast talked into moving funds to some expensive "investment" that has high fees and it basically robbing the client of their funds!

Rick Ferri spoke about this topic in Episode 12 of his most recent podcast! Here is a fellow who spends LOTS of time helping others gain investing knowledge and was listening to a fast-talking investment "advisor" in his home town in Texas!

This is my main concern, but now that I do not have the same PA.. the value to me is reduced! I don't have a person who knows my financial situation clearly as Rick speaks about in Episode 12 of his podcast!

So I am not sure if I should pull out of this service or just find a person who I can trust to assist me and mainly my spouse!!!

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Re: Vanguard Change to Personal Adviser Services

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Wed Aug 21, 2019 9:17 am

12thKnight, thank you for your insider info. By simple observation of members posting here about their PAS experience, I had concluded that PAS involved a person entering information into a computer and it spitting out a series of non-changable-non-modifiable funds and percentages that mimic a simple target date fund makeup. It does seem that over the last couple years, it's gone from a 3 fund to a 4 fund (adding int bond) to a bunch of funds, simply separating the totals into separate fund sizes (total US equity went to Large cap + mid cap + small cap). To me, it's been moving towards the types of portfolios we all criticize from Financial Salesmen who devise complicated portfolios only to scare their clients.

The more I read, the more I agree with Jack Bogle. Total US Stock plus Total US Bond. The end, period, /thread. I don't need to pay some data entry specialist to put my age into a computer and spit out a convoluted portfolio for no reason when the above 2 fund will do just as well without scaring anyone.
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Re: Vanguard Change to Personal Adviser Services

Post by 12thKnight » Wed Aug 21, 2019 9:20 am

NYC1 wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 9:03 am
First, thank you for taking the time to reply and for your prior insight into Vanguard.

I believe many of us who read investing books, read Boglehead posts and list to Rick on Podcast know pretty much how to best handle the basics of investing for retirement. My problem is this:

1. I am getting much closer to retirement age than I care to admit. I maybe have only about 10-15 years left of retirement savings years left to invest before I start taking withdrawals.. or that is the plan right now!

2. I am married and my spouse has absolutely ZERO interest in investing, finance and how much to save or how to balance a portfolio! I think of Vanguards PAS as the "hand to hold" not so much for me as for my wife! I have spoken to the PA and they share stories with me about the person who did the investing dies and then the spouse is fast talked into moving funds to some expensive "investment" that has high fees and it basically robbing the client of their funds!

Rick Ferri spoke about this topic in Episode 12 of his most recent podcast! Here is a fellow who spends LOTS of time helping others gain investing knowledge and was listening to a fast-talking investment "advisor" in his home town in Texas!

This is my main concern, but now that I do not have the same PA.. the value to me is reduced! I don't have a person who knows my financial situation clearly as Rick speaks about in Episode 12 of his podcast!

So I am not sure if I should pull out of this service or just find a person who I can trust to assist me and mainly my spouse!!!
Part of what you are looking for, and thought you had, was a relationship. With this change, folks like you are going to be stuck in a speed dating rut of telling the same story to twelve different people in a row and hoping someone "gets it". Vanguard thinks they're adding scalability, but I suspect that what they're gaining in scheduling efficiency will be more than lost in average call (handle) time.

You're not wrong. Some of the greatest value an advisor can provide is knowing your story: what is important to you, not Dick and Jane down the street and not what the financial pornographers in mass media say is important (which is likely completely unimportant clickbait both specifically and generally). You want someone to understand your goals, your spouse's goals, and for that someone to help navigate the surviving spouse through a difficult time. You're understandably leery of an advice trade which still rewards and promotes sociopathic avarice.

I think there is value in having a fee-only financial planner as a household fiduciary resource. Investments really only are a small part of the holistic problem. But finding a person that fits, making sure they 'get it'...it's not easy. None of it is, but nothing worth doing ever is.

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Re: Vanguard Change to Personal Adviser Services

Post by mickeyd » Wed Aug 21, 2019 9:22 am

But if the investor has read an ounce of what Jack Bogle wrote, they already KNOW that they need to diversify and ignore market noise. They're already "staying the course". Why pay Vanguard 30 basis points for something you don't need?
+1 :moneybag
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Re: Vanguard Change to Personal Adviser Services

Post by pkcrafter » Wed Aug 21, 2019 9:26 am

12thKnight wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 8:50 am
Former Vanguard crew here.

My guess is that it's a little bit of all the reasons you cited. Big picture, it's been difficult for Vanguard to retain crew in PAS, and combined with insane demand for the service, it's been at least as difficult to scale the offering to the public. That's been true for years now.

I think the above is probably correct.

Full disclosure: I have deep disdain for PAS. One of Jack Bogle's signal contributions to investing was telling people - like Chef Gusteau in Ratatouille - anyone can cook. PAS "advisors" do little more than put a human face (and now an interchangeable human face) on robo. They pour in a few variables, prescribe total/total/total/total and the rest of their value is being a human circuit breaker in between market hysteria and the investor.

This is also correct.

But if the investor has read an ounce of what Jack Bogle wrote, they already KNOW that they need to diversify and ignore market noise. They're already "staying the course". Why pay Vanguard 30 basis points for something you don't need?

Why pay? Because some do need the support. Some investors are their own worst enemy and they can net more in the long term with PAS than they can without PAS.

From Vanguard:


When it comes to investing, your natural reactions can get in the way. It's human nature to overthink, overreact, and, at times, be overwhelmed. With Vanguard Personal Advisor Services, an advisor serves as an emotional circuit breaker so you don't abandon a well-thought-out plan.


If I'm paying for advice, I expect more: actual personalized goals based planning which includes advice on insurance, tax loss harvesting, NUA and estate planning strategies - things that PAS cannot even begin to approach with pouring my accounts into some impersonal robo meat grinder and serving up a total/total/total/total burger.

You are speaking of the difference between a robo service and a full hands-on advisor service which costs at least 1%.

Paul
Last edited by pkcrafter on Wed Aug 21, 2019 9:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Vanguard Change to Personal Adviser Services

Post by bertilak » Wed Aug 21, 2019 9:35 am

12thKnight wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 8:50 am
Former Vanguard crew here.

My guess is that it's a little bit of all the reasons you cited. Big picture, it's been difficult for Vanguard to retain crew in PAS, and combined with insane demand for the service, it's been at least as difficult to scale the offering to the public. That's been true for years now.

Full disclosure: I have deep disdain for PAS. One of Jack Bogle's signal contributions to investing was telling people - like Chef Gusteau in Ratatouille - anyone can cook. PAS "advisors" do little more than put a human face (and now an interchangeable human face) on robo. They pour in a few variables, prescribe total/total/total/total and the rest of their value is being a human circuit breaker in between market hysteria and the investor.

But if the investor has read an ounce of what Jack Bogle wrote, they already KNOW that they need to diversify and ignore market noise. They're already "staying the course". Why pay Vanguard 30 basis points for something you don't need?

If I'm paying for advice, I expect more: actual personalized goals based planning which includes advice on insurance, tax loss harvesting, NUA and estate planning strategies - things that PAS cannot even begin to approach with pouring my accounts into some impersonal robo meat grinder and serving up a total/total/total/total burger.
What if the "investor" is Vanguard National Trust Company? They tell me they use PAS to manage the investments. Is this the kind of thing PAS could bring value to?
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Re: Vanguard Change to Personal Adviser Services

Post by nisiprius » Wed Aug 21, 2019 9:42 am

12thKnight wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 8:50 am
Former Vanguard crew here... PAS "advisors" do little more than put a human face ... on robo.
Reminds me of the last time I moved assets to Vanguard, and they were telling me that they were giving me a "concierge" who would make it all easy for me. What the "concierge" did, was, literally, no more than talk to me while I was online and coach me through typing the same things on the same screens that I could have done easily enough for myself. No particular complaint except that I thought the "concierge" blarney was excessive. I guess it's easier to have someone already on the phone and ready to explain anything puzzling on the screen, rather than having to call after you are already puzzled.

The transfer got stuck with a minor glitch, as is so often the case, and of course, the "concierge" was useless in resolving it. Had no special access to transaction details and couldn't give any useful help other than "give it a few more days." Which turned out to be all that was needed.

Not as irritating as the day a Fidelity rep wished me a happy birthday. No thanks, I don't even like being first-named, but I really don't like having it rubbed in that they know my date of birth. If I'd been quicker-witted I'd have said "When should I expect to receive a present from you?"
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Re: Vanguard Change to Personal Adviser Services

Post by nedsaid » Wed Aug 21, 2019 10:02 am

12thKnight wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 9:20 am
NYC1 wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 9:03 am
First, thank you for taking the time to reply and for your prior insight into Vanguard.

I believe many of us who read investing books, read Boglehead posts and list to Rick on Podcast know pretty much how to best handle the basics of investing for retirement. My problem is this:

1. I am getting much closer to retirement age than I care to admit. I maybe have only about 10-15 years left of retirement savings years left to invest before I start taking withdrawals.. or that is the plan right now!

2. I am married and my spouse has absolutely ZERO interest in investing, finance and how much to save or how to balance a portfolio! I think of Vanguards PAS as the "hand to hold" not so much for me as for my wife! I have spoken to the PA and they share stories with me about the person who did the investing dies and then the spouse is fast talked into moving funds to some expensive "investment" that has high fees and it basically robbing the client of their funds!

Rick Ferri spoke about this topic in Episode 12 of his most recent podcast! Here is a fellow who spends LOTS of time helping others gain investing knowledge and was listening to a fast-talking investment "advisor" in his home town in Texas!

This is my main concern, but now that I do not have the same PA.. the value to me is reduced! I don't have a person who knows my financial situation clearly as Rick speaks about in Episode 12 of his podcast!

So I am not sure if I should pull out of this service or just find a person who I can trust to assist me and mainly my spouse!!!
Part of what you are looking for, and thought you had, was a relationship. With this change, folks like you are going to be stuck in a speed dating rut of telling the same story to twelve different people in a row and hoping someone "gets it". Vanguard thinks they're adding scalability, but I suspect that what they're gaining in scheduling efficiency will be more than lost in average call (handle) time.

You're not wrong. Some of the greatest value an advisor can provide is knowing your story: what is important to you, not Dick and Jane down the street and not what the financial pornographers in mass media say is important (which is likely completely unimportant clickbait both specifically and generally). You want someone to understand your goals, your spouse's goals, and for that someone to help navigate the surviving spouse through a difficult time. You're understandably leery of an advice trade which still rewards and promotes sociopathic avarice.

I think there is value in having a fee-only financial planner as a household fiduciary resource. Investments really only are a small part of the holistic problem. But finding a person that fits, making sure they 'get it'...it's not easy. None of it is, but nothing worth doing ever is.
I have been recommending to people that they try VPAS, particularly if they were new with investing and feeling uncomfortable with building their own portfolio. I have also been discussing the issue of cognitive decline. There is also the situation of the financially astute spouse married to someone who is clueless, and concern what would happen if something happened to the spouse that understood and ran the finances.

It sounds like Vanguard is becoming more and more corporate and less and less like that special place where you could invest your money. Sort of an organizational entropy. It might just be a function of size, this tends to happen when companies get larger and larger. This echoes what I have been saying for years, American business thinks everything can be run by the numbers and forget there are intangible aspects of business. My suspicion is that Business schools have been teaching things that long term are harmful to business. Pretty much, everything is a commodity now and no one is special anymore. Customers are now commodities as are employees. The human element has been forgotten. This is why I tell people that in the relentless drive for rock bottom costs that something has to give, in this case it is the human touch.

To get the human touch, you might have to go to smaller firms that don't have Vanguard's scale. Another thing to think about is the longevity of organizations, a small firm performing portfolio management and financial planning may not last as long as you do. If you go with a large firm that will likely last for decades to come, that company culture you loved so much is likely to change. Vanguard is a much different firm than when Mr. Bogle ran it.

I think despite the issues brought up here, Vanguard Personal Advisor Service may still be worthwhile for folks who wrestle with issues described above. The world and business is not the way I would like it to be. The comments I have seen here about VPAS have mostly been positive.
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Re: Vanguard Change to Personal Adviser Services

Post by 12thKnight » Wed Aug 21, 2019 10:07 am

pkcrafter wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 9:26 am

You are speaking of the difference between a robo service and a full hands-on advisor service which costs at least 1%.

Paul

Yes, I am. I am also suggesting that an ongoing 30 basis point load on my investment accounts is a pretty spendy subscription for "The Little Book of Common Sense Investing". Personally, I'd rather just spend the $16.49 plus tax at Amazon and an afternoon with my bifocals on.

Vanguard Personal Advisor Services (PAS) is just robo asset allocation guidance plus putting a cheap lock on the investment fridge so the asset cake is safe from the midnight munchies. I bristle at anyone who contends it's actual advice. It was never advice...and now more than ever, it's not even personal.
Last edited by 12thKnight on Wed Aug 21, 2019 10:25 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Vanguard Change to Personal Adviser Services

Post by bertilak » Wed Aug 21, 2019 10:08 am

nisiprius wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 9:42 am
Reminds me of the last time I moved assets to Vanguard, and they were telling me that they were giving me a "concierge" who would make it all easy for me. What the "concierge" did, was, literally, no more than talk to me while I was online and coach me through typing the same things on the same screens that I could have done easily enough for myself.
There have been many times over the years I needed to do something I was unfamiliar with (inheritances, change of ownership, opening unfamiliar account types (UGTMs and other trusts), moving from state-to-state, tax consequences and other things. Since there were often large amounts of money (sometimes other people's money) involved and/or (nearly) irrevocable decisions to make or actions to take I was glad to have someone from Vanguard ease me through the process. They may not have specifically labeled it a concierge service but that's what it amounted to.
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Re: Vanguard Change to Personal Adviser Services

Post by tfb » Wed Aug 21, 2019 12:53 pm

pkcrafter wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 9:26 am
You are speaking of the difference between a robo service and a full hands-on advisor service which costs at least 1%.
Not necessarily. Ask Rick Ferri, Allan Roth, and others who don't charge asset-based fees. Depending on the size of the asset, their fees can be less than the 0.3% charged by Vanguard PAS.
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Re: Vanguard Change to Personal Adviser Services

Post by Chip Munk » Wed Aug 21, 2019 3:23 pm

NYC1 wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 8:23 am
Vanguard last week made a change to the way you interact with PAS (Personal Advisor Services). Now instead of always speaking to your own PA you are routed to a "pool" of "with more specialized client service teams."
I am a PAS client. The message I received last week suggested to me that I would be keeping my dedicated advisor but that I would no longer have a dedicated Flagship representative. I've included the relevant part of the message that I received below. (The sentence shown in bold red text below was also shown in bold, red text in the message.)

OP: I'm curious if you received the same message and we are interpreting it differently, or if you received a different message.

As a Vanguard Personal Advisor client, you currently have a dedicated advisor and an assigned Flagship representative for all of your advice and servicing needs. Your advisor will serve as your primary point of contact going forward and is here to support your investment success. When you need to discuss your financial goals, long-term planning, tax-smart investing strategies, or the allocation of funds within any of your managed accounts, your advisor is available to help.

In addition to your advisor, you'll soon have access to a team of professionals (in lieu of an assigned Flagship representative) with the expertise to quickly and effectively address your account needs. This change will take place in September 2019.

We're making this change for several reasons:
• To connect you with the right expert at the right time, with more specialized client service teams.
• To better serve you as your needs evolve, with direct access to a full team of skilled professionals.
• To expedite service, with an intuitive phone system.

Your Personal Advisor relationship will remain the same and your other benefits won't change.

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Re: Vanguard Change to Personal Adviser Services

Post by nedsaid » Wed Aug 21, 2019 3:30 pm

Chip Munk, thank you for your post. It is reassuring that the change evidently has to do with Flagship Services and not with Vanguard Personal Advisory Service. It sounds like if you are a VPAS client that you still get to keep your advisor.

It would be good to hear from other VPAS clients about their experiences. I am wondering if Vanguard is not communicating well with its clients and I wonder if some things are changing on the fly. Again, I would like to hear from other VPAS clients.
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Re: Vanguard Change to Personal Adviser Services

Post by livesoft » Wed Aug 21, 2019 3:40 pm

I am not a VPAS client, but so what? It seems to me that there is a group of people who don't really need VPAS, but think they do, so I can see that VPAS fits their worldview. Good for them.

I wonder if VPAS clients would pay more for a personal touch? I can see Vanguard charging more for what some people believe they need. OTOH, can Vanguard wean people from misperceptions about investing and thus help them along the way to need less personal touch?

And for folks who like to suggest the Allan Roth or Rick Ferri model, I wonder if those two gentlemen will not be able to accept new clients in future years. After all, those guys are of [at least early] retirement age themselves.
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Re: Vanguard Change to Personal Adviser Services

Post by Silence Dogood » Wed Aug 21, 2019 4:08 pm

12thKnight wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 9:20 am
You're not wrong. Some of the greatest value an advisor can provide is knowing your story: what is important to you, not Dick and Jane down the street and not what the financial pornographers in mass media say is important (which is likely completely unimportant clickbait both specifically and generally). You want someone to understand your goals, your spouse's goals, and for that someone to help navigate the surviving spouse through a difficult time. You're understandably leery of an advice trade which still rewards and promotes sociopathic avarice.
I wish you were still working at Vanguard - I pretty much agree with everything you've written so far.

I hope you continue to post here.

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Re: Vanguard Change to Personal Adviser Services

Post by Silence Dogood » Wed Aug 21, 2019 4:24 pm

12thKnight wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 10:07 am
Yes, I am. I am also suggesting that an ongoing 30 basis point load on my investment accounts is a pretty spendy subscription for "The Little Book of Common Sense Investing". Personally, I'd rather just spend the $16.49 plus tax at Amazon and an afternoon with my bifocals on.

Vanguard Personal Advisor Services (PAS) is just robo asset allocation guidance plus putting a cheap lock on the investment fridge so the asset cake is safe from the midnight munchies. I bristle at anyone who contends it's actual advice. It was never advice...and now more than ever, it's not even personal.
I've found it suspicious how strongly Vanguard has promoted their PAS to me over the past several months. I actually ended up calling Vanguard to ask them to stop. I asked if I could be opted out of PAS marketing only but they told me I'd have to opt out of all Vanguard marketing - so I asked them to do just that. I was getting a weekly email, occasional postal mail, and a pop-up/web banner whenever I logged on. I particularly didn't appreciate the postal mail as I live in an apartment building and sometimes my mail goes in the wrong mailbox. I'd rather not have my neighbors know where I have accounts. Also, pop-ups are just plain annoying. I don't mind Vanguard letting me know what they have to offer - but it was getting to be excessive.

Anyway, it particularly didn't make sense to me why they were marketing to me, of all people. All of my investments are in tax advantaged accounts (Roth IRA with Vanguard, 401k elsewhere) and my Roth IRA is 100% invested in a Vanguard Target Retirement fund (VFFVX). If they looked at my account history, they'd notice I simply contribute the maximum each year. Other than automatic re-investments of dividends and capital gains, I average 1 (one) transaction per year.

What good would paying 0.3% extra do for me? Does the Vanguard marketing department take any of this into consideration?

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Re: Vanguard Change to Personal Adviser Services

Post by Vgemp1294 » Wed Aug 21, 2019 10:39 pm

nedsaid wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 3:30 pm
Chip Munk, thank you for your post. It is reassuring that the change evidently has to do with Flagship Services and not with Vanguard Personal Advisory Service. It sounds like if you are a VPAS client that you still get to keep your advisor.

It would be good to hear from other VPAS clients about their experiences. I am wondering if Vanguard is not communicating well with its clients and I wonder if some things are changing on the fly. Again, I would like to hear from other VPAS clients.
There is basically a restructuring of the entire retail department currently underway, which is supposed to make thing a lot more efficient and is where a lot of these changes are coming in (such as Flagship removing the option for an assigned representative). It is possible similar changes could be made for PAS, but I don't remember if I heard anything specific about that or not.

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Re: Vanguard Change to Personal Adviser Services

Post by GmanJeff » Thu Aug 22, 2019 6:58 am

nedsaid wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 3:30 pm
Chip Munk, thank you for your post. It is reassuring that the change evidently has to do with Flagship Services and not with Vanguard Personal Advisory Service. It sounds like if you are a VPAS client that you still get to keep your advisor.

It would be good to hear from other VPAS clients about their experiences. I am wondering if Vanguard is not communicating well with its clients and I wonder if some things are changing on the fly. Again, I would like to hear from other VPAS clients.
The message from VG was perfectly clear that the only change was that Flagship reps would no longer be individually assigned to specific customers. I'm not sure why the OP misread that and concluded the change also applied to PAS client relationships.

The other postings in this thread are mostly from individuals who do not use the service, including a former employee in an unknown role within Vanguard, who have strongly held views about it. A search of the forum for postings from actual PAS clients can provide other perspectives.

PAS is an advisory service, but scope is limited to investment planning for individual client circumstances. Some topics, such as detailed estate planning and tax issues, are addressed by PAS only to a limited extent. Customers are encouraged to discuss more complex needs in those areas with specialized attorneys and/or CPAs of their own choosing.

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RickBoglehead
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Re: Vanguard Change to Personal Adviser Services

Post by RickBoglehead » Thu Aug 22, 2019 7:41 am

So to summarize, the subject of this post - Vanguard Change to Personal Adviser Services - is not correct based on the email posted from Vanguard, there is no change to PAS.
Avid user of forums on variety of interests-financial, home brewing, F-150, PHEV, home repair, etc. Enjoy learning & passing on knowledge. It's PRINCIPAL, not PRINCIPLE. I ADVISE you to seek ADVICE.

Silence Dogood
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Re: Vanguard Change to Personal Adviser Services

Post by Silence Dogood » Thu Aug 22, 2019 7:44 am

RickBoglehead wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 7:41 am
So to summarize, the subject of this post - Vanguard Change to Personal Adviser Services - is not correct based on the email posted from Vanguard, there is no change to PAS.
NYC1, can you confirm that you made a mistake or was there some other information you were looking at?

ltlurker
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Re: Vanguard Change to Personal Adviser Services

Post by ltlurker » Thu Aug 22, 2019 8:25 am

I'm a long time lurker and a more recent member who still posts, only rarely. I use Vanguard PAS - not for all my investments - but for a significant chunk. The main reason is to protect me from myself. I've seen in the 2 downturns since 2000 that I have not always responded well. I never sold out equities but reduced the %, unnecessarily. In 2011, I went with a more boutique wealth manager and then when they wouldn't reduce their fees, switched to PAS since they were charging 1/3 of what the wealth manager charged. I'm perfectly OK with the PAS and have not had issues to discuss with them. PAS serves as my personal "firewall".

Still, I am investing more recent money with Vanguard but outside of PAS, hopeful that I can trust myself through the next downturn.

bondsr4me
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Re: Vanguard Change to Personal Adviser Services

Post by bondsr4me » Thu Aug 22, 2019 9:01 am

12thKnight wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 9:20 am
NYC1 wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 9:03 am
First, thank you for taking the time to reply and for your prior insight into Vanguard.

I believe many of us who read investing books, read Boglehead posts and list to Rick on Podcast know pretty much how to best handle the basics of investing for retirement. My problem is this:

1. I am getting much closer to retirement age than I care to admit. I maybe have only about 10-15 years left of retirement savings years left to invest before I start taking withdrawals.. or that is the plan right now!

2. I am married and my spouse has absolutely ZERO interest in investing, finance and how much to save or how to balance a portfolio! I think of Vanguards PAS as the "hand to hold" not so much for me as for my wife! I have spoken to the PA and they share stories with me about the person who did the investing dies and then the spouse is fast talked into moving funds to some expensive "investment" that has high fees and it basically robbing the client of their funds!

Rick Ferri spoke about this topic in Episode 12 of his most recent podcast! Here is a fellow who spends LOTS of time helping others gain investing knowledge and was listening to a fast-talking investment "advisor" in his home town in Texas!

This is my main concern, but now that I do not have the same PA.. the value to me is reduced! I don't have a person who knows my financial situation clearly as Rick speaks about in Episode 12 of his podcast!

So I am not sure if I should pull out of this service or just find a person who I can trust to assist me and mainly my spouse!!!
Part of what you are looking for, and thought you had, was a relationship. With this change, folks like you are going to be stuck in a speed dating rut of telling the same story to twelve different people in a row and hoping someone "gets it". Vanguard thinks they're adding scalability, but I suspect that what they're gaining in scheduling efficiency will be more than lost in average call (handle) time.

You're not wrong. Some of the greatest value an advisor can provide is knowing your story: what is important to you, not Dick and Jane down the street and not what the financial pornographers in mass media say is important (which is likely completely unimportant clickbait both specifically and generally). You want someone to understand your goals, your spouse's goals, and for that someone to help navigate the surviving spouse through a difficult time. You're understandably leery of an advice trade which still rewards and promotes sociopathic avarice.

I think there is value in having a fee-only financial planner as a household fiduciary resource. Investments really only are a small part of the holistic problem. But finding a person that fits, making sure they 'get it'...it's not easy. None of it is, but nothing worth doing ever is.
I agree that many, if not most people are looking for a "relationship" with someone they can trust.
They want someone who knows them and can help them.
An "advisor" needs to know his client "totally" in order to help them.
Speaking to someone different every time you call in is just "cannned" advice off a computer screen.
I am now retired from "the business", but when I was active, I knew every one of my clients.
They felt comfortable sharing in-depth personal things, not just financial/tax particulars.
When they called, they spoke with me...no phone message system...I picked up the phone and talked to them as long as they wanted.
If they couldn't come during the day, I met with them in the evening or weekend.
Yes, I was a one man band so I was limited as to how many clients I would take on.
That didn't bother one bit. My goal was to help people; not try to grow to be the biggest; only the best at providing well-rounded financial help.
Maybe Vanguard has gotten too big too fast and is lacking many areas.
I don't really know; only you and other "insiders" can really assess the state of ship.

PhilosophyAndrew
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Re: Vanguard Change to Personal Adviser Services

Post by PhilosophyAndrew » Thu Aug 22, 2019 9:20 am

Perhaps the marketers hope that you have taxable holdings elsewhere and could be persuaded to move them to Vanguard’s PAS.

I’m glad Vanguard offered to remove you from all marketing.

Andy.
Silence Dogood wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 4:24 pm

Anyway, it particularly didn't make sense to me why they were marketing to me, of all people. All of my investments are in tax advantaged accounts (Roth IRA with Vanguard, 401k elsewhere) and my Roth IRA is 100% invested in a Vanguard Target Retirement fund (VFFVX). If they looked at my account history, they'd notice I simply contribute the maximum each year. Other than automatic re-investments of dividends and capital gains, I average 1 (one) transaction per year.

What good would paying 0.3% extra do for me? Does the Vanguard marketing department take any of this into consideration?

smectym
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Re: Vanguard Change to Personal Adviser Services

Post by smectym » Thu Aug 22, 2019 11:45 am

As one who tried PAS for a couple of years and exited, I agree with the negative trend of commentary above. In particular: the idea that somehow ones’ “not interested in finance at all spouse” is going to benefit from the service in some way is probably not well-founded. That was one of my motivations going in, It just didn’t turn out that way: spouse didn’t interact with the “personal advisor” initially; then did sit in on one call and began to develop an initial rapport. Two weeks later they changed the advisor. The new one seemed slightly unstable and shortly thereafter went on leave. They brought in some VP to “backstop” until the advisor returned from leave...but he never did. But so what? The shake-and-bake algorithm-generated portfolio wasn’t going to change whether he came back or not. We quit.

No way is any of that we experienced worth what, in today’s world, is a very hefty .30 portfolio drag.

But I note that last week my Flagship Advisor (who hasn’t yet gone away, apparently, though I hadn’t spoken to him in over a year, since he seriously screwed up an IRA transfer) called me out if the blue. It amounted to a cold call to try to get me back into PAS. Had all the uncomfortable feel of a sales guy trying to make his quota.

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Re: Vanguard Change to Personal Adviser Services

Post by 12thKnight » Thu Aug 22, 2019 1:42 pm

GmanJeff wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 6:58 am

The other postings in this thread are mostly from individuals who do not use the service, including a former employee in an unknown role within Vanguard, who have strongly held views about it. A search of the forum for postings from actual PAS clients can provide other perspectives.
As the former employee whose contributions to the thread you're obliquely minimizing, I'm not sure why my role would validate or invalidate the facts presented. The points I and others made should stand on their own whether they came from someone who advised PAS crew regularly, as I did, or whether they were made by a garbage collector in Tulsa.
GmanJeff wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 6:58 am

PAS is an advisory service, but scope is limited to investment planning for individual client circumstances. Some topics, such as detailed estate planning and tax issues, are addressed by PAS only to a limited extent. Customers are encouraged to discuss more complex needs in those areas with specialized attorneys and/or CPAs of their own choosing.
Painting PAS crew with the same brush as a full service advisor (who can and should punt truly complex questions to qualified legal and tax professionals) is disingenuous.

Vanguard PAS crew are represented as fiduciaries: from the website, "Vanguard Personal Advisor Services is held to fiduciary standards under applicable regulations. Our fiduciary duty means that we're required to act in your best interests at all times."

Here's the problem: how can PAS crew act in the best interest of the client at all times when their scope, expertise and training is "limited to investment planning for individual client circumstances"? Even if we agreed that an advisor could call themselves a fiduciary while being confined to, and operating in, that half-acre within the landscape of comprehensive financial planning - since investment planning decisions mutually affect not only estate planning and taxation recommendations, but also insurance (which Vanguard PAS crew generally don't know the first thing about either beyond CFP coursework - if they've even taken any), how can a PAS advisor make any specific client recommendations with confidence at all?

Yes, PAS crew has tools at hand to point clients toward a reasonable asset allocation for their age cohort and yes, there may be some clients who cannot execute a five-second search on Google to find the tools to do this themselves. Yes, there are many clients who want and need the forced discipline of an advisor to stand between themselves and the cookie jar so that retirement money does not become beer and cigarettes money, and yes, some clients may well be better off trading away 30 basis points of investment performance to hand someone else the keys to their portfolio.

But the standard of a fiduciary is not "better than yesterday". It's "best interests at all times". PAS crew, too often, can't engage with enough of the client's financial landscape to even understand what the client's options are or where the pitfalls in an otherwise logical investment strategy might be. And sooner or later, I predict New Vanguard is going to find that's going to be a big damn problem.

It all reminds me of that wonderful quote in the movie Lincoln: "If you don't avoid the swamps, what's the use of knowing true north?"

GmanJeff
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Re: Vanguard Change to Personal Adviser Services

Post by GmanJeff » Thu Aug 22, 2019 2:01 pm

12thKnight wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 1:42 pm
GmanJeff wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 6:58 am

The other postings in this thread are mostly from individuals who do not use the service, including a former employee in an unknown role within Vanguard, who have strongly held views about it. A search of the forum for postings from actual PAS clients can provide other perspectives.
As the former employee whose contributions to the thread you're obliquely minimizing, I'm not sure why my role would validate or invalidate the facts presented. The points I and others made should stand on their own whether they came from someone who advised PAS crew regularly, as I did, or whether they were made by a garbage collector in Tulsa.
GmanJeff wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 6:58 am

PAS is an advisory service, but scope is limited to investment planning for individual client circumstances. Some topics, such as detailed estate planning and tax issues, are addressed by PAS only to a limited extent. Customers are encouraged to discuss more complex needs in those areas with specialized attorneys and/or CPAs of their own choosing.
Painting PAS crew with the same brush as a full service advisor (who can and should punt truly complex questions to qualified legal and tax professionals) is disingenuous.

Vanguard PAS crew are represented as fiduciaries: from the website, "Vanguard Personal Advisor Services is held to fiduciary standards under applicable regulations. Our fiduciary duty means that we're required to act in your best interests at all times."

Here's the problem: how can PAS crew act in the best interest of the client at all times when their scope, expertise and training is "limited to investment planning for individual client circumstances"? Even if we agreed that an advisor could call themselves a fiduciary while being confined to, and operating in, that half-acre within the landscape of comprehensive financial planning - since investment planning decisions mutually affect not only estate planning and taxation recommendations, but also insurance (which Vanguard PAS crew generally don't know the first thing about either beyond CFP coursework - if they've even taken any), how can a PAS advisor make any specific client recommendations with confidence at all?

Yes, PAS crew has tools at hand to point clients toward a reasonable asset allocation for their age cohort and yes, there may be some clients who cannot execute a five-second search on Google to find the tools to do this themselves. Yes, there are many clients who want and need the forced discipline of an advisor to stand between themselves and the cookie jar so that retirement money does not become beer and cigarettes money, and yes, some clients may well be better off trading away 30 basis points of investment performance to hand someone else the keys to their portfolio.

But the standard of a fiduciary is not "better than yesterday". It's "best interests at all times". PAS crew, too often, can't engage with enough of the client's financial landscape to even understand what the client's options are or where the pitfalls in an otherwise logical investment strategy might be. And sooner or later, I predict New Vanguard is going to find that's going to be a big damn problem.

It all reminds me of that wonderful quote in the movie Lincoln: "If you don't avoid the swamps, what's the use of knowing true north?"


Asserting, with no evidence provided, that PAS advisors do not discharge responsibilities as fiduciaries is simply gratuitous and vituperative unsupported disparagement inserted into a thread on a different topic altogether - whether PAS clients will no longer have individually assigned advisors. It's one thing to observe that PAS has a defined advisory lane and does not stray into areas outside their expertise such as insurance, and quite another to imply or claim that the services provided are thereby and additionally deceptive, incompetent, or otherwise without material value to clients.

brainstem
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Re: Vanguard Change to Personal Adviser Services

Post by brainstem » Thu Aug 22, 2019 2:13 pm

Another reason to use PAS:

You are trustee of a trust fund for a minor:
An inexpensive was of demonstrating proper fudiciary oversight if challenged at a later date

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