Vanguard Financial Planning Services

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Vanguard offers two types of service when a customer needs investment advice: Ask a CFP® Professional and Vanguard Financial Plan.

Ask a CFP® Professional

This free service is offered to Voyager Select and Flagship customers with $500k or more in qualifying Vanguard assets, and to participants age 55 or older in retirement plans administered by Vanguard. It offers a telephone consultation with a CFP. This service does not produce any detailed written plan.

See Ask a CFP® Professional brochure for more details.

Vanguard Financial Plan

Vanguard Financial Plan offers fee-only investment recommendations, which are actually free for some clients.

Services

A Vanguard financial plan includes asset allocation and fund recommendations, as well as a retirement savings analysis. The client fills out an online questionnaire and receives an initial plan. After about a 45 minute telephone conversation between the client and a planner, an updated plan is generated. While the plans typically include only Vanguard funds, a client's request to incorporate some other existing holdings will be honored.

The client is free to accept or reject the recommendations in full or in part. Any subsequent buy or sell transactions must be implemented by the client.

Flagship and Voyager Select clients are entitled to complimentary plans, including free annual checkups. The fee for Voyager clients is $250, and it's $1,000 for clients with less than $50,000 in Vanguard funds.

See Vanguard Financial Plan brochure for more details.

Advantages

Vanguard planners do not receive commissions for selling financial products. A client can be assured of receiving a well-diversified portfolio recommendation, consisting of low-cost Vanguard funds. A plan is inexpensive or free for many clients, and it likely represents a large improvement over a typical investor's self-designed portfolio.

Criticisms

A minor conflict of interest exists in that the planners are beholden to Vanguard.

  • Their default recommendations are restricted exclusively to Vanguard funds.
  • They could be instructed to include particular funds Vanguard management wishes to promote.

External links