Financial Literacy

Helping investors sort through information overload

 Making financial decisions always has been difficult, but the Internet’s democratization of information should allow investors to more easily make informed choices, right?

Not really. Investors today instead find themselves dealing with information overload driven by the constant day-by-day — or hour-by-hour — drumbeat of financial headlines.

At every retirement planning seminar, he gives, Christian Cordoba CFP®, RFC®, CFS asks attendees, “Is it easier today to make financial decisions?”

“Hands go up for both but inevitably people think it’s actually more difficult today even though we have more information, and that comes back to trust,” Cordoba, founding partner and personal wealth manager at California Retirement Advisors, told “Advisors Magazine” during a recent interview.

California Retirement Advisors provides comprehensive wealth management and financial planning solutions to investors, primarily those nearing retirement. The firm charges a 0.5 percent investment advisory fee based on $1,000,000 accounts (not included are additional costs such as planning or technology), and collects the same advisory fee even if total balances are lower; for example, one percent on a $500,000 balance.

Trust matters at California Retirement Advisors. When Cordoba says that decisions are made harder because of trust, he means that investors increasingly distrust the information available to them. It takes a trained, professional wealth manager to help them sort out fact from fiction, and clients need to know their advisor has their best interests at heart.

Cordoba first started California Retirement Advisors after working elsewhere in the financial industry and seeing less-than-exemplary client service; he founded the firm with a different attitude.

“I committed to myself and my clients that I would always be there for them,” he said.

California Retirement Advisors primarily works with retirees, but other investors are welcome. What Cordoba really looks for, is whether the client needs his services, and how he can help.

“Although we specialize in working with people who have retirement objectives, I keep circling back to three main criteria,” Cordoba said. “[Those are] people who do not have the time, knowledge, or desire to invest on their own … You can have two of those things, but even if you don’t have one you need to get assistance from somebody.”

Increasingly, investors are seeking assistance from non-human sources, however, a trend that concerns Cordoba due to the possibility that some will be misled.

“It’s going to really depend upon the integrity and the mission of those that are creating them … Every presentation can be tweaked,” he said, adding that ethically created, effective online tools could complement human advisors and be a “huge help” to investors, especially if the automated programs contributed to client education.

Cordoba’s goals for the rest of 2017 and going into 2018 include tracking the evolving financial technology landscape and finding a way to position California Retirement Advisors to take advantage of it. The same goes for the rapidly changing regulatory landscape as well. The Department of Labor’s new fiduciary rule can provide benefits for both investors and advisors, Cordoba said, but his firm still needs to find where they fit in this new market.

“[The rule is] creating a lot of opportunity for consumers to gain a lot of knowledge and also for financial advisors to better position themselves to help the clients as well,” Cordoba said. “But, I think that ultimately … With everybody being considered a fiduciary like we’ve always been, but they all weren’t before, how do you differentiate?”

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