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Can a Financial Planner Boost Your Investment Performance?

According to Vanguard’s Advisor Alpha study, the answer is yes. Vanguard, a low-cost investment manager with a unique structure, has released a number of studies illustrating how advisors can improve investment performance by around 3% annually. You can access the August 2022 whitepaper at this link, or you can keep reading for the main points.

Note: Services like financial planning are unique in that they have both an emotional return AND a financial upside. This post focuses on the financial return of hiring a financial planner, particularly in investment management, excluding areas like insurance and tax planning where planners can also add value.

Strategies with Annual Savings (0.44%-2.24%)

Some of the ways I help the people I work with benefit them annually - things like choosing low-cost investments and making sure we’re being tax-efficient with how we’re investing.

Because I do the research to find good, low-cost investments, I’m able to help people keep more of their returns - Vanguard estimates that value at around 0.30%.

Rebalancing, or selling the winners to buy the losers, can add an additional 0.14% to returns according to Vanguard. This strategy not only keeps investors true to the target allocation, but also systematizes the investing adage “buy low, sell high.”

Should you spend your pre-tax dollars first? Taxable? Roth? The answer is often a combination, allowing you to pay the least amount of taxes throughout retirement. Vanguard estimates this value-add to be as much as 1.20%.

If you have retirement and non-retirement accounts, you can implement strategies like tax-loss harvesting or asset location to lower your tax bill. Vanguard estimates the value of these strategies to be up to 0.60%.

The Big Mistake (0-2.00%)

Selling when the market is down can be a disastrous mistake. It’s easy to say we won’t make mistakes when everything is going well, but when your accounts are down, it often feels like the world is crumbling. Think about the Great Recession in 2008 or COVID in 2020. In times like these, it helps to have someone you trust in your corner to reassure you and help you stick to the plan - it just might save you from yourself.

Notice that none of this entails beating the market - that’s because active management (buying and selling to try to outperform) just doesn’t consistently work. That’s why I take a data-focused approach to get the people I work with the most consistently good returns.


As always, keep in mind that you don't have to go it alone. Check out my website to see what it's like to work with me and reach out if you have any questions.

If you found this post helpful, help spread the word! But remember, this is solely for educational purposes - it's not advice.

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