The ghost of Jack Bogle…

I’ve been with the same financial advisor for near on 20 years. I’ve had very few complaints, aside, perhaps, from his being not quite as aggressive when picking investments as my own comfort level would allow. I appreciated someone who was “fiduciarily neutral” to act as a sounding board to discuss changes, goals, and long-term planning. Now that he’s set to retire, I have to wonder if I’m willing to peel off 1% a year to build that same relationship with whatever new guy comes in to take over the shop.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve held back a small amount in a separate investment account that I tinker with directly. I’m not a stock picker. I don’t have the time or inherent analytical ability to do deep evaluation on this stuff. I am, however, good at recognizing that over time, a broad index of the whole market has given me returns in that account that are perfectly acceptable. I’ve observed the same function in the Thrift Savings Plan sponsored by our beloved Uncle. Its core funds – again, broad market indexes – grind out ample returns over time. Set it and forget it until it’s time to rebalance.

The account I held with my old advisor has always been something I thought of as a fallback – a failsafe that would prevent one disastrous, misguided decision on my part from wrecking the entire house of cards. I wonder, though, if maybe it’s time I take the whole thing in hand for a decade or so… at least until I need to come up with a plan to move from the accumulation phase to it becoming a cash flowing source of income. With less than a handful of index funds being fed automatically every two weeks, it doesn’t feel like the occasional rebalancing should be something that’s too hard for me to manage. Saving the yearly fees until we reach a point where there’s heavy duty planning to do would also be a nice little bonus.

It’s all easy to say here, but does, however, require a tremendous leap of faith in my own ability not to fuck things up in the absence of a safety net. Maybe what I’m really waiting for is a late-night visit from the ghost of Jack Bogle to reassure me that “Nothing is simpler than owning the stock market and holding it forever.” Yeah. That would go a long way towards easing my mind on this one.