wrong, thousands of retires and fixed income folks with limited or at least modest means who were invested in what they believed were conservative bond-like or annuity funds were duped or mislead and lost considerable amounts of money.
most folks invested in the general stock market suffered significant losses in 2008, w/ the TSX at 14000 in the start of 2008 and about 11700 now after a solid recovery in 2009, even a conservative and passive investor is down a few years on, and with the sluggish economy might take a few more years to catch up. so "ordinary people" as you state that were invested prior to 2009 suffered too, especially considering how many people in the baby boom generation close to retirement that can afford to take a large loss which they beleived they were protected from by investing in what many "financial advisors" told them were conservative stocks like large cap's, financials and dividend paying utilities.
*Everyone* took a hit to their portfolio, not just poor old folks on fixed incomes. If someone wants an absolute guarantee that their holdings will never go down, they should buy an explicitly guaranteed product (e.g. GIC, government bond or seg fund). I'm sure that some people were poorly advised, but:
a) having/using an advisor doesn't absolve you from having the faintest idea about what goes on in your account (unless it's discretionary managed, in which case you should *still* have an idea of what you're invested in)
b) like you mention further along, people often ignore the possible downsides when they have dollar signs in their eyes. People are happy to ride along during the good times, and then blame everyone in sight except themselves when things go bad. People often think that ignoring small possibilities makes them disappear altogether.
true in part, banks will sell proprietary products but increasingly they can invest you in ETF's and or specific stocks all depending on your situation. transaction fee's to purchase a mutual fund might be waived but embedded in the fund itself are MER's that are for all intents and purposes a fee, and they are generally high (2.5%) for canadian funds which we have discussed before share a poor track record of being unable to beat their parent index year after year the past while.
Mutual funds charge a management fee, yes. A broker will also charge you a fee to trade, rebalance or give advice (if that's their model). Online brokerages cut out the charge for advice, but still charge you monthly/trade fees. You won't get everything for nothing. Also, a 2.5% mutual fund MER would include a trailer to your broker/advisor, which compensates him for the advice relating to the fund purchase and the ongoing service that you receive.
we know that by their record and in general year over year financial planners and their coutner parts with large banks have been unable to obtain better results than passive investing by simply purchasing the index's (ie: investing in the SPY vs. a SPY like mutual fund)
the issue isnt so much about the quality and substance of one's qualifications as much as dispelling the myth that a person with several years worth of experience selling mutual funds and rehashing the same old concepts of porfolio balancing is somehow going to earn you more money than simply putting it all in bonds, GIC's or a savings account the way alot of people used to do decades ago. depending on when and how much you began to invest, and in what classes its difficult to really give direct proof that the time and $$ spent purcahsing stocks or mutual funds was beneficial over more conservative and passive approaches.
but i can appreciate the need for people you can trust to guide you if the whole subject is new to you. some people simply arent interested in learning either so there will always be a need for banks and brokerages to provide guidance, my issue is that false hype that has been built up around advisors and the kinds of false promises or false perceptions people seem to have about them.
having someone you can trust is to me the biggest issue because at least they can convey to you the relative risks of what they are doing or about to, and how much risk tehy are willing to take on. though in the retail advisor's defense i suspect people dont really hear or want to hear what bank advisors are telling them when they discuss risk and potential draw downs. so the need for someone you trust is all the more critical as these types of cautions are more likley to stick, so in the event of a 2008 style collapse people dont get blindsided under the false impression that conservative blue chips simply dont or cant fall %50 in a market panic....
The biggest misconception that people have is that financial planning isn't just about investing. It encompasses investing, tax planning, debt management, insurance, estate planning and any other number of factors. Your investments relate to many other aspects of your life, and this is why people are increasingly opting for a "big picture" approach and using Financial Planners. Some guy selling a book based on a computer-modelled stock analysis stategy isn't taking into account your personal circumstances, which is the starting point for any type of solid financial plan or investment strategy.
People huff and puff about outrageous management fees, but how much time and effort will you spend monitoring your own investments (especially if you're a relative newbie)?
Investing, like any other field, is full of people who want to validate their own choices by convincing others of the same. Just as you have die-hard GM and Honda buyers, you will have people that will swear up and down that ETFs or GICs are the way to go ALL THE TIME. The simple fact is that what's best for you all depends on:
a) your current savings
b) your needs/goals
c) your need for security
Anyone that tells you that "Product X is right/wrong for everyone" or "Product X is universally better/worse than product Y" is blowing smoke up your ass. The recent mutual fund backlash is fuelled by the fact that most people took a hit on their portfolios in 2008, and mutual funds are the most popular type of equity investment. They didn't suddenly become terrible products overnight.